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"I didn’t want my shop burned down."
May 6, 2014 9:32 AM   Subscribe

A Maryland gun store owner recently spent the night in his store to guard against retribution for his store's (now-reversed) decision to sell the Armatix iP1 Smart Pistol, the first smart gun to be marketed in the United States. Andy Raymond, co-owner of Engage Armament in Rockville, Maryland, initially supported the iP1 as a way to reach "fence-sitters", but backed down after receiving death threats.

This follows a similar about-face from the Oak Tree Gun Club in California, which initially showed enthusiasm for the gun's crossover appeal, only to backtrack after widespread opposition from gun owners, including personal threats against Belinda Padilla, Armatix's president of U.S. operations. The gun lobby has expressed concerns about the reliability and higher cost of these weapons, as well as a New Jersey law that would prohibit the sale of all "non-smart" firearms in New Jersey within three years of a smart gun going on the market anywhere else in the U.S.

Last night's episode of MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes devoted three segments (1, 2, 3) to the controversy, interviewing Padilla, Raymond, and several other principals involved in the California and Maryland smart gun efforts, and breaking the news that New Jersey State Senator Loretta Weinberg would introduce legislation to repeal the New Jersey smart gun law if the gun lobby drops its opposition to allowing the guns to reach the U.S. market elsewhere.
posted by tonycpsu (391 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Here's a way to make this tool safer for those who choose to buy it!

Quick, let's threaten to kill anyone who sells it!

Head-desk, head-desk, head-desk.
posted by suelac at 9:40 AM on May 6 [32 favorites]


I guess "we don't negotiate with terrorists" only applies when those terrorists have lobbyists.
posted by munchingzombie at 9:44 AM on May 6 [98 favorites]


What's the idea here- that the government could remotely control these guns? Is that why people are opposed to this?
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:46 AM on May 6


I can see several problems with handing trigger control over to embedded computers.
posted by 256 at 9:47 AM on May 6 [5 favorites]


This is precisely why I can't treat 2nd Amendment advocates seriously.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:48 AM on May 6 [34 favorites]


This seems like a great retailing opportunity. Use my hacking skills to identify the people making terrorist threats and sue the fuck outa them and make the ATF take their guns away. Hmm probably significant personal risks though...
posted by humanfont at 9:48 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]


Technical issues aside, my reading is that there is a fear that this sort of control might become mandatory. Is that right? I'm not sure why else anyone would give a damn. If you don't like it, don't buy one.
posted by jquinby at 9:48 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]


If it's like the military systems I've worked on, the computer can only stop the trigger from working, not fire the weapon.
posted by Harald74 at 9:48 AM on May 6 [5 favorites]


I guess "we don't negotiate with terrorists" only applies when those terrorists have lobbyists.
posted by munchingzombie at 12:44 PM on May 6


This was perfectly, flawlessly stated.
posted by glaucon at 9:49 AM on May 6 [3 favorites]


What's the idea here- that the government could remotely control these guns? Is that why people are opposed to this?

From the Verge article:
[T]here is immense pressure not to be the first to sell them. That’s because of a New Jersey law passed in 2002 known as the Childproof Handgun Law, which says that all guns sold in New Jersey must be state-approved smart guns within three years of a smart gun being sold anywhere in the country. The goal was to make smart guns mandatory as soon as the technology existed. Officially, no smart gun has been sold in the US yet — meaning if Raymond had sold one, it would have triggered the clause in New Jersey.
posted by cjelli at 9:49 AM on May 6 [34 favorites]


I wonder if the anti-smart-gun-selling crowd are aware that this disqualifies them forever from the rhetorical use of the term "free market".
posted by Pallas Athena at 9:49 AM on May 6 [78 favorites]


It's not like this is anything new - read up on what happened to Smith & Wesson a decade and a half back.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:50 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]


The two principal objections I've read are that this creates an ID system for gun owners and that if their shooting hand gets injured during an incident they'll be unable to hand the gun of to somebody they trust. Not saying those are the only objections but I read a lot of comment sections and those pop out frequently.
posted by Joey Michaels at 9:50 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


That’s because of a New Jersey law passed in 2002 known as the Childproof Handgun Law, which says that all guns sold in New Jersey must be state-approved smart guns within three years of a smart gun being sold anywhere in the country

Didn't someone sell a smart gun to that store owner?
posted by Green With You at 9:51 AM on May 6 [18 favorites]


There are plenty of legitimate reasons for gun owners to object to owning one of these personally, and as long as the New Jersey law exists, there are even legitimate reasons to categorically oppose their sale in the U.S., which is what makes State Sen. Weinberg's offer to repeal the New Jersey law in exchange for allowing these products to come to market so interesting. At that point, we'll find out if the gun lobby's opposition is really based on fears of non-smart guns being banned in New Jersey, or if they make up some other excuse to interfere with the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:53 AM on May 6 [18 favorites]


Damn government, restricting the free market and making decisions about what people can and can't buy. Oh wait . . . . Well, what about: keep your hands off my ability to prevent other people from buying things that I don't like! Hm, doesn't quite work either. Let's see . . . you can buy and sell things in the free market when you take it out of my cold dead hands?
posted by Mid at 9:53 AM on May 6 [3 favorites]


I swear to hell, this civilization can't collapse fast enough.

Yeah, let's wish for the death of every human alive, not work to improve it or anything.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:54 AM on May 6 [12 favorites]


New Jersey laws notwithstanding, this is not a defensive firearm, as witnessed by the .22 LR caliber, and people would not use it as such. People who wants to have a target shooting pistol, but are concerned about it falling into the wrong hands (kids, thieves) is the market demographic here.

Of special concern should be the thousands upon thousands of kids shot in the US every year.
posted by Harald74 at 9:55 AM on May 6 [11 favorites]


I'll get my smart gun when they place it in my cold dead hands?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:55 AM on May 6 [26 favorites]


Upon reading the Armatix website, I found this interesting Target Response System, as in "point you gun away from the paper target, and it won't fire".

I take it that that won't be a hit on the US market either...
posted by Harald74 at 9:57 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]


With the massive, massive amounts of money pro-gun lobbies have at their disposal and the fact that the law has been on the books for 10+ years, it's really surprising that they've not yet found a "we only sell maps to storage rooms full of free smart guns"-type workaround.
posted by griphus at 9:57 AM on May 6 [4 favorites]


The two principal objections I've read are that this creates an ID system for gun owners

That objection seems a bit weird to me. The gun and the bracelet are linked but I don't believe the scheme calls for any registry beyond serial numbers.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:59 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


What's the idea here- that the government could remotely control these guns? Is that why people are opposed to this?

there is a high-concept punchline in this.

Futuristic movie where a rogue army of various zombies, deviants, atheists etc have massed at the gates of a nice community and are at the pointing of opening fire when all of their SMARTTM guns are remotely disabled.

The nice people then massacre them all with good old-fashioned analogue weaponry.

The audience cheers.
posted by philip-random at 9:59 AM on May 6 [5 favorites]


Oh I got it: the 2nd Amendment protects every effort to sell or own any type of conceivable weaponry, except the Founding Fathers were really opposed to digital biometric verification systems.
posted by Mid at 10:01 AM on May 6 [56 favorites]


IMHO, the reality of the situation is that there are actually very few people on the NRA's side anymore. But the cranks sure make a lot of noise.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:01 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


The Washington Post video isn't loading for me, but I read this story earlier and I think it contains some clips from a video where the shop owner talks to the camera. Here's a direct YouTube link. This is a part of what he says in the video:
"If you're going to kill somebody, shoot the politicians who make these fucking laws. If that's who you wanna fucking go at, shoot the people who made these laws! Take 'em out in the street, and gun 'em the fuck down. There's a fucking reason why we got these fucking things! There's a fucking reason why we got 'em! And that's to defend our fucking freedom! Don't fucking come at me with this shit! That's to the people who called up and threatened to fucking kill me."
On one side of this disagreement, people have called in death threats. On the other side, the recipient of those threats has suggested that instead of killing him, they should kill certain politicians.

I want to suggest that gun-rights advocates promote someone else as their voice of reason.
posted by compartment at 10:01 AM on May 6 [56 favorites]


I wonder if I could discreetly obtain a gun dealer's license in MA, then get one of these guns and sell it (and promptly retire from the business.) It's a target pistol. I bet I could sell it to one of the gun range operators.
posted by ocschwar at 10:02 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]


Well how are you supposed to feel like a man if you have to get your guns permission to shoot it
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 10:02 AM on May 6 [25 favorites]


why have smart gun owners when you can have smart guns?
posted by entropone at 10:03 AM on May 6 [8 favorites]


The nice people then massacre them all with good old-fashioned analogue weaponry.

Look out, he's got a board with a nail in it!
posted by maryr at 10:04 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


Didn't someone sell a smart gun to that store owner?

Probably not. For a new product he would want to determine demand before keeping anything in stock.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:05 AM on May 6


I want to suggest that gun-rights advocates promote someone else as their voice of reason.

Yeah, especially since Ted Nugent has been such a stellar role-model for tact and decorum up until now.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:05 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


compartment: On one side of this disagreement, people have called in death threats. On the other side, the recipient of those threats has suggested that instead of killing him, they should kill certain politicians.

Yeah, I decided against including a direct link to the full video in the FPP for that reason. Still, it's amazing that a guy who thinks politicians should be shot for opposing gun rights generally was on the right side of the smart gun debate until he was personally threatened with bodily harm.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:05 AM on May 6


"Jim, you seem a bit angry right now- are you experiencing a lot of stress? Why don't you put me back in my holster and take a bit of a time out? Take a few deep breaths, maybe do some yoga. Or why not a nice cup of herbal tea?"
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:06 AM on May 6 [20 favorites]


if their shooting hand gets injured during an incident they'll be unable to hand the gun of to somebody they trust

oh good lord.
posted by soundguy99 at 10:06 AM on May 6 [39 favorites]


the Founding Fathers were really opposed to digital biometric verification systems

That point is immediately clear to any originalist.
posted by yoink at 10:08 AM on May 6 [17 favorites]


Forget burglars, I'm glad a gun can protect me from opinions I disagree with! Don't make me stand my ground!
posted by dr_dank at 10:09 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


This is why we need smart guns:
Another large case-control study compared women who were murdered by their intimate partner with a control group of battered women. Only 16 percent of the women who had been abused, but not murdered, had guns in their homes, whereas 51 percent of the murder victims did.
The difference between an alive abused woman and a murdered woman is access to a gun. Even her own gun. Smart guns could change that.
posted by fontophilic at 10:11 AM on May 6 [21 favorites]


Didn't someone sell a smart gun to that store owner?

Yes, it's odd that there's an emphasis on whether the store made a sale since the law triggers (pun intended) from a smart gun being delivered to a retailer or wholesaler, not from a retailer to a customer:
the Attorney General...shall report to the Governor and the Legislature as to the availability of personalized handguns for retail sales purposes until such time as the Attorney General shall deem that personalized handguns are available for retail sales purposes and so report to the Governor and the Legislature...personalized handguns shall be deemed to be available for retail sales purposes if at least one manufacturer has delivered at least one production model of a personalized handgun to a registered or licensed wholesale or retail dealer in New Jersey or any other state. As used in this subsection, the term "production model" shall mean a handgun which is the product of a regular manufacturing process that produces multiple copies of the same handgun model, and shall not include a prototype or other unique specimen that is offered for sale.
posted by cjelli at 10:11 AM on May 6 [6 favorites]


if their shooting hand gets injured during an incident they'll be unable to hand the gun of to somebody they trust

oh good lord.


Seriously, these folks tend to think that the real world works like an action film. They picture a world where their home is invaded only at the moment when they are armed and prepared for assault, where their obedient children hand ma and pa fresh ammo clips to continue fending off the savage hoardes until the cavalry arrives. I'm not "shooting from the hip" here either, I'm essentially paraphrasing actual conversations I've had with people in gun stores!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:11 AM on May 6 [40 favorites]


Oh I got it: the 2nd Amendment protects every effort to sell or own any type of conceivable weaponry,

It's actually interesting to see where the NRA draws the line on what they'll try to defend. Full-auto machine guns and Kevlar piercing bullets are just at the edge of their range. They won't touch grenades of any type, rocket launchers, missiles, mines, artillery ... None of the arms that a modern militia would really need.

