A look at smart gun technology and it's draw backs for concealed carry
National headlines love to cover a grisly shooting incident. It makes for big headlines and huge celebrity appeals for tougher laws regulating guns. The downside is that more and more legislators are looking to make laws governing the technology that operates firearms. Additional, unnecessary parts like an electronic firing mechanism, establishing geo-location, and even where the bullet is being fired – they all sound like good ideas if the perspective is that everyone, everywhere operated with those same constraints.
Let's look at three pieces of technology in particular which claim to revolutionize the world of gun safety – and then we'll see how they do anything but that.
Yardarm Technologies designed a safety mechanism called “Yardarm Firearm Telematics”. It's an extremely small electronic safety mechanism that includes data such as the location of the firearm, whether it is holstered or unholstered, and most importantly – when it's firing. It can even show which direction the firearm was facing when it was discharged. This is all possible with a fancy sensor which includes GSM cellular data streams, geo-location, and an accelerometer.
Development: Currently in testing
Application: Law enforcement and home security
Upside: It can provide a clear record which can be reconstructed to help organize the events leading up to and including an actual hostile encounter.
Downside: Unknown vulnerabilities. As with all new unproven technologies that use telephony and wireless communication, there's always the possibility of an exploit being discovered and used maliciously.
Ring Activated Gun Locks
MAGLOC flirted very briefly with the world of commercial safety gun trigger manufacturing. Their heyday was 2003. And since then, the mass media seems to have a love affair with showing off electronic trigger safety mechanisms every time there is outrage over another shooting incident (or accident).
Development: Currently in testing
Application: Currently in use
Upside: Only one person is firing that pistol – the one with the ring to electronically activate it.
Downside: “One ring to rule them all and... Where's the ring?” If you lose your wedding band, you can buy a replacement and keep on living. If you lose the ring to activate your handgun – or worse, the electronics malfunction – what's your recourse?
RFID Activated Guns
The idea is that if everyone's firearm was outfitted with a TriggerSmart smart trigger, then RFID emitters could be placed around “no gun” zones to curtail the use of firearms in those areas. It also necessitates that the shooter wears an RFID chip which identifies the person as the appropriate shooter. So not only do you need access to your own pistol, you don't even get to decide when and where to use it – no matter the circumstances. Because this is a product in development, there is no data on its failure rates, efficacy, or even usefulness. Simply slapping the name “smart” next to the world “trigger” seems to have been enough to convince media outlets it is a great step forward in gun safety.
Development: Currently in use
Application: Civilians and Law Enforcement
Upside: You have to be in possession of an RFID chip to fire it. You can't fire it inside a “no guns allowed” RFID zone.
Downside: You have to be in possession of an RFID chip to fire it. You can't fire it inside a “no guns allowed” RFID zone. Additionally, RFID chips can be exploited. Because the weapon is electronically fired, does that mean a hacker can remotely access the pistol? Also, what are the chances your attacker is going to have an RFID chip on his gun stopping him from firing?
About The Author
James England (@sir_jim_england) is the contributing editor for Alien Gear Holsters. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and private defense contracting in Afghanistan.