(notso)Smart Guns

When I was in the Navy I had a shipmate whose last name was “Lovely”. His nickname was “Notso”.

At any rate, USA Today reports that smart guns are “finally” coming to the US.

Personalized smart guns, which can be fired only by verified users, may finally become available to U.S. consumers after two decades of questions about reliability and concerns they will usher in a new wave of government regulation.

I think the most weighty word in that entire sentence is “may”.

Basically, I’ll believe it when I see them on the shelves at my local gun store.

I’m also very skeptical that any law enforcement agency will use this technology willingly. I can see some in the more gun-unfriendly regions being forced to use them by edict, but I can’t imagine front line cops jumping for joy at the prospect of a gun with even more complicating features that may lead to failure in a life or death situation.

Which is the reason I’ll never buy one. Semi-autos are complex enough with enough failure points as it is…why add to that voluntarily? Maybe if I had young kids at home I’d be more interested, but I don’t. I want to be able to pick up my gun, point it at the bad guy, pull the trigger and count on it going “bang” regardless of whether I have my finger in exactly the right position or am wearing the magic ring at the time, or take the time to enter a PIN into my (notso)smartphone.

As far as the fingerprint thing…I use fingerprint recognition to log into my phone. I recently remodeled a bathroom which, during the “drywall installation” phase, required extensive use of sandpaper. During that evolution and for about two or three weeks after, my fingerprints would not unlock my phone. I had to use a manual PIN entry because the sandpaper altered my fingerprints to the point that they were not recognized by my phone.

The same thing happens if my hands are wet, or too dirty, or I’ve gotten a scratch or cut on my fingertip.

Hmm. I can’t possibly imagine a situation where I might need to access my defensive firearm quickly while my hands might be wet, or dirty, or bloody, or injured – can you?

Oh…I’m left handed. Is the fingerprint sensor going to be ambidextrous? How does that work? Two sensors, one on either side of the grip? Or will they put the sensor in a location that you have to activate the gun first before attaining a proper firing grip? Because that wouldn’t slow things down at all now would it?

And as an added bonus, we get to pay somewhere between two and five times more for the privilege of owning a gun that may or may not actually work when we most need it. What a bargain.

To be clear, I’m not opposed to this technology. Some people might see it as a great safety measure…especially, as I said, people with children at home. I’m no more opposed to someone owning a (notso)smart gun than I am opposed to someone owning, say, a Jennings .22 lr or .25 ACP pistol (double whammy of a mouse gun cartridge in an unreliable pistol). I’d never own one (not even if someone gave it to me), but who am I to say you shouldn’t own one?

My only concern is that the push to make them mandatory will begin in earnest as soon as the first model becomes available. We’ll need to keep an eye on this.

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5 thoughts on “(notso)Smart Guns

  1. And you use a fingerprint as the “security” on your phone…..why?

    Back several years it was thought fingerprints were the ultimate in security.

    Until it was discovered removing the finger worked just as well as having the entire body present. So the security mfgs added temperature sensors to detect a “live, functioning finger.” And the bad guys discovered microwaves. So the mfgs installed blood flow detectors. And the BGs discovered hypodermic needles and warm saline solution worked on microwaved fingers. Where that battle stands now, IDK.

    Just like “someone” can hold you down and make your phone recognize your face, “someone” can hold you down and brute force your finger onto your phone. AFAIK, so far, the courts haven’t weighed in on those procedures when the “someones” are cops, and if they’re non-cops it’ll never arrive in court. In a “legal” environment you cannot be forced to reveal your password because it constitutes a 5th Amendment violation. In a less-than-legal environment XKCD and his wrench reign supreme.

    And so on. FYI, talk to any fingerprint examiner about printing a mason. It takes about 20 days for readable prints to restore after they stop laying brick (Henry Classification System and ocular examination) and about 12-15 days for recent mfg AFIS readers to get a good enough read to ID someone.

    And there actually are people who think some sort of finger/physical detection method will work on guns, never mind reliably enough to be useful, much less acceptable to anyone with greater than a single digit IQ.

  2. The only reason I own a (notso)smart phone is because my company issues them to us. If it weren’t for that, I’d still have a flip phone.

    I use the fingerprint feature because it’s very fast and way more convenient than punching in a PIN every time.

    I don’t keep anything confidential or sensitive on my phone (which is the property of my company, so anything on it is subject to their snooping at any time) so I’m not overly concerned about keeping iron clad security. In fact, the only reason I have it set up to lock at all is because for work I need the Near Field Contact function enabled and that requires the lock screen to be enabled (it assumes you’re using it for Google Wallet or whatever…which I’m not…and requires a lock code). If it weren’t for that, I’d just set it to never lock and I’d only need the PIN when I turn it on.

    I keep location turned off, I don’t use any Google Apps or features if I can avoid it (I uninstalled all of them I could when I first got the phone and the ones I couldn’t uninstall, I disabled) and I created a phony gmail account that I never use for anything other than so the few Google functions that absolutely have to be turned on for the phone to work will function. Any pictures I take I download to my computer and delete from the phone at my earliest convenience, and those are generally work related anyway.

    Basically, the only thing they’d get is access to my work e-mail, my text message history (and I’m not a big fan of text messages, so there’s not much there) and my contacts list. Granted, I do have a few personal contacts in my phone’s contact list, but the addresses and phone numbers of my kids and a couple of my friends is not really sensitive information.

    So…as I said I’m not overly concerned with bullet proof security on my phone…hence using the easiest and most convenient (when it works) method to unlock it available.

    As far as removing my finger…if that ever happens, it means I’ve already run my gun and spare mags dry and didn’t end the threat, which means I’m probably dead already anyway.

  3. “It’s the work phone” would have covered it.

    I used to carry 2 phones – “Theirs” and “Mine”. “Theirs” was subject to not only 24X7X365 search by “Them,” the state records laws allowed anyone with curiosity and the search fee (<$20) to FOIA anything on my phone (and computer, and email, etc.) so t’weren’t nuttin’ on it anywhere near even slightly questionable and it was never, ever, ever used for anything even very remotely personal in nature, nor did it ever have any app on it that was not Fully Approved And Authorized.

    “Mine,” on the other hand, was different; locked down as far as its technology allowed, and equipped with the Advanced Self Destruct Mechanism (On its phones, Apple builds in a default to scrub it clean after 10 failed password tries; “Mine” did that after 3 with a Trick Question added).

  4. Sorry about that. I never pass up an opportunity to say in 100 words something I could have said in 10.

    I’m a trainer by trade, so I have a tendency to overexplain.

    One of my favorite sayings has been attributed to various people in various forms from Cicero, to John Locke to Mark Twain so I won’t put it in quotes, but a paraphrase is:

    I would have written something shorter but I didn’t have time.

    That pretty much applies to everything I write.

  5. “I would have written something shorter but I didn’t have time”

    Churchill said something similar, along the lines of “if you want a 2 hour speech I can deliver that right now, if you want a 20 minute speech it will take me 3 weeks to write it.” I forget who said it originally, but “brevity is the soul of wit” or something like that (AlGore’s Intertubes says ‘Shakespeare” in Hamlet).

    Good brevity is very, very hard; there’s an art to learning just what to leave out and how to finesse what remains.

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