Their base may be misguided but it is not outright insane.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:12 AM on May 6 [3 favorites]


if their shooting hand gets injured during an incident they'll be unable to hand the gun of to somebody they trust

Dang, I had a great idea for a smart gun that works by being permanently handcuffed to its owner, but I completely forgot the appalling statistics about how often that exact scenario happens.
posted by compartment at 10:13 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]


"Jim, I'm still going to need you to calm down a bit more. Your cortisol levels are abnormally high. I'm going to play some music now- it's Enya, Jim. Just relax and focus on slowly exhaling."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:13 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


color-coded operating mode, patented mechatronic interface for additional applications (e.g. camera)

There's some sort of selfie/Russian Roulette game in there somewhere.
posted by interrobang at 10:13 AM on May 6


Roll your eyes all you want, soundguy99. YouTube is full of folks whose idea of self defence is having an AR-15, seven or more 30-round mags, a sidearm and possible a backup pistol. In short, more kit than I've carried in my years as a (reserve) infantryman. Many of these guys (they're mostly guys) spend way more time and money on their kit than any type of training. This, of course, is a gold mine for the gun and "tactical" gear industry. Hence NRA's big budget.
posted by Harald74 at 10:13 AM on May 6 [4 favorites]


Here's what I never understood about the "we need guns to stave off government oppression" argument. Anyone who can rebut this is honestly welcome to do so.

The idea is that someday, if necessary, an armed citizenry would stand up to an oppressive American government. Okay. That sounds ridiculous to me, but let's walk it through. Let's say it happens. The worst case arrives.

So...who would go after the armed citizens? The police at first. Then would come the National Guard. The United States Army.

Therefore, those in favor of arming the citizenry to protect themselves against the possibility of government crackdowns would be against a large, powerful army, since that would be the primary means of oppression.

Right?

If the answer to that is no, these same people are not at all interested in a smaller army, then how can I take the "we need guns to protect ourselves from a government run amok" seriously at all?
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 10:14 AM on May 6 [18 favorites]


I'm not "shooting from the hip" here either, I'm essentially paraphrasing actual conversations I've had with people in gun stores!

To be fair, you are a Regiment. They probably assumed you are armed at all times, with sentries on duty.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:15 AM on May 6 [7 favorites]


if their shooting hand gets injured during an incident — such as, I don't know, defending against Operation Barbarossa.
posted by kiltedtaco at 10:15 AM on May 6


there is a high-concept punchline in this.

Futuristic movie where a rogue army of various zombies, deviants, atheists etc have massed at the gates of a nice community and are at the pointing of opening fire when all of their SMARTTM guns are remotely disabled.

The nice people then massacre them all with good old-fashioned analogue weaponry.

The audience cheers.


Something very much like this is the crux of the plot of Metal Gear Solid 4.
posted by kafziel at 10:15 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


When he put his hand inside his coat pocket, I was expecting him to produce a memory. Instead he produced a gun. It performed a couple of bars of ominous, pulsing violin when it came out of his pocket, like the occasional music titled GUN for an old radio show.
posted by adipocere at 10:16 AM on May 6 [8 favorites]


But we'll need these smart guns by 2019 when the replicants start trying to sneak back onto Earth.
posted by lagomorphius at 10:17 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


The difference between an alive abused woman and a murdered woman is access to a gun. Even her own gun. Smart guns could change that.
posted by fontophilic at 12:11 PM on May 6


I would consider owning a smart gun precisely because it couldn't be used against me. I refuse to carry, currently, because I think that I'm not strong enough to prevent an opponent from taking my gun away from me, and I genuinely don't know if I could kill somebody with it - what if I lock up, they take it from me, and use it to shoot me? That seems like a fairly likely scenario. I would consider carrying one of these guns.

To clarify, I'm not being abused.
posted by joannemerriam at 10:17 AM on May 6 [7 favorites]


Threatening a guy who owns a gun shop seems kind of stupid.
posted by echocollate at 10:20 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]


Dang, I had a great idea for a smart gun that works by being permanently handcuffed to its owner, but I completely forgot the appalling statistics about how often that exact scenario happens.

Never mind, I just realized you can solve the problem with smart handcuffs. Here's how it works. The gun has two handcuffs on it. One is attached to you and one is normally attached to nobody. Then when your shooting hand is shot (for newbs who never learned the ambidextrous technique), your partner can release your handcuff only by securing the other handcuff to his own wrist.

A bonus feature is that when you handcuff the gun to both arms, it shoots double bullets, like how in Galaga when you have the conjoined spaceships.
posted by compartment at 10:21 AM on May 6 [24 favorites]


Harvey Jerkwater that's a good point. Shouldn't those who argue that we need the ability to own guns to protect ourselves from an oppressive government also be against a large powerful military?

Otherwise, I don't need a handgun to protect myself. I need a drone and a nuclear warhead. Maybe a tank for good measure.
posted by inertia at 10:22 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


Threatening a guy who owns a gun shop seems kind of stupid.

Well, there's a reason these people aren't opposed to dumb guns.
posted by yoink at 10:22 AM on May 6 [3 favorites]


A bonus feature is that when you handcuff the gun to both arms, it shoots double bullets, like how in Galaga when you have the conjoined spaceships.

Can we just cut to the chase and start selling Lawgivers, please?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:22 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]


The two principal objections I've read are that this creates an ID system for gun owners and that if their shooting hand gets injured during an incident they'll be unable to hand the gun of to somebody they trust.

I thought the whole point of being a gun nut is that you don't trust anybody. I call shenanigans.
posted by jonp72 at 10:23 AM on May 6 [8 favorites]


What's the idea here- that the government could remotely control these guns? Is that why people are opposed to this?

First, I'd like to say that I strongly condemn death threats against business owners who are attempting to engage in commerce in their chosen trade, or individuals who want to purchase said guns, even if I think it's a bad idea for them to do so.

That said, here are a few of the legitimate objections to smart guns.

1) As they currently exist now, guns are not really subject to degradation in the same way a lot of technology is. If you bury guns now with proper precautions, you can dig them up in 50 years and use them. With proper maintenance, you can pass them not only to your children, but your children's children's children. It's one of the reasons gun confiscation in this country simply won't work - because the guns could just be hidden until needed. The best guns are not particularly complicated and are made up of parts that don't break easily. Smart guns - particularly if other states followed New Jersey's lead - would mean that the lifetime of a gun would be much, much shorter.

2) Smart guns mean you can't transfer your gun without outside (governmental) assistance and potential interference. It means it's really easy to intercept firearms at the point of transfer, which is not currently the case.

3) Smart guns are terrible for any prolonged combat situations, when your fingerprint may not be able to be read.
posted by corb at 10:23 AM on May 6 [12 favorites]


Threatening a guy who owns a gun shop seems kind of stupid.

Nonsense, it's the perfect way to demonstrate that the majority of gun owners are responsible nonviolent adults.
posted by kafziel at 10:24 AM on May 6 [4 favorites]


corb, those are all valid reasons to not want to own them, but not to prevent others from owning them.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:24 AM on May 6 [38 favorites]


Smart guns mean you can't transfer your gun without outside (governmental) assistance and potential interference

Good.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:25 AM on May 6 [32 favorites]


Sorry, I may have misread the question. The reason people probably want to prevent others from owning them is that states have a bad habit of making idiotic "safety" precautions mandatory.

Oh, I also forgot that including smart technology jacks up the price of guns and makes them impossible to service at home.

There are probably some gun speculators who are cheering this pretty loudly in the privacy of their homes, though. If this goes through, they just need to buy up a lot of cheap guns now and be sitting on a fortune in about ten years.
posted by corb at 10:27 AM on May 6 [4 favorites]


Therefore, those in favor of arming the citizenry to protect themselves against the possibility of government crackdowns would be against a large, powerful army, since that would be the primary means of oppression.

The answer is that the past couple of wars has shown that a group of lightly armed people using guerilla tactics can stand up quite well against the US military. Especially if they can mingle amoung the background populace.

This of course posits we would be evil enough to subject the American soil to miltary rule, but not evil enough napalm/biological/chemical/MOAB spots of resistance. That we would be nice enough to try and do "peacekeeping" operations, and not all out war.

So, it's a bunch of people who saw Red Dawn too many times, and not the Hunger Games.
posted by zabuni at 10:28 AM on May 6 [11 favorites]


Smart guns mean you can't transfer your gun without outside (governmental) assistance and potential interference

That's not true of the gun in question--it works in a given proximity to a pin-coded wristwatch. Hand the gun and the wristwatch from person A to person B and it continues to work.

Smart guns are terrible for any prolonged combat situations, when your fingerprint may not be able to be read.


There is no fingerprint-reading component in this particular gun.
posted by yoink at 10:28 AM on May 6 [37 favorites]


tonycpsu: "corb, those are all valid reasons to not want to own them, but not to prevent others from owning them."

The concern is that if smart guns go on the market, non-smart guns will be banned.
posted by zarq at 10:28 AM on May 6 [9 favorites]


Therefore, those in favor of arming the citizenry to protect themselves against the possibility of government crackdowns would be against a large, powerful army, since that would be the primary means of oppression.

Right?


The Battle of the Strip Mall Off I-295 (May 5th, 2017)
An antique mall, a Chinese restaurant, a Subway restaurant, a closed comic book store, and a sporting goods store were briefly captured by men of the Jacksonville Freedom SEAL Team Guard. The Gadsden flag was run up the flagpole outside and inside the men smashed up Tiffany lamps and tried out crab Rangoon subs. Their demand was the complete resignation of all US government office-holders and the surrender of the United States to Florida's panhandle. Shortly before nine PM, a salvo of rockets from a US Army M270 MLRS vehicle located 45 kilometers away obliterated the strip mall with such force that the dental records of the men inside were somehow blown off the dentist's office computer.
-From "Great Battles of the New American Revolution," by Zack Parsons
posted by Iridic at 10:28 AM on May 6 [35 favorites]


Roll your eyes all you want, soundguy99. YouTube is full of folks whose idea of self defence is having an AR-15, seven or more 30-round mags, a sidearm and possible a backup pistol. In short, more kit than I've carried in my years as a (reserve) infantryman. Many of these guys (they're mostly guys) spend way more time and money on their kit than any type of training. This, of course, is a gold mine for the gun and "tactical" gear industry. Hence NRA's big budget.

Oh yeah, sure, I know these people exist and I understand the firearms industry's financial motivation for encouraging this train of thought. Long before YouTube existed I worked for a guy who subscribed to half a dozen gun mags, so I've got plenty of exposure to this way of thinking.

I'm rolling my eyes at the idea that this is a realistic way of looking at the world, though. Just like I roll my eyes at evolution deniers.

The fact that these people exist is not a reason to take them seriously. Except insofar as these people are dominant voices in any gun control debate here in the U.S.
posted by soundguy99 at 10:28 AM on May 6


corb: The reason people probably want to prevent others from owning them is that states have a bad habit of making idiotic "safety" precautions mandatory.

Well, there's one state, not "states", and, as stated in the FPP, a deal is on offer to repeal that law in exchange for allowing these guns to come to market elsewhere. Assuming no further bans on non-smart guns are on the horizon, is that a deal the gun lobby should take?
posted by tonycpsu at 10:29 AM on May 6


Here's the second amendment solution once and for all. Every man, woman, and child gets the arms that were available to the founding fathers: a flintlock pistol and a musket. Everyone gets this, no questions asked. After that, the gun hoopla ceases.

Then maybe the nation can move on to more pressing matters.
posted by dr_dank at 10:29 AM on May 6 [6 favorites]


Smart guns are terrible for any prolonged combat situations, when your fingerprint may not be able to be read.

Last time I checked, there are no war zones in this country. Given the lack of evidence that being armed is a deterrence in either potential or ongoing combat situations, the only application for this is law enforcement, which in my opinion is the perfect place for it to be used. In the rare case that a criminal acquires the gun, it can't be used, and if it is used in an excessive force or similar case, it stops shifting of any blame.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:30 AM on May 6 [10 favorites]


1) As they currently exist now, guns are not really subject to degradation in the same way a lot of technology is. If you bury guns now with proper precautions, you can dig them up in 50 years and use them. With proper maintenance, you can pass them not only to your children, but your children's children's children. It's one of the reasons gun confiscation in this country simply won't work - because the guns could just be hidden until needed. The best guns are not particularly complicated and are made up of parts that don't break easily. Smart guns - particularly if other states followed New Jersey's lead - would mean that the lifetime of a gun would be much, much shorter.

