Gun technology of the future will make us all safer, but will gun-nuts buy into it?

tech0106gun_485v2Currently, one might find any number of variations of the so-called “ smart-gun” technology. These can range from concepts that involve the weapon “reading” the user through the pressure of the palm on the grip to links with chips in accessories linked to the smart-gun itself.  One company likes the idea of a ring, another uses a bio-metric watch.

The primary purpose of the smart-gun technology we have right now is being marketed as access restriction. Only the intended user is able to use the weapon and this is intended to prevent both theft and accidental misuse.  This is of particularly interest to law enforcement personnel, for obvious reasons.

Now there is some criticism of the smart-gun idea, both ideological and what I might myself call material. The material criticism might come in the form of questioning whether the technology would be reliable enough to depend on in a sticky situation. The answer to this is simply the advance of technology. Ten years ago the notion of voice recognition technology being more than a curiosity has evolved into something that people not only want, but pay a pretty penny to get.  That’s the nature of this particular beast.

The ideological criticism is more along the lines of the standard paranoia. “It’s a way to track weapons and we’ll fight this legislation tooth and nail.” This leads to my question; well, what if we’re not talking about legislation?  Why not let the market decide?

Some gun control advocates argue that this will give people a “false” sense of security and lead to more people buying weapons and more accidents. I think this hazard is perhaps overstated, though I can see where it might lead to people who might not ordinarily consider buying a firearm to rethink their position on the matter. Not those who are inherently opposed, but those for whom the safety issue was of the most concern. Some liberals might even consider buying  a weapon that was more innately secure than the common variety Saturday Night Special.

It’s difficult to say if this would be the case, but it’s certainly within the realm of possibility. One has to consider how dangerous it is that the wingnuts are out there building their own arsenal. It is arguable that they believe the battle they’re preparing for is inevitable, and as we can imagine, that’s something that should concern the rest of us.

Personalizing the Gun

The thing about smart-gun technology is that it’s very new.  It’s at the very beginning of where cell phones were fifteen years ago. The potential range of innovation has yet to be explored, yet alone mapped.  If one combines several currently existing technologies, however, and projects their potential into the application of weapon technology, some interesting possibilities begin to emerge.

So the gun can identify a user. What if it could identify a family member too? What if you could deliberately make some people “off limits” as targets? A chip—either worn in jewelry or even implanted in a loved one’s body, would make this possible. The gun could simply not be used against these targets. It won’t fire. Upon this it might be possible to layer facial recognition for redundancy.

Imagine a weapon that can contact you if it’s taken from a specific location. Or, depending on your preferences, the police. Or both you and the police? How about your lawyer?

These weapons would be bound to the registered user and likely could only be transferred at an authorized re-seller. Private sales might have to be done on consignment, but so what?

The thing about these technologies is that they could be of great use to the police and military units.  Might even be able to lower the rate of friendly fire incidents.  More advanced models could sort enemy from ally using a combination of  some sort of locator chip and facial recognition to auto-target enemies.  Facial recognition technology might allow the police to come in with enough information to recognize friend from foe in any lighting and pick off the bad guys without harming the hostages. All discharges of the weapon could be recorded if the owner preferred it that way.

There are potential concerns, of course.  Computers are occasionally prone to weird glitches.  I’d say that people who used these weapons in a professional capacity would want to do regular diagnostics.  The privately owned weapon might simply be required to have regular service checks… based upon rounds fired, perhaps.

I can hear the shrieks of outrage already.  “You’ll never make us do it.”

We don’t have to. Do you really think people are going to ignore the better mousetrap, particularly in the long run?  Probably not. We don’t have to legislate something that the right marketing could put in half the bedrooms in America.  I could almost write the commercial. In fact, in one discussion I pretty much did just that.

Open. Dark Screen. Off screen Narration begins: “Imagine. A dark night.  The power fails and you hear loud noises outside. Not long ago you might have been in a panic, but not now. You have a fail-safe in play. You have a gun. But this is not your grandfather’s gun. This gun prevents accidents.”

<Insert trusted celebrity here> “Americans deserve both safety and security. You know there are dangers out there, but you’ve always balked at getting a gun. Too dangerous. Too likely to kill the wrong person. With a Vision Smart-gun, that’s not a worry. It will only kill the bad guys. It was invented to do just that.”

jobsigunI personally think it would make murder suicides a real pain in the ass. They’d have to make them take off the ring, watch, etc… and you could already have it programmed with a panic switch or some other way to turn off the weapon. Forcible removal of the watch could also kill the gun. Various settings could also be possible.

It’s hard to say if America would ever wholeheartedly embrace this vision, but I do know in all likelihood there is  a market out there for the enterprising individual who futurizes the smart-gun concept. Why do I think the smartphone manufacturers could benefit a lot from getting involved in this technology? Oh, because they would. They are, after all, the ones who’ve been making the relevant technologies portable.

Maybe one possible future in America is simply an America with a preference for a safer kind of gun.

On one last note, I’d like to direct you to an article detailing the military equipment of the near future. I think you can see how a smart-gun could easily be integrated.

No, I don’t see this as inevitable. But let us just say it wouldn’t surprise me. I believe an agile entrepreneur could make a lot of money in this market.


  1. It may happen in the distant future, but not likely. The entire point of firearm development has been to make them more and more reliable, not less. Simplicity lends itself to reliability, the less to go wrong, the less can go wrong. This is why Glock handguns and the AK-47 have proliferated so well, their simplicity and reliability, hand in hand, is the pinnacle of firearms development so far. Will people embrace complexities that may marginally increase safety but make the weapon possibly not fire when a life hangs on it’s flawless function? The short answer: no.

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