2) Smart guns mean you can't transfer your gun without outside (governmental) assistance and potential interference. It means it's really easy to intercept firearms at the point of transfer, which is not currently the case.

3) Smart guns are terrible for any prolonged combat situations, when your fingerprint may not be able to be read.


1) Inheritance is vaguely true, if trivial, but the rest of this argument seems to be that non-smart guns are better because then you can more easily violate imaginary laws. Laws that will remain completely imaginary - confiscation is nothing but a paranoid fantasy.

2) This is no more true with smart guns than with any other gun. You're supposed to record gun transfers anyway.

3) This is also entirely not true. The gun in question operates off of an RFID-linked wristband, not a fingerprint scanner.

None of these are "legitimate objections" to smart guns being offered for sale. At least pretend to argue in good faith, here.
posted by kafziel at 10:30 AM on May 6 [19 favorites]


corb:

2) Smart guns mean you can't transfer your gun without outside (governmental) assistance and potential interference.

This gun works based on proximity to a smart watch (or knowledge of a backup pin) transfer the watch (or the pin) to the new buyer with the gun and no assistance needed.

3) Smart guns are terrible for any prolonged combat situations, when your fingerprint may not be able to be read.

This gun works based on proximity to a smart watch (or knowledge of a backup pin). No fingerprints are used.

I agree that your first point makes sense (and the NJ law banning non-smart guns was probably pretty short-sighted) but do you disagree that smart guns should be available to the people who want to buy them?
posted by sparklemotion at 10:30 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]


I don't trust my computer to handle the 3D print of my gun either. My guns must be made in the USA by either the Marlboro Man or John Matrix. Only way to be truly free.
posted by Brocktoon at 10:31 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


At least pretend to argue in good faith, here.

As you can see from my post above, I think Corb is mistaken on this issue; I don't see any reason, however, to automatically assume that Corb is arguing in "bad faith." There's a difference between being wrong or being misinformed and "arguing in bad faith."
posted by yoink at 10:32 AM on May 6 [14 favorites]


What are the actual stated reasons why people oppose businesses selling smart-guns? I understand there are stupid reason for opposing them, but surely the gun nuts have learned a thing or two about PR and done some sloganeering.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:33 AM on May 6


This gun works based on proximity to a smart watch (or knowledge of a backup pin). No fingerprints are used.

Yes, but Who Watches the Watches?
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:33 AM on May 6 [17 favorites]


zarq: The concern is that if smart guns go on the market, non-smart guns will be banned.

The concern is always that guns will be banned, but they're never actually banned, and they cannot be banned under the current interpretation of the Second Amendment. With that much protection against an outright ban, I don't see why law-abiding gun owners wouldn't welcome the availability of a safer gun for people who want one. And, even if they can square this circle, they can't reconcile that opposition with the maximalist interpretations of the Second Amendment that they use to defend their rights to other guns.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:34 AM on May 6 [3 favorites]


The reason people probably want to prevent others from owning them is that states have a bad habit of making idiotic "safety" precautions mandatory.

Well, there's one state, not "states", and, as stated in the FPP, a deal is on offer to repeal that law in exchange for allowing these guns to come to market elsewhere. Assuming no further bans on non-smart guns are on the horizon, is that a deal the gun lobby should take?


That's not what was asked, though. What was asked was "What's the idea here- that the government could remotely control these guns? Is that why people are opposed to this?" One of the ideas in question is that there actually is a law on the books that fairly strongly diminishes what a lot of people see as their right to bear arms, based on these guns being sold. One state senator making an offer literally yesterday is not really a refutation of the thinking that preceded it.
posted by Etrigan at 10:34 AM on May 6 [5 favorites]


Perhaps it's just easier and more satisfying for them to bully and threaten small business owners than lawmakers.
posted by inertia at 10:34 AM on May 6 [5 favorites]


Etrigan: One state senator making an offer literally yesterday is not really a refutation of the thinking that preceded it.

I didn't say it was a refutation, I'm saying it's a serious offer on the table to change the only existing law that does this.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:36 AM on May 6


What are the actual stated reasons why people oppose businesses selling smart-guns?
New Jersey has a law on the books saying that all guns sold in NJ must be smart-guns within 3 years after the first smart-gun is sold in the US.

People who still want tobe able to buy dumb guns (b/c they don't trust/like the technology) have a pretty understandable reason to be opposed to the sale (death threats, etc, are obviously not cool).
posted by sparklemotion at 10:36 AM on May 6 [4 favorites]


What you got here is your basic marketing problem. You can't sell smart guns to dumb people.
posted by octobersurprise at 10:37 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]


if smart guns are anything like smart people, they will occasionally do really stupid things.
posted by bruce at 10:37 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


One state senator making an offer literally yesterday is not really a refutation of the thinking that preceded it.

I didn't say it was a refutation, I'm saying it's a serious offer on the table to change the only existing law that does this.


You said it as a reply to corb pointing out that the law existed and was a factor in people's opposition to smart guns. That was somewhere between a pivot and a move of the goalposts.
posted by Etrigan at 10:38 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


Mea culpa, mea maximus culpa. I saw the post and read a bit about the NJ law, but somehow mentally substituted another kind of smart gun I was looking at with this one. Ignore everything I said above about fingerprints and keep the rest.

Assuming no further bans on non-smart guns are on the horizon, is that a deal the gun lobby should take?

That's a pretty big assumption, but looking at it: assuming that there was some kind of iron clad guarantee that the existence of smart guns would not be used as any kind of reasoning for any kind of gun ban, anywhere, for the next twenty years? Yes, that's a deal the gun lobby should take. As it currently stands, though, it is one hundred percent in the gun lobby's best interest to fight these things tooth and nail, because even if lawmakers don't ban non-smart guns, they may well use the existence of smart guns as a reason to ban certain types of non-smart guns. "ARs are dangerous, and besides, if someone really wanted one, there's always the SmARt." The problem is that there's no such thing as an iron clad guarantee - our government is always changing, and so the gun lobby's best bet is to keep the Overton window where they need it.
posted by corb at 10:39 AM on May 6 [3 favorites]


1. Person believes in unfettered personal firearm possession to protect freedom and independence.

2. Same person threatens the life of gun dealer for attempting to sell guns that offends Person's sensibilities.

3. Person is, by definition, a clueless hypocrite and asshole.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:40 AM on May 6 [18 favorites]


Here's what I never understood about the "we need guns to stave off government oppression" argument.

I completely understand why people buy into this argument. What scares me is that the random guys with guns become the "government oppression" themselves.
posted by jonp72 at 10:41 AM on May 6 [4 favorites]


Right now in Nevada, there are two militia groups trying to prove to each other which one is more patriotic, or something, and are doing so by threatening to shoot each other. If one ever had confidence in how well regulated and terrific these militias would be at protecting us from the government, I think that confidence should be reassessed.
posted by rtha at 10:41 AM on May 6 [28 favorites]


How much would it cost to crowdsource the licenses and so on to set up a gun shop whose entire purpose was to buy at wholesale and then sell at retail one smart gun, and then shut down so as to prevent retribution, I wonder? That would just get over the hurdle already so that other people could purchase them.
posted by Sequence at 10:42 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]


The concern is always that guns will be banned, but they're never actually banned, and they cannot be banned under the current interpretation of the Second Amendment.

You've moved the goalposts from the statement you were responding to, which was, "The concern is that if smart guns go on the market, non-smart guns will be banned." (Emphasis added.) Speaking as an attorney with expertise in firearms law, I would disagree that the current interpretation of the Second Amendment necessarily precludes states from requiring that all firearms include this sort of technology. There is no clear indication that'd be unconstitutional.

Yes, that's a deal the gun lobby should take.

Why? New Jersey is one state among fifty, and I doubt it's disproportionately represented among NRA members. The idea of a state senator brokering a deal on an issue with the stakes and history of gun control is just plain silly, and only a channel like MSNBC—or Fox, if she were Republican—would take her seriously.
posted by cribcage at 10:45 AM on May 6 [3 favorites]


The certainty that certain kinds of guns will be used in future murders is a totally insufficient reason to prevent those guns from being sold.

The possibility that certain kinds of guns will be used in future regulations is a perfectly sufficient reason to prevent those guns from being sold.
posted by burden at 10:47 AM on May 6 [5 favorites]


I wonder if the anti-smart-gun-selling crowd are aware that this disqualifies them forever from the rhetorical use of the term "free market".

If they held themselves to a reasonable standard they wouldn't be anti-smart-selling people so as usual, free market will be liquid in meaning, as in when it fits their objectives.

I want to suggest that gun-rights advocates promote someone else as their voice of reason.

Have they ever promoted someone as their voice of reason?
posted by juiceCake at 10:48 AM on May 6


Tell Me No Lies: That objection seems a bit weird to me. The gun and the bracelet are linked but I don't believe the scheme calls for any registry beyond serial numbers.

You went wrong when you decided that those who fear a national registry use anything remotely approaching logic. They do not. They live, and vote, basing their decisions on completely paranoid delusions.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:48 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


Here's what I never understood about the "we need guns to stave off government oppression" argument.

Here's what I never understand about this argument: the people putting it forward never use their guns to stave off government oppression. I don't see any of these "cold dead hands" types out there using their firepower to defend the citizenry against stop-and-frisk, free speech zones, police brutality, or any of the other immediate threats to the citizenry from government overreach. Waaaay back at the "Battle in Seattle" WTO clusterfuck, I asked a bunch of RKBA enthusiasts why they weren't out their with their guns defending the right of the people to speak freely and peaceably assemble, and their excuses were "Well, it wouldn't do any good, and I might get hurt."
posted by KathrynT at 10:49 AM on May 6 [73 favorites]


tonycpsu: " The concern is always that guns will be banned, but they're never actually banned, and they cannot be banned under the current interpretation of the Second Amendment. With that much protection against an outright ban, I don't see why law-abiding gun owners wouldn't welcome the availability of a safer gun for people who want one. And, even if they can square this circle, they can't reconcile that opposition with the maximalist interpretations of the Second Amendment that they use to defend their rights to other guns."

Sorry. Perhaps I should have been clearer. Not "all guns" but types of guns. Banning (or restricting) ownership of specific types of guns has happened before, and continues to be a work in progress. It's not rare. Which is why I delineated between smart and non-smart guns.

There are several federal laws on the books which ban the sale and ownership of specific types of guns. Most states have laws restricting the kinds of guns that can be owned or sold within their borders. Some states have stringent gun laws regarding when licenses may be issued for specific types of guns (for example, in NYS, you are not permitted to own a handgun without a license. You can't buy a new machine gun in some states. Short shotguns. Etc.)
posted by zarq at 10:49 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]


That would just get over the hurdle already so that other people could purchase them.

There's a lot of things standing in the way of that, a big one (that I can see) being that the law is a human institution and requires someone to execute it. There's plenty of unenforced, unrepealed laws on the books in every jurisdiction.

Even if you could get the required licenses, and get the wholesaler to sell the gun(s) to you, whoever is responsible for saying "okay, this is the one that counts" could very well declare that the stuff you did doesn't count.
posted by griphus at 10:50 AM on May 6


Technical issues aside, my reading is that there is a fear that this sort of control might become mandatory. Is that right?

Yes. And it's not a hypothetical issue, there is an actual law on the books that would make such controls mandatory in New Jersey, five years after any such system goes on sale anywhere in the US, which is driving much of the opposition.

Were it not for that concern, it would just be yet another firearms technology that probably won't do very well in the marketplace, like electronic firing systems. (Cool idea but as it turns out most people don't like unnecessary electronics in their guns.)

But yeah, there's a huge amount of opposition to the introduction of a patented, proprietary, expensive, complex electronic system in a way that lends itself to becoming mandatory. And with no guarantees that the existence of a system won't encourage legislators to make it mandatory, the best way to prevent it from becoming mandatory is to just keep it from existing in the marketplace to begin with.

It's all politics, it's not about the technology.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:52 AM on May 6 [8 favorites]


I guess I'm just appalled that the hypothetical "state might see the existence of smart guns as a way to roll back access to non-smart guns" takes precedence over the Second Amendment rights of people who want guns with these smart features. You're blocking access to guns with certain features now in the hopes that it staves off hypothetical bans on guns with different features later.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:52 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]


corb: "The problem is that there's no such thing as an iron clad guarantee - our government is always changing, and so the gun lobby's best bet is to keep the Overton window where they need it."

No matter how many dead first graders it takes.
posted by Big_B at 10:54 AM on May 6 [29 favorites]


certainty that certain kinds of guns will be used in future murders is a totally insufficient reason to prevent those guns from being sold.

Actually, people very rarely put gun bans in place based on their likelihood to murder. A majority of the guns that are banned are large guns - semi-automatic rifles, combat shotguns, etc. Yet these guns are used in a bare fraction of firearms homicides. They may be used in the more media-sensational ones, but they're not the criminal weapon of choice.
posted by corb at 10:55 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


corb: A majority of the guns that are banned are large guns - semi-automatic rifles, combat shotguns, etc

...because handgun bans are illegal. Come on.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:56 AM on May 6 [8 favorites]


A majority of the guns that are banned are large guns - semi-automatic rifles, combat shotguns, etc. Yet these guns are used in a bare fraction of firearms homicides.

Except the big headliners in movie theatres and elementary schools?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:57 AM on May 6 [5 favorites]


...my reading is that there is a fear that this sort of control might become mandatory. Is that right?

And once the lefties make it almost impossible for your kid to accidentally shoot his best friend, you're half-way down the slippery slope to the FEMA gulags.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:57 AM on May 6 [15 favorites]


hypothetical "state might see the existence of smart guns as a way to roll back access to non-smart guns" takes precedence over the Second Amendment rights of people who want guns with these smart features

Except that: (1) it's not hypothetical, there is an actual law which serves to perfectly validate gun rights groups' fears over this, and (2) the Second Amendment defines the relationship between the government and the people, it doesn't say anything about the marketplace necessarily having to provide you with the gun you want. Death threats aside, which are clearly illegal, providing pressure on retailers to not carry a particular product does not create a Second Amendment issue. (Any more than anti-gun groups pressuring retailers to not sell guns does.) If it did, then there would be a valid Second Amendment case against any retailer who decided to stop selling guns and thus prevented people who wanted to buy them from accessing them. I presume you can see why that argument doesn't hold water.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:57 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]


would mean that the lifetime of a gun would be much, much shorter.

Which, come to think of it, you would think the gun lobby, or at least the manufacturers' reps, would be entirely in favor of. Planned obsolescence, y'know.

"Whoops, looks like your firearm isn't Windows 14 compatible, and it'll cost $500 parts and labor to replace the chip. But y'know, Colt's got a $200 rebate on this year's model going right now . . . "
posted by soundguy99 at 10:57 AM on May 6 [8 favorites]


No matter how many dead first graders it takes.

The occasional horrific civilian massacre is just the price the rest of us have to pay.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:58 AM on May 6 [11 favorites]


tonycpsu: "I guess I'm just appalled that the hypothetical "state might see the existence of smart guns as a way to roll back access to non-smart guns" takes precedence over the Second Amendment rights of people who want guns with these smart features. You're blocking access to guns with certain features now in the hopes that it staves off hypothetical bans on guns with different features later."

I am equally appalled. I think it's stupidly short-sighted of them.
posted by zarq at 11:00 AM on May 6


No matter how many dead first graders it takes.

Or fifth graders! Funny thing, this is exactly the sort of scenario that smartgun technology is designed to prevent. Oh well!
posted by kafziel at 11:01 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


Actually, people very rarely put gun bans in place based on their likelihood to murder.

The nattering about the cosmetic nature of the AWB and its applicability to criminal use was arguably due to heavy lobbying on the part of the gun industry aimed precisely at neutering it and providing a basis to prevent a future implementation.

A majority of the guns that are banned are large guns - semi-automatic rifles, combat shotguns, etc. Yet these guns are used in a bare fraction of firearms homicides.

Handgun bans are routinely proposed as well, but shot down with exactly the same level of vehemence and vituperativeness as any other ban. Which begs the question, having admitted that they're responsible for the overwhelming majority of crimes, would you personally support legislation aimed at reducing handgun purchase and use?
posted by zombieflanders at 11:01 AM on May 6 [3 favorites]


...because handgun bans are illegal. Come on.

It is a relatively recent development—one that some jurisdictions are still struggling with, in some cases ignoring—that per se handgun bans are unconstitutional. So that doesn't have much to do with the rationale behind why bans have historically focused on long guns.

I guess I'm just appalled that the hypothetical "state might see the existence of smart guns as a way to roll back access to non-smart guns" takes precedence over the Second Amendment rights of people who want guns with these smart features.

I think a major component is that the issue carries a strong whiff of insincerity. Many of the people talking about the "Second Amendment rights" of would-be smart-gun owners are not, shall we say, people who have a marked history of championing Second Amendment rights.
posted by cribcage at 11:02 AM on May 6 [5 favorites]


I can see several problems with handing trigger control over to embedded computers.

You already hand the following life threatening/saving operations over to embedded computers:
* Gas control of your furnace
* Throttle control, braking, traction of your car
* Flight envelope of planes
posted by Talez at 11:03 AM on May 6 [16 favorites]


Handgun bans are routinely proposed as well, but shot down with exactly the same level of vehemence and vituperativeness as any other ban. Which begs the question, having admitted that they're responsible for the overwhelming majority of crimes, would you personally support legislation aimed at reducing handgun purchase and use?

Handgun bans are explicitly unconstitutional, so the gunfondler lobby can keep trotting that talking point out and never have to worry about being called on it.
posted by kafziel at 11:03 AM on May 6 [4 favorites]


First, I'd like to say that I strongly condemn death threats against business owners who are attempting to engage in commerce in their chosen trade, or individuals who want to purchase said guns, even if I think it's a bad idea for them to do so.

How about the death threats to legislators?
posted by Aizkolari at 11:04 AM on May 6


This of course posits we would be evil enough to subject the American soil to miltary rule, but not evil enough napalm/biological/chemical/MOAB spots of resistance.



Mouth On Ass & Balls?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:04 AM on May 6 [7 favorites]


Massive Ordnance Air Blast.
posted by kafziel at 11:06 AM on May 6


Mother Of All Bombs, if I'm not mistaken.
posted by KathrynT at 11:06 AM on May 6


. . . which I apparently am!
posted by KathrynT at 11:06 AM on May 6 [3 favorites]


Hello. One of MetaFilter's token "gun nuts" here. (I'm so nutty that I'm a member of JPFO because the NRA is too left-wing for me!)

Here's a data point on what one gun nut thinks of all this:

I have no problem with people making, selling, and buying "smart" guns. I wouldn't want one myself, but I'm fine with other people having them if that's what they're comfortable with.

I do have a problem with laws that would then make the sale of non-smart-guns illegal. Thus, I understand why people are opposing sales of smart guns as long as such sales would trigger the enforcement of such a law. I think their tactics suck, but I understand why they're so upset -- as the law stands now, someone else buying a smart gun would indeed infringe upon their right to buy a non-smart gun.

If that law in New Jersey is repealed and other jurisdictions refrain from passing similar laws, then I say "yay, bring on the 'smart' guns!"

But since I don't live in New Jersey, this is near the bottom of my list of things to give a shit about either way. My own state is too busy being horrible about women's rights, gay rights, and the environment for me to have any energy left over to get upset about what goes on in other states.

I think that the average gun owner's / gun rights activist's position is much closer to mine than it is to that of the internet trolls and assorted crazies that some of you are digging up and trying to present as representative.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program of ridiculing strawmen.
posted by Jacqueline at 11:06 AM on May 6 [17 favorites]


Actually, people very rarely put gun bans in place based on their likelihood to murder. A majority of the guns that are banned are large guns - semi-automatic rifles, combat shotguns, etc. Yet these guns are used in a bare fraction of firearms homicides.

And silly logic like this is why I'm a Bayesian!
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:07 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


MOA (DI)B?
posted by zarq at 11:07 AM on May 6 [7 favorites]


It's interesting to contrast this thread with the one about washing machines, in which people lament the unreliability of electronic components. I don't often find myself agreeing with corb, but I don't know that I'd want to trust my safety to something which (given current consumer technology trends) will be obsolete within a decade.

"Hey, burglar, hold on a second. I just need to download this driver."
posted by desjardins at 11:09 AM on May 6 [6 favorites]


Jacqueline: " I think that the average gun owner's / gun rights activist's position is much closer to mine than it is to that of the internet trolls and assorted crazies that some of you are digging up and trying to present as representative."

We're not "digging them up." These people are being covered by the news media because they are making death threats over the issue.
posted by zarq at 11:09 AM on May 6 [15 favorites]


The answer is that the past couple of wars has shown that a group of lightly armed people using guerilla tactics can stand up quite well against the US military. Especially if they can mingle amoung the background populace.

This of course posits we would be evil enough to subject the American soil to miltary rule, but not evil enough napalm/biological/chemical/MOAB spots of resistance. That we would be nice enough to try and do "peacekeeping" operations, and not all out war.


Would you classify WWII as all-out war? Because you may recall that, even with sustained strategic bombing that killed millions, it still took a physical invasion of Europe and Japan to control them. Soldiers can't run manufacturing or agricultural centers without a lot of civilian help. All warfare comes down to someone standing on a hill saying "This is mine, and you can't have it" -- everything else is support.
posted by Etrigan at 11:09 AM on May 6 [3 favorites]


As soon as SCOTUS gets around to legalizing Christian prayer in public schools, we will have our solution to the school shooting problem once and for all and go back to watching the playoffs.
posted by spitbull at 11:11 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]


"Hey, burglar, hold on a second. I just need to download this driver."

"Hey, burglar, just let me get my unloaded weapon from my gun safe and load it."

Has about the same ring.
posted by smidgen at 11:14 AM on May 6 [12 favorites]


Also, it's clear that Apple and Google and Samsung and Amazon and (oh dear) Microsoft* need to get into the SmartGun business. You'd have the iGun, which everyone would carry but would only use to shoot rainbows, the AutoDroid, preferred by the libertarian crowd and hackable by terrorists, a smart gun that could alert the shooter that he had a milk mustache but not shoot straight, a gun that would automatically order new bullets, and a gun that was guaranteed to fail only when you actually needed it. Problem solved.

* Gives a whole new meaning to "blue screen of death."
posted by spitbull at 11:15 AM on May 6


Wait a minute here, this means because of this crazy NJ law, I now have to ideologically oppose my own fervent desire to replace my right hand with the barrel of a shotgun that's surgically implanted in my arm and triggered directly by my brain via my erstwhile trigger finger nerve?
posted by Flunkie at 11:17 AM on May 6 [8 favorites]


I'm so nutty that I'm a member of JPFO because the NRA is too left-wing for me!

Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.
posted by goethean at 11:18 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


"Hey, burglar, hold on a second. I just need to download this driver."

Indeed. Personally I'm tired of computers. My least favorite workplace was a brand-new courthouse where everything in the bathroom had been computerized: the toilets, the sink faucets, the paper towel dispenser, even the damned lights. And none of it worked correctly. The toilets flushed too often. The faucets wouldn't turn off. The paper towels wouldn't dispense. The damned lights kept going off.

I remember reading an article in WIRED maybe fifteen years ago, about an idea to provide cities with wireless connectivity by flying unmanned drones overhead for up to six months without maintenance or landing. Of course I am totally unqualified to speak to any of the technical aspects, but I think being a human being with common sense qualifies me to say that's a stupid idea. When the tech industry can keep my MacBook from crashing for a week—and I am not running any kind of complicated software on this thing—then maybe we'll talk about computerized planes flying aloft for months at a time.

Computerization has become a religion. If they can stick a computer in it, they will.
posted by cribcage at 11:19 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]


Planned obsolescence, y'know.

I'm confident the manufacturers themselves actually would be in favor of that. They'd have made guns to wear faster in order to eliminate the secondary market (which is vast, compared to most products) decades ago, if they could have. And they'd probably have proprietary ammunition and other fun printer-ink style stuff too.

But the thing many people don't understand about the firearms marketplace is that manufacturers don't have as much power as external observers think that they do. It's a common misconception, for instance, that the NRA is a trade organization backed by firearms manufacturers. Which may be true financially (although the exact amount of money coming from which sources isn't clear or disclosed), but it's certainly not true in terms of "thought leadership." That's all still very bottom-up, and it drives the industry and what it brings to market.

The big manufacturers regularly try to anticipate market demand or interest and fall flat, only to be surprised by what actually sells. (The sudden resurgence in popularity of revolvers and classic repeating rifles in the 90s, for instance, seemed to catch a lot of manufacturers unprepared.) The primary market for firearms is more like fashion, with small boutique producers out on the cutting edge, and the big producers always a few years behind. The economics — time and investment to tool up a production line, mostly — are such that they can't take a lot of risks. The margins are thin and the cost of inventory and unsold goods is very high.

So it ends up being a very customer-driven marketplace, very different from, say, high-tech gadgets (or cars) where the manufacturers basically decide what they're going to ram down consumers' throats this year and people buy it pretty much regardless. The manufacturers don't have the leverage to push products on buyers that the buyers aren't excited about already.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:20 AM on May 6 [4 favorites]


Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

All y'all are invited to friend me on Facebook. Link is in my profile. Although these days it's less politics and more me moping over my dead cat. :(
posted by Jacqueline at 11:21 AM on May 6


These poor people are so, so scared.

And heavily armed.
posted by gottabefunky at 11:25 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


Kadin2048: Death threats aside, which are clearly illegal

Yet they certainly do seem to be a go-to tool in the pro-gun toolbox. Two is a small sample size, but in both instances where these guns were about to go to market, people involved were threatened for simply wanting to provide access to a firearm. While this isn't the fault of any particular gun owner or gun rights supporter, you can draw a direct line from the maximalist "cold dead hands" rhetoric to the fear and resentment that motivated these assholes to engage in these tactics.

it's not hypothetical, there is an actual law which serves to perfectly validate gun rights' groups fears over this

Right, I acknowledged this in the FPP, and even said in comments that it's legitimate to oppose them as long as that law exists. My question is, if we get rid of that one law, an offer that's now on the table, shouldn't that the gun lobby to reconsider? Why are they so scared of these guns being the thing that reduces their iron-clad grip on the balls of legislators?

the Second Amendment defines the relationship between the government and the people, it doesn't say anything about the marketplace necessarily having to provide you with the gun you want

I cede this point while retaining my right to have a hearty laugh the next time someone talks about the tyranny of the government interfering in the free market. Anything that a government can do to private industry can be done just as easily by a few market players acting in their own self-interest.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:25 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


. All warfare comes down to someone standing on a hill saying "This is mine, and you can't have it" -- everything else is support.

True, but unless you have a TAC-50 or some other high calibre sniper rifle, and extreme sniper skills, shooting back against the US military from your hilltop is going to be an exercise in futility even when it comes to door to door combat. You have to eat sometime, you're gonna come out in the open eventually, and those guys can tap you from so far away you won't even see them, let alone light them up with your laser.
posted by spitbull at 11:25 AM on May 6


Jacqueline: "(I'm so nutty that I'm a member of JPFO because the NRA is too left-wing for me!)"

I see they're repeating the pernicious gun lobby talking point that if only we Jews had been well-armed, we would have been able to fight off the Nazis. I debunked that victim-blaming misconception here.

But hey, way to support an organization that's spreading that borderline antisemitic bullshit.
posted by zarq at 11:26 AM on May 6 [32 favorites]


Dang, I had a great idea for a smart gun that works by being permanently handcuffed to its owner, but I completely forgot the appalling statistics about how often that exact scenario happens.

Isn't that the power holster that's in Harry Harrison's Deathworld novels?
posted by wenestvedt at 11:28 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


You have to eat sometime, you're gonna come out in the open eventually, and those guys can tap you from so far away you won't even see them, let alone light them up with your laser.

Well, yes, but so do they. The idea that the U.S. military is impossible to resist against with small arms and easily obtainable explosives is pretty easy to refute in the 21st Century.
posted by Etrigan at 11:29 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]


The primary market for firearms is more like fashion

This. I think that is at the root of the problem right there. Gun nuts don't actually take guns seriously, although they, just like the NRA, will give lots of lip service to doing so.

as the law stands now, someone else buying a smart gun would indeed infringe upon their right to buy a non-smart gun. [...] We now return you to your regularly scheduled program of ridiculing strawmen.

Hahaha... just like the government infringes on my right to buy a car with an automatic transmission outside their specifications -- or without seat restraints. Honestly, no strawmen needed -- you've provided enough fodder.

Car nuts don't do this -- plenty of safety regulations are passed for cars-- yes, making them more complex, and potentially more fragile. Plenty of older cars are valuable because you can't make them the same way anymore. Oh well...

Guns are *made* for killing or injuring things, that is their original purpose. Smart weapons in no way impede using the gun for target practice or the gun being used as a fashion accessory for libertarians. They should have *way* more controls than they do -- and my opinion of "gun nuts" has not changed, sorry.
posted by smidgen at 11:34 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]


it's clear that Apple and Google and Samsung and Amazon and (oh dear) Microsoft* need to get into the SmartGun business.

That's not how these companies work. If they sold weapons, they make one single steamroller which you would use to crush your enemies.

Separately...

Plenty of older cars are valuable because you can't make them the same way anymore. Oh well...

I had a co-worker recently buy a truck that's as old as I am (which is pretty old) simply because it was old enough to not need to be smog tested. Which he opposes on principle.
posted by GuyZero at 11:37 AM on May 6


I had a co-worker recently buy a truck that's as old as I am (which is pretty old) simply because it was old enough to not need to be smog tested. Which he opposes on principle.

The principle that more kids need asthma?
posted by jsturgill at 11:40 AM on May 6 [18 favorites]


Death threats against gun dealers? Impossible. I have it on the best authority that an armed society is a polite society.
posted by Western Infidels at 11:41 AM on May 6 [31 favorites]


Jacqueline: I think that the average gun owner's / gun rights activist's position is much closer to mine than it is to that of the internet trolls and assorted crazies that some of you are digging up and trying to present as representative.

As zarq rightly points out, this isn't nutpicking. Not only has no assertion has been made that the people doing this are representative, but these were also prominent stories in major publications and on television, so there was no need to dig anything up.

These threats are happening, and they're not happening in a vacuum. The Manichean rhetoric coming directly from the Wayne LaPierres and Larry Platts of the world has consequences, and just because the median gun owner doesn't approve of death threats doesn't mean that they're not silently thankful that someone out there is doing what's necessary to protect their rights. It's easy to write these perpetrators off as crazies, but they're crazies tuned into the same frequencies many more mainstream gun owners are tuned into, except they've just got their receiver cranked up to 11. If you're supporting groups that use this maximalist, rhetoric, then you're supporting an "us versus them" view of the world that appeals to the nuts who will take that message and run with it in ways that you might not approve of. The blood's not going to be on your hands when someone acts on these threats, but it's definitely going to be on the hands of the people you're giving money to.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:44 AM on May 6 [4 favorites]


The idea that the U.S. military is impossible to resist against with small arms and easily obtainable explosives is pretty easy to refute in the 21st Century.

True enough, but I find the hypothetical silly on a more fundamental level: its bright lines. Whenever this subject is raised, it always assumes "the military" is battling "civilians." Like, nobody will cross lines. There won't be any private gun owners who will side with the mustache-twisting federal government, and there won't be any Special Forces guys who will flip and bring their snazzy weapons into the secret base of the Resistance. Come on, people. I think "but what if REVOLUTION?!" is a dumb tangent of the gun control conversation, but if you're going to indulge it, try harder. That guy on Reddit turned his hypothetical into a movie deal.

Also, I don't know the first thing about the JPFO but it is apparently now okay to use the edit function for substantive edits.
posted by cribcage at 11:44 AM on May 6 [5 favorites]


Well, yes, but so do they. The idea that the U.S. military is impossible to resist against with small arms and easily obtainable explosives is pretty easy to refute in the 21st Century.

There are very, very few examples of successful armed resistance to authority in the 21st century United States. A few hold outs last a few days, but with their lack of organization and funding, they do not last. These are not grizzled veterans of long guerrila conflicts against oppressive regimes with limitless Saudi oil cash flowing in and western education we're talking about here like Al Qaeda or something.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:45 AM on May 6


Now if only smart control chip implantation would be mandatory in the brains of all potential pistol owners we'd really be on to something big.
posted by item at 11:46 AM on May 6


I think that the average gun owner's / gun rights activist's position is much closer to mine than it is to that of the internet trolls and assorted crazies that some of you are digging up and trying to present as representative.

Litmus test: What does "well regulated militia" mean?
posted by mondo dentro at 11:47 AM on May 6 [7 favorites]


If you're going to kill somebody, shoot the politicians who make these fucking laws.

What I find completely batshit crazypants insane is the completely unexamined assumption that it's totally normal for gun enthusiasts to be threating someone with death; they just need to make sure they pick the right socially acceptable target.
posted by jonp72 at 11:48 AM on May 6 [27 favorites]


The difference between an alive abused woman and a murdered woman is access to a gun. Even her own gun. Smart guns could change that.

In fairness, I don't think the smart gun would help here. If we're talking about a domestic abuse scenario, the guy is only going to need to grab the ring/watch to use the gun, and he's probably not going to have a hard time finding them.

I suspect the main value of smart guns is preventing children from misusing their parents' firearms. Most other scenarios where it could be of value seem pretty limited. I do think that this is a valuable function, though.

I am not a gun-rights advocate, nor do I agree with their harassment of this gun dealer, but I can see why the New Jersey law would get them all riled up. To be honest, I think that these devices would limit the value of the gun for self-defense, and I'd be a little wary of trusting the lock to work properly if it hasn't been tested recently. That's also true for the weapon itself, but I tend to trust mechanical devices more than electronic ones for long term reliability.

I don't own a gun, and I'm all for restricting access to firearms in the US. I'm not sure if this is the most effective route. Technological solutions for social problems have a mixed track record IMO.
posted by Edgewise at 11:53 AM on May 6 [5 favorites]


My question is, if we get rid of that one law, an offer that's now on the table, shouldn't that the gun lobby to reconsider?

Perhaps, but they would need to weigh the potential benefits of reconsidering their opposition vs. the chances that a similar law would be introduced again in the future, i.e. would the mere existence of "smart guns" on the market be a temptation to legislators to make such systems mandatory?

I think their argument would be that the NJ law represents hand-tipping by the anti-gun lobby, i.e. it's not the law per se but the law shows that there is an intent to make such systems mandatory as soon as they exist, and the nullification of the law wouldn't prevent it from being reintroduced later, ergo the systems should be opposed at every opportunity.

Of course, perhaps letting the systems come onto the market (where they seem unlikely to be successful except as a niche product) would allow the idea to be buried, especially if they're as unwieldy as detractors claim they would be. I also have a suspicion that if there's no movement towards making the systems mandatory in short order, the manufacturers will withdraw them from the market. This is just a suspicion based on their website, but it seems like they are basing their business plan on their proprietary technology / IP (which implies licensing possibilities if it became mandatory), and they aren't really prepared to be a firearms company in the traditional sense. So the best way to eliminate it might be to let it go on sale, oppose any laws to make it mandatory, and let the invisible hand do the rest.

But speaking generally, the reason the pro-gun lobby is so hard-line and absolutist is that they view gun control as a sort of irreversible ratchet mechanism; that ground, once ceded, can never be retaken and will forever be lost. So therefore you must "fight on the beaches" etc., no matter how trivial the issue. Personally I think this is needlessly pessimistic and in recent years hasn't been entirely the case. (There was the sunset of the 1994 AWB, there have been dramatic expansions in CCW laws, etc.) But there is a very weird siege mentality at work that does not lend itself to compromise of any sort.

I don't think that uncompromising / 'siege mentality' is necessarily unique to the gun rights lobby; it's also the case among reproductive-rights people (a group that I count myself a part of, not that it really matters). You're unlikely to see a lot of "compromise" between NARAL and NRLC, even on what appears to someone on the other side of the argument like an innocuous or minor issue (for instance, ADA compliance complaints at clinics, which pro-lifers like to trot out as a minor thing). There is not much to be gained by compromising, and every inch of ground you give up is just that much more maneuvering room for the enemy, given that their ultimate goal is mutually incompatible with yours. I'm sure there are other similar political situations where there just isn't much common ground.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:53 AM on May 6 [8 favorites]


I remember reading an article in WIRED maybe fifteen years ago, about an idea to provide cities with wireless connectivity by flying unmanned drones overhead for up to six months without maintenance or landing. Of course I am totally unqualified to speak to any of the technical aspects, but I think being a human being with common sense qualifies me to say that's a stupid idea

Of course it's stupid. Balloons is where the smart money is.
posted by TedW at 11:53 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


Harvey Jerkwater wrote...
Here's what I never understood about the "we need guns to stave off government oppression" argument. Anyone who can rebut this is honestly welcome to do so.

The idea is that someday, if necessary, an armed citizenry would stand up to an oppressive American government. Okay. That sounds ridiculous to me, but let's walk it through. Let's say it happens. The worst case arrives.


I'd invite you to consider the case of civil war. Libya 2011 provides a nice study of the role of armed civilians.

If the possibility of another U.S. civil war seems remote to you... Well I have to say I don't see one on the horizon either. I would stop well full of calling it ridiculous though.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:53 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


Libya 2011 provides a nice study of the role of armed civilians.

Are you really comparing the US combined services to the Libyan army?
posted by GuyZero at 11:54 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


and makes them impossible to service at home.

As a computer and electronics technician, lol.

I have no idea how to service or repair a gun, many gun owners wouldn't know how to work on the electronics of this.

But, they'll figure it out if it matters to them, as i would if for some reason i needed to learn how to clean, service, and repair a firearm.

This is very similar to the "computers in cars are bad because they make it hard or impossible for people to work on cars".

Very quickly there were dirt cheap(like sub $100, and now sub $40 or even $20 that plug into a laptop) scanning units and home computer interfaces to work with those computers.

Considering the number of gun enthusiasts out there, even if this was a "closed system" like say VWs VAGCOM computer systems, do you really believe this wouldn't be solved within months at most?

Even if it required specialized equipment at first that was hard to acquire or expensive, do you really believe that major gun clubs/organizations wouldn't purchase that equipment and make it available to their members and the community? With every sort of proprietary or obfuscated system like that i can think of, you can go to the local community website and there will be scads of members who say "I own XYZ tool/equipment, you can come over to my place and use it on your $THINGY any time".

There's also a weird point to made here that opposing this is short sighted. As with say, pre full-auto ban AKs/ARs(i think on the AR part?), if non-smart guns are banned or heavily restricted, pre-ban non electronic guns will rocket up in value. I find it extremely hard to believe that everyone opposing this isn't also stocking up on scads of glocks and other easy to resell handguns just in case such a ban occurs. Because that shit will be like buying bitcoin when it was under a dollar.
posted by emptythought at 11:55 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


I think that the average gun owner's / gun rights activist's position is much closer to mine than it is to that of the internet trolls and assorted crazies that some of you are digging up and trying to present as representative.

I would say you're partially correct here. Most gun owners aren't the crazies, however the "digging" is more of a scooping out of a very large sample of kooks. And as an admitted gun nut, you have got to know plenty of folks you've met at the gun show or range or gun store that you've thought is possibly a little worrisome, I know I have certainly met my fair share.

Admittedly I also have to spend a lot of time in apologetics for my rabidly anti-gun friends and neighbors when I am in said environments because people think that they are totally nuts too.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:55 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]


Well, yes, but so do they. The idea that the U.S. military is impossible to resist against with small arms and easily obtainable explosives is pretty easy to refute in the 21st Century.

There are very, very few examples of successful armed resistance to authority in the 21st century United States. A few hold outs last a few days, but with their lack of organization and funding, they do not last. These are not grizzled veterans of long guerrila conflicts against oppressive regimes with limitless Saudi oil cash flowing in and western education we're talking about here like Al Qaeda or something.


I'm not saying that either of those things will happen, but I also don't believe they definitely will never happen.
posted by Etrigan at 11:57 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


> Another large case-control study compared women who were murdered by their intimate partner with a control group of battered women. Only 16 percent of the women who had been abused, but not murdered, had guns in their homes, whereas 51 percent of the murder victims did.

Statistics that include the phrase "had guns in their homes" never ever seem to report (or even have data on) whether the gun in the home was the one used in the murder. That has never prevented them from implying that in this particular murder, it's the victims gun, not one of the other 300 million guns in the US, that was used by the killer. There's a selection bias going on here-- people who are afraid of armed people tend to arm themselves; that doesn't mean that their own gun was turned against them.

What about women who successfully defended themselves from their abuser by using a gun? Groups that study victims don't always study people who stop being victims.
posted by Sunburnt at 11:57 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]


If the possibility of another U.S. civil war seems remote to you...

... then it will begin (just as the last one) between bands of military personnel who divide between the rebellion and the union.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:58 AM on May 6 [5 favorites]


The big manufacturers regularly try to anticipate market demand or interest and fall flat, only to be surprised by what actually sells.

So, serious question here (pretty much all my Google searches for smart gun stuff are turning up tech that's clearly intended for military applications), is there any evidence or rumors that the big manufacturers are putting money into R&D for smart gun tech? Or is it more a case where small indie companies are blazing the trail and the big boys will either buy the smaller companies and/or license the tech if or when smart guns become popular/necessary?
posted by soundguy99 at 11:58 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


That's also true for the weapon itself, but I tend to trust mechanical devices more than electronic ones for long term reliability.

Everything is mechanical on some level though. This system relies on something like an electromagnetically actuated pin restricting trigger movement, i'd assume.

I trust systems that can tell me when they're not working optimally more than systems you have to take apart to verify they're working correctly. I drive a 60s car for the hell of it, and it has several problems i've been trying to pin down for months or even over a year where i've followed the factory service manual(which is thicker than a phonebook, and full of wonderful illustrations) tearing apart components to try and resolve the issue. Whereas on my parents car, i can just plug in a scanner and determine exactly what part isn't performing correctly or what is out of adjustment. What's to say the control unit in the gun couldn't have intelligence and sensors to monitor itself, and the watch component couldn't have a display or even just a little light to notify you "system needs to be lubricated?", a sort of check engine light?

There's no reason this system couldn't also tell you to follow the maintenance schedule to keep it working properly, and also warn you if any part of it wasn't functioning correctly.

I also think a big stipulation of this should be that the owner should be able to choose whether, if the system detects it has failed, should it fail in able to fire or locked down mode. I think that would assuage a lot of fears about the implications of such a system.
posted by emptythought at 12:01 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


is there any evidence or rumors that the big manufacturers are putting money into R&D for smart gun tech? Or is it more a case where small indie companies are blazing the trail and the big boys will either buy the smaller companies and/or license the tech if or when smart guns become popular/necessary?

If these laws do go through, then no manufacturer wants to be the last one to be able to continue selling guns in one of the states that pass them.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:02 PM on May 6


soundguy99: is there any evidence or rumors that the big manufacturers are putting money into R&D for smart gun tech? Or is it more a case where small indie companies are blazing the trail and the big boys will either buy the smaller companies and/or license the tech if or when smart guns become popular/necessary?

It's the latter. Smith and Wesson was savaged for doing research into making safer guns, with the executive who took the lead on smart gun technology being pushed out for the heresy of trying to make a safer product. Since then, I'd doubt any of the major players is invested in this technology, and if they are, they're sure as hell going to keep quiet about it.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:02 PM on May 6 [4 favorites]


Statistics that include the phrase "had guns in their homes" never ever seem to report (or even have data on) whether the gun in the home was the one used in the murder.

Maybe that's because the pro-gun crowd never bothers to click on the links or read the articles or know how to interpret data. FTFA:

"Nearly a third of these women had lived in a household with a firearm. In two-thirds of the homes, their intimate partners had used the gun against them, usually threatening to kill (71.4 percent) them. A very small percentage of these women (7 percent) had used a gun successfully in self-defense, and primarily just to scare the attacking male partner away. Indeed, gun threats in the home against women by their intimate partners appear to be more common across the United States than self-defense uses of guns by women."

Jesus christ.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:03 PM on May 6 [44 favorites]


If the possibility of another U.S. civil war seems remote to you... Well I have to say I don't see one on the horizon either. I would stop well full of calling it ridiculous though.

Thing is, this time around, those foaming at the mouth for armed revolution are doing so based, largely, on figments of their own imaginations.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:03 PM on May 6


I think the big companies ARE looking into smart guns--especially aimed at police (no one wants to be shot with his/her own weapon). I know some companies are also looking to mount cameras on the guns.
After this outcry, they're probably doubling down on the secrecy of this R&D, but it's happening.
posted by whatgorilla at 12:03 PM on May 6


The brown-shirts who are opposing smart guns with threats of violence are doing so for purely ideological and tribal reasons. It has nothing to do with anything practical about embedded computers or some such excuse. If that were the case they wouldn't be drooling to get their hands on 50 cal sniper rifles with computer controlled long-range targeting systems.
posted by mondo dentro at 12:03 PM on May 6 [9 favorites]


If the possibility of another U.S. civil war seems remote to you...

...then consider the case of Cliven Bundy?

This is very similar to the "computers in cars are bad because they make it hard or impossible for people to work on cars".

And indeed, the number of people who "work on" their cars has rocketed downward. This is a frequent topic of conversation at cruise nights. If you don't think computerization of automobiles has affected car culture and worked to the massive benefit of automobile manufacturers, then we disagree strongly. Likewise, if you think computerizing firearms will prompt any significant number of gun owners to learn electrical engineering...? That prediction does not accord with my experience of gun owners as a general group.
posted by cribcage at 12:04 PM on May 6 [6 favorites]


I'd invite you to consider the case of civil war. Libya 2011 provides a nice study of the role of armed civilians.

If the possibility of another U.S. civil war seems remote to you... Well I have to say I don't see one on the horizon either. I would stop well full of calling it ridiculous though.


This doesn't refute the point that those who believe we need to arm ourselves to protect ourselves from the government, should also logically be against the US having such a large powerful military.
posted by inertia at 12:06 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


This doesn't refute the point that those who believe we need to arm ourselves to protect ourselves from the government, should also logically be against the US having such a large powerful military.

FWIW, I am totally in favor of drastically reducing the size of the US military. Not sure where you're getting the idea that most of us aren't?
posted by Jacqueline at 12:12 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


This doesn't refute the point that those who believe we need to arm ourselves to protect ourselves from the government, should also logically be against the US having such a large powerful military.

Many of them also believe that we need to protect America from other countries, and that large swaths of the U.S. military would be joining them against, for instance, U.N. jackbooted thugs.
posted by Etrigan at 12:14 PM on May 6 [3 favorites]


Smart guns - particularly if other states followed New Jersey's lead - would mean that the lifetime of a gun would be much, much shorter.

I think this is a truthy assumption that feels right but is actually kind of weak. The kind of electronics involved in these systems need not shorten a gun's life. People tend to think about how their toaster or phone only lasted a few years, but don't consider that they bought cheap shit and my parents have been using their toasters for 50 years. The pocket calculators kicking around home when I was a child still work like new. All my old candybar cellphones still work like new... if I cared to use them. I buy electronic metering devices on ebay so old they need battery types that don't exist any more (over 60 years old), and I buy with the expectation - which has always turned out correct - that using a modern equivalent to the archaic batteries is all it needs to function.
Microwave ovens sometimes wear out, but it's pretty much never the microcontroller or circuitry, it'll be the magnetron or something glass or plastic.

We all have a lot of consumer experience that electronics don't last, but I think this experience is not as applicable as might be assumed.
posted by anonymisc at 12:14 PM on May 6 [6 favorites]


philip-random: "The nice people then massacre them all with good old-fashioned analogue weaponry.

The audience cheers.
"

I picture it like this.
posted by symbioid at 12:21 PM on May 6


Kadin2048, when you talk about compromise between the sides, you have to factor in the ground shifting beneath the debate. Look at the state of gun control from the 1980s to today and tell me that there's anything substantive the gun control side could give up that the pro-gun side couldn't just get on its own by simply waiting things out. It's not that no compromise is acceptable to both sides, it's that one side has been able to say "my offer is this: nothing" and get what they want without giving anything up. The same is not true in the other direction.

And on the abortion comparison: cut that shit out. Compromises are being made all over the nation on abortion rights, to the point that Planned Parenthood and NARAL are barely holding ground on contraception in many states. The idea that they're just not compromising enough is preposterous.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:21 PM on May 6 [3 favorites]


What about women who successfully defended themselves from their abuser by using a gun? Groups that study victims don't always study people who stop being victims.

Well, first of all, there has been a concerted effort on the part of the gun lobby to actually let abusers maintain access to their weapons. They have also included women's groups that oppose domestic violence on an "enemies list," so I don't have the sense that domestic abuse survivors are high on their priorities unless they can dredge up horror-story outliers. Also, studies into gun violence have been limited, also due to efforts from the gun lobby, so it's possible that they just haven't been able to measure it. What studies that have been allowed, the data shows no significant deterrence in crimes based on gun ownership or ability to carry.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:22 PM on May 6 [27 favorites]


Here's what I never understood about the "we need guns to stave off government oppression" argument. Anyone who can rebut this is honestly welcome to do so...Therefore, those in favor of arming the citizenry to protect themselves against the possibility of government crackdowns would be against a large, powerful army, since that would be the primary means of oppression.

I don't think it's fundamentally inconsistent for fans of armed insurrection to also support a robust military. I think they're argument is that the guns are needed if the country ever goes really "bad," but until then, we need a strong military.

The problem is that they have way too much faith in the ability of a bunch of gun enthusiasts to hold off the US army. Waaaaaay too much faith. I think these folks weren't paying careful attention when we learned that there was a proliferation of AK47s among the Iraqi civilian population. In that case, the US army was occupying a country on the other side of the Earth, with the supply lines that this entails, and a lack of familiarity with the local culture and language (among most actual soldiers, that is). What the Iraqis learned is that, as nasty as an AK can be, it doesn't do much against tanks, bombers and gunships, and soldiers can always call those to the scene. Plus, with drones and satellite imagery, good luck getting close enough to pull the trigger. It happens, but not often enough to make any difference.

Just imagine how American insurgents would cope with the same troops in their own backyard. You're only going to piss them off with anything less than a rocket launcher, and all that will do is REALLY piss them off. What you really need is your own gunship.

When you think about this, you can really see how big a chunk of the case for gun rights exists in fantasy land. My favorite are the absolutists i.e. "What part of 'shall not be infringed' do you not understand?" Well, the 2nd amendment doesn't just guarantee access to GUNS, it allows citizens to own ARMS. Maybe having my own gunship isn't such a fantasy, after all? Try running that argument past the constitutionalists...ask them if "arms" includes "nuclear arms." Watch their absolutism fade, wait for the hair-splitting and close parsing, and laugh your bitter laugh at the shallow thinking that drives this debate.
posted by Edgewise at 12:25 PM on May 6 [5 favorites]


I see they're repeating the pernicious gun lobby talking point that if only we Jews had been well-armed, we would have been able to fight off the Nazis. I debunked that victim-blaming misconception...


Nonsense.

The latter bit, that is.

Defenders of the Second Amendment do often overestimate how effective private guns are at stopping aggression, and it is implausible to think that armed civilians had a very good chance of impeding the Nazi war machine. But it is utterly absurd to suggest that there is any victim-blaming inherent in the relevant suggestion.

Being armed typically increases your odds of resisting violence directed against you (contrary to a fair bit of anti-Second-Amendment propaganda.) To wish that someone had had the capacity to resist violence is not to blame the victim for not having resisted it.

(Perhaps you are thinking of some particular bits of alleged victim-blaming, which may very well exist for all I know.But that, of course, would be a different matter. But the "misconception" (if such it is) is not itself inherently a victim-blaming misconception.)
posted by Fists O'Fury at 12:25 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


> Smith and Wesson was savaged for doing research into making safer guns

You say safer guns, I say guns that're less likely to work when you need them to save your life.

If it was the case that accidental discharges, or people's own guns being turned against them, were killing more people than deliberate discharges, then "safer guns" would be a higher priority. As it is, it's hard enough to save your own life with a gun; a lot of things have to go right for you when your attacker gets to choose the time and place. Signature guns make it harder. Want to save more kids lives? Ban swimming pools.
posted by Sunburnt at 12:27 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


Ban swimming pools.

Next time a swimming pool kills 26 people in my hometown, I'll get on that bandwagon.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:30 PM on May 6 [23 favorites]


Sunburnt: You say safer guns, I say guns that're less likely to work when you need them to save your life.

Given the statistics, a gun that malfunctions randomly is more likely to save your life or that of someone you care about, than it is to get you killed.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:32 PM on May 6 [17 favorites]


People tend to think about how their toaster or phone only lasted a few years, but don't consider that they bought cheap shit and my parents have been using their toasters for 50 years. The pocket calculators kicking around home when I was a child still work like new. All my old candybar cellphones still work like new... if I cared to use them. I buy electronic metering devices on ebay so old they need battery types that don't exist any more (over 60 years old), and I buy with the expectation - which has always turned out correct - that using a modern equivalent to the archaic batteries is all it needs to function.

You might want to jump into the other post that's on the front page right now about the Maytag repair man. It does a pretty great job of going over people's, very valid in my opinion, concerns regarding modern electronics being inserted into devices that don't necessarily need them to perform a primary function*****.

I only point you in that direction because all of the devices you tout as amazing and 'still working, look, see!" are from what folks, in that thread especially, would call a bit of a bygone age of when electronics were built with more focus on longevity than they are now.

I'm not saying the electronic components in question here couldn't be made as robust as they needed to be to not be the weakest link in the failure/life-cycle calculations for the firearm itself but to go all handwavey and say 'look at the desk calculator I have from 1960' is quite reductionist and doesn't really work as a fair comparison to what people are voicing as a concern with the concept at hand.

***** I'm not even necessarily against the whole smart gun thing, please don't snip out that line and say "Oh lordy, look at the luddite/gun nut", it's just a valid angle to consider.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:32 PM on May 6 [3 favorites]


If it was the case that accidental discharges, or people's own guns being turned against them, were killing more people than deliberate discharges, then "safer guns" would be a higher priority

It is, indeed, the case that "people's own guns being turned against them" kill more people in the US than all other gun deaths combined. Suicides by gun alone outnumber gun murders--throw in the number of people killed by others with their own guns and the disparity is enormous. Guns that randomly failed to discharge would unquestionably save more lives than they would cost.
posted by yoink at 12:34 PM on May 6 [9 favorites]


You say safer guns, I say guns that're less likely to work when you need them to save your life. [...] As it is, it's hard enough to save your own life with a gun

So what was your point again? Why do you even own a handgun?

Next time a swimming pool kills 26 people in my hometown, I'll get on that bandwagon.

To be fair, a "safer" gun wouldn't stop this, since presumably the aggressor would have both the keyfob and the gun.
posted by smidgen at 12:34 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


Guns and laws are funny things. Ruger is threatening to pulling out of the California market entirely due to a law mandating microstamping of the gun's serial number on all shell casings when the gun is fired.

The price of people's paranoia is that 160 children have been shot so far this year. But as long as it makes for a "humorous" photo then I guess it's the price we all have to pay. Every. Goddamn. Day.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 12:35 PM on May 6 [5 favorites]


Suicides by gun alone outnumber gun murders

If anyone is wondered why I'm so aggressive about this -- this is why.
posted by smidgen at 12:35 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


> Defenders of the Second Amendment do often overestimate how effective private guns are at stopping aggression, and it is implausible to think that armed civilians had a very good chance of impeding the Nazi war machine.

Armed civilians sure made it a long march to Stalingrad.

As for how effective private guns are at stopping aggression, there are unfortunately no statistics to speak of-- estimates range from 300,000 to 1.2 million annual defensive gun uses, but if nobody shoots, then there's no police report, and no statistic is gathered. Those estimates are extrapolated from very small pools of survey data.

In fact, nobody's overestimating and nobody's underestimating. We don't know, and we're not likely to find out anytime in the future, and everyone's guessing.

> Next time a swimming pool kills 26 people in my hometown, I'll get on that bandwagon.

If they have pools in your town, it has already happened, one and two at a time. Apparently it'll take a deadly pool party to get people to take child drowning deaths seriously.
posted by Sunburnt at 12:36 PM on May 6 [6 favorites]


If the possibility of another U.S. civil war seems remote to you...

...then consider the case of Cliven Bundy?


I'm not sure I'm getting the reference, to be honest. Like, looking at the case of Ruby Ridge, where a group of Americans holed up with their guns during a dispute with federal authorities, you can see how this kind of situation develops. The ATL was repulsed. They alerted the US Marshalls, who tried to make an arrest. When a Marshall was killed, it escalated - the FBI came in, threw up a cordon and attempted to negotiate a surrender. It was only then that the rules of engagement countenanced taking shots on targets without warning them and demanding compliance.

The Ruby Ridge siege lasted as long as it did because the Federal agents did not do what they would have if they had been the Army and the Weavers had been military targets - called in an airstrike and wiped them out from a safe distance, or shelled their buildings.

What is protecting Cliven Bundy is not guns - it's the unwillingness for various reasons of the state to kill him and his allies from a safe distance, most obviously because they are American citizens, and they have not yet actually fired on or killed any Bureau of Land Management employees. In part, it's because of the failings in procedure at Ruby Ridge and Waco. This is precisely not a civil war, because the resistance depends on nobody actually firing a shot, right?
posted by running order squabble fest at 12:37 PM on May 6 [12 favorites]


Man, can't they do better with the wristwatch? It looks like a damn fish finder.
posted by SharkParty at 12:39 PM on May 6


If they have pools in your town, it has already happened, one and two at a time.

Which is why there's hardly a municipality in the US that doesn't have strict laws about fencing pools and restricting unsupervised access to pools for children. Of course, restricting children's access to guns is TYRANNY!!!!!
posted by yoink at 12:40 PM on May 6 [27 favorites]


As for how effective private guns are at stopping aggression, there are unfortunately no statistics to speak of-

I already engaged with this made up bullshit upthread. There are statistics, a lot of them. What do you think, people don't study these things?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:40 PM on May 6 [3 favorites]


Sunburnt: "As for how effective private guns are at stopping aggression, there are unfortunately no statistics to speak of-- estimates range from 300,000 to 1.2 million annual defensive gun uses, but if nobody shoots, then there's no police report, and no statistic is gathered. Those estimates are extrapolated from very small pools of survey data.
In fact, nobody's overestimating and nobody's underestimating. We don't know, and we're not likely to find out anytime in the future, and everyone's guessing.
"

Guess who's the reason for there not being a whole lot of data or research...
The NRA
posted by Hairy Lobster at 12:41 PM on May 6 [9 favorites]


There's an analogous situation with the SawStop technology for circular saws, which uses an electric current to detect when a saw blade comes in contact with flesh. When the mechanism is tripped, it applies a brake to the blade and can prevent digits from being severed.

The problem is that it adds a significant cost to the price of a table saw and there's a large replacement cost whenever the brake is activated. Saw manufacturers and contractors are fighting tooth and nail to keep it from being made mandatory as a result.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 12:43 PM on May 6 [3 favorites]


studies into gun violence have been limited

This is by design. Federally funded research into gun violence has been legally hobbled since 1996, thanks to Congressional action in the wake of a 1993 study disliked by the gun lobby. According to the NY Times, the CDC even “ask[s] researchers it finances to give it a heads-up anytime they are publishing studies that have anything to do with firearms. The agency, in turn, relays this information to the NRA as a courtesy.”
posted by compartment at 12:44 PM on May 6 [12 favorites]


This doesn't refute the point that those who believe we need to arm ourselves to protect ourselves from the government, should also logically be against the US having such a large powerful military.

Many of them also believe that we need to protect America from other countries, and that large swaths of the U.S. military would be joining them against, for instance, U.N. jackbooted thugs.


See Also: Oath Keepers
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:44 PM on May 6


The gun lobby has expressed concerns about the reliability and higher cost of these weapons,

Are you fucking kidding me? When has cost ever been a factor for the gun lobby? Hell, the more expensive, the better made it usually is (or is viewed as) and reliability? Again, what bullshit is this?

I'm a gun guy, I like guns, I own many, but I absolutely hate the NRA and the gun lobby in general because of shit like this. This looks to be a neat product that could potentially save a lot of lives... well, for a .22 anyway. But baby steps.

But a better way to express my fully pegged horseshit meter is to comment on an high end firearms show in which the NRA had a heavy presence. One of the more interesting items was an original broom handled Mauser if memory serves, it was going for $3000 and was known to have reliability issues (mainly because it's a 115 years old). NRA had no problems with it.

Or maybe something a little easier for the average person to see in action. Walk into any gun store and take a look at their black powder section: not technically firearms (felons people under 21 can buy them), but still guns ans still wholly supported by the NRA. Wanna know something else about black powder guns? Dangerous as hell if you don't treat them exactly right.

But no complaints about reliability there.

Fucking hypocrites.
posted by quin at 12:48 PM on May 6 [17 favorites]


I don't care about requiring access controls on guns because the weapons I need already come with those built-in. I'm in favor of the second amendment because with enough nuclear bombs even a schmoe like me can be emperor of the world.
posted by bigbigdog at 12:49 PM on May 6


Getting back to the subject of "smart guns," there are already a number of analog safety features we require. For example, we ask that guns be holstered and that those holsters can be secured. Also, there are safety switches on many firearms.

Does it not make sense that, as technology improves, we look to improve the safety features on guns in the same way that we have improved safety features on almost everything else in our society?

Whether we're pro- or anti- gun, one would think making a gun that was less likely to accidentally be used by a child or fire on an unintended target is something we could all agree on - including the gun industry since it could be a total marketing and PR coup for them (I'm assuming that "keeping children alive" isn't a significant reason for the gun industry to make a positive decision but marketing is).
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:50 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


I'm not saying the electronic components in question here couldn't be made as robust as they needed to be to not be the weakest link in the failure/life-cycle calculations for the firearm itself but to go all handwavey and say 'look at the desk calculator I have from 1960' is quite reductionist and doesn't really work as a fair comparison to what people are voicing as a concern with the concept at hand.

I would imagine, or at least hope against hope that these would be constructed in a "electronics and firmware must not fail ever" sort of way like say, avionics stuff or car ECUs which control like, the airbags, seatbelt tensioners, and the brakes on a lot of cars now.

And indeed, the number of people who "work on" their cars has rocketed downward. This is a frequent topic of conversation at cruise nights. If you don't think computerization of automobiles has affected car culture and worked to the massive benefit of automobile manufacturers, then we disagree strongly. Likewise, if you think computerizing firearms will prompt any significant number of gun owners to learn electrical engineering...? That prediction does not accord with my experience of gun owners as a general group.

This is just utterly not true. A bunch of old fogies who drive vintage cars whining about how it was better in the good old days is not an accurate reflection of reality.(And i say this as someone who owns a vintage car, and works on it)

Go on any brand specific forum/enthusiast club/group site for a modern car model or brand like say, NASIOC and look at how many people are reflashing, modding, or replacing the computers in their cars to support modifications and how much knowledge is out there about repairing even stock/unmodified cars while interacting with those systems. The gist of my post was basically "just because you couldn't do it doesn't mean that a lot of people wont, and that there wont be a supportive community if you want to seek it out".

I haven't seen any good statistical analysis of how many people work on their own cars, but there's always been repair shops and i doubt it's ever been a huge, super common thing except maybe in the very early years before what we're even talking about.

Plenty of people still work on their own cars though. And i haven't found it all that much harder to work on newer cars. There's more plastic, and you need different tools... but it's just different, not necessarily worse.

Well, first of all, there has been a concerted effort on the part of the gun lobby to actually let abusers maintain access to their weapons.

This legitimately makes me ill. like, i feel like i'm going to vomit every time someone brings this up again and i'm reminded it's a thing that exists. Ugh. Does it really surprise anyone that the same, or at least a related group of people is threatening to attack/destroy a business?
posted by emptythought at 12:51 PM on May 6 [3 favorites]


Whether we're pro- or anti- gun, one would think making a gun that was less likely to accidentally be used by a child or fire on an unintended target is something we could all agree on

You'd think that, but the NRA is a lobbying group whose main purpose is to make more money for the industries it represents. A bunch of dead kids are the price the rest of us have to pay for that.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:52 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


Ban swimming pools.

Okay, lets at this a bit more. Swimming pools are the cause of many deaths of children (one at a time, yes)... So, do we do nothing? Or do we mandate safety gates on pools and conduct public awareness campaigns?

Note that this government overreach into people's back yards isn't happening in Communist California, no, it's happening in Libertarian Arizona.

So, tragic deaths befall children, then sensible government regulation takes hold. No revolution needed.

What didn't happen - swimming pool gate makers didn't receive death threats (nor their retailers).
posted by el io at 12:52 PM on May 6 [21 favorites]


Fists O'Fury: "But it is utterly absurd to suggest that there is any victim-blaming inherent in the relevant suggestion. "

The idea that "if only Jews had fought back and the Holocaust wouldn't have happened" is victim-blaming, when history shows us quite clearly that they did fight back and it made no difference. When it is apparent that the addition of a few guns would have also made no difference. We were slaughtered. Saying otherwise ignores the greater historical context.

"The Jews did not fight back" also bothers me because it's a talking point used by Holocaust deniers who wish to show that either the Holocaust didn't happen or didn't happen at the scale it actually did. Holocaust deniers also tend to dismiss the impact of decades of German anti-Jewish laws and policies leading up to the genocide.

My grandfather served several tours in the Army Air Corps' VIII Bomber Group out of the Isle of Wight in WWII. He taught me to fire a handgun and a rifle as a child, because "if it ever happens again, you'll be able to defend yourself and your family." But what happened to Germany's Jews at the hands of the Nazis was a decades-long anti-semitic campaign that began even before the Nazis rose to power. It doesn't have a parallel in American history.
posted by zarq at 12:52 PM on May 6 [26 favorites]


When you think about this, you can really see how big a chunk of the case for gun rights exists in fantasy land.

It's all just words written by people. You hear the same criticism about restrictions on First Amendment speech, that barring someone from yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater or posting libel on a website is pure made-up fantasy. The Bill of Rights doesn't say anything about those things, yet we do them. I think originalism has some value, but it can't be the entire game. There has to be room for considering what the present-day interpretation of a given right is. This goes double when the Court has refused or neglected to address it for a couple decades.

Ruger is threatening to pulling out of the California market

Part of the reason manufacturers are looking to pull out of markets like California and Connecticut is disliking being shouldered with responsibility that can, and arguably should, be placed on gun owners. Legislators are trying to force technological solutions onto this social problem because it's easy and more politically palatable than the alternatives. To the manufacturers, this seems unfair. They pax taxes and donate to campaigns, and now they see politicians trying to make them scapegoats or targeting them because it's easiest. And if the neighboring state is offering to welcome them as an "employer" rather than some kind of danger that needs regulating....well.

Go on any brand specific forum/enthusiast club/group site for a modern car model

You're salting the sample. Of course you're going to find more electrical and computer facility among people who frequent Internet message boards. That's hardly representative. And if your experience of cruise nights is "old fogies," then again, our experiences differ. I think we'll have to disagree.
posted by cribcage at 12:55 PM on May 6


What didn't happen - swimming pool gate makers didn't receive death threats (nor their retailers).

Those bastards!

Also what didn't enter into the debate was a constitutional amendment that some read as providing the right to an unimpeded swimming pool.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:55 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


Suicides by gun alone outnumber gun murders

I don't understand how the availability of smart guns would impact this significantly - are suicides mostly committed with someone else's gun?
posted by desjardins at 12:55 PM on May 6 [5 favorites]


Wearing that watch would make one more likely to want to kill oneself.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:56 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


Oh, and I have a proposed new rule: Death threat on the internet = police visit to those doing the threatening.

And as a bonus, take away all the guns of people making death threats.

If we do this, one of two things will happen - crazy folks with guns who threaten people on the internet will no longer have guns, or the level of rhetoric on the net will become a bit less violent.
posted by el io at 12:57 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


But what happened to Germany's Jews at the hands of the Nazis was a decades-long anti-semitic campaign that began even before the Nazis rose to power. It doesn't have a parallel in American history.

Yeah, there certainly aren't any minority groups that were oppressed, disenfranchised, enslaved, and/or murdered for decades in the good ole USA. None at all!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:58 PM on May 6 [4 favorites]


The 10th Regiment of Foot: " Yeah, there certainly aren't any minority groups that were oppressed, disenfranchised, enslaved, or murdered for decades in the good ole USA. None at all!"

Which is why I used the word "anti-semitic." I am referring to the fact that there is no parallel American campaign of anti-Jewish laws, policies and discrimination.
posted by zarq at 1:00 PM on May 6


Except for the ones against Jews.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:01 PM on May 6


When were Jews in the US murdered en masse?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:03 PM on May 6


, there are unfortunately no statistics to speak of--

Please stop saying things that are untrue.

We don't know, and we're not likely to find out anytime in the future, and everyone's guessing.

Oh god, save us from the "I don't know" libertarian pablum. Find out before speaking -- "I don't know" is a perfectly fine response to a question -- it is *not* a good way to lead an argument. Just don't say anything if you don't actually know. Honestly, this is leading to climate change skeptic territory...
posted by smidgen at 1:03 PM on May 6 [7 favorites]


Except, not. Nothing that has happened here in the US approaches the scale of the systematic campaign which was done in Germany. To deny all American Jews civil and property rights and freedoms. The constant vilification in all press, nationwide etc. And at the risk of stating the obvious, no one is rounding all of us up and sticking us in extermination camps.
posted by zarq at 1:04 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


Which is why there's hardly a municipality in the US that doesn't have strict laws about fencing pools and restricting unsupervised access to pools for children. Of course, restricting children's access to guns is TYRANNY!!!!!

This is a weird analogy that's just getting weirder. There are 28 states with laws that restrict children's access to guns. (From this pro-gun control site)
posted by desjardins at 1:04 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


When were Jews in the US murdered en masse?

They weren't. Were they subject to "a decades-long anti-semitic campaign"? Sure's shootin'.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:05 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


[Guys, maybe to mefimail if you really want to keep arguing about the history of anti-Semitism in the US and elsewhere.]
posted by cortex at 1:06 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


I don't understand how the availability of smart guns would impact this significantly - are suicides mostly committed with someone else's gun?

That wasn't the point I was making in that comment because that wasn't the issue at stake in that particular part of the conversation.

But, if you actually seriously want to raise that question--yes, many gun suicides are committed using, for example, a spouse's or parent's gun. Teenagers, in particular, tend to use their parent's guns to kill themselves. While a "smart gun" of the type described here wouldn't erase the possibility of such suicides, it would certainly prevent some number of them. Suicides tend to be impulsive acts and the impulse is usually not very durable or very persistent. Add in "having to get hold of Dad's gun watch" to "having to get hold of Dad's gun" and a lot of despondent kids would make it through the crisis that otherwise leads to their death. Far more, without question, than would have their lives saved by being able to grab that gun to fight off a home-invader (a scenario orders of magnitude less probable.)
posted by yoink at 1:07 PM on May 6 [7 favorites]


The problem is that it [the SawStop] adds a significant cost to the price of a table saw and there's a large replacement cost whenever the brake is activated. Saw manufacturers and contractors are fighting tooth and nail to keep it from being made mandatory as a result.

That's their prerogative. As far as I can tell from a few minutes' googling, they've been successful in preventing the enactment of any such regulation so far, and the SawStop was introduced nearly a decade ago. The gun lobby is a heck of a lot more powerful than the power tool lobby, so there's every reason to think the gun lobby could keep regulations requiring smart guns off the books and preventing the one on the books from actually being enforced.

If the incumbent table saw manufacturers and their customers had gone on a scorched-earth campaign of boycotts and death and arson threats against a retailer selling table saws equipped with SawStops, everyone would have recognized that their tactics were a wildly disproportionate response to the vague possibility of future regulation.
posted by burden at 1:08 PM on May 6 [4 favorites]


I've dealt with these people directly.

In 2002 I was working for Dell, Inc. when we went through the Weigand Combat Firearms fiasco. (TL;DR automated order management system canceled his order because of the word "combat", there was no human oversight to override it, his order was either neglected or fell through the cracks, it shouldn't have happened, Dell's fault.)

My job at the time was in customer service, so I took calls, emails, and chats from extremely angry gun owners threatening to kill me, firebomb my building, etc. This was non-stop for the entire first couple of days, and it slowed to a trickle within a week, but even months later I'd pick up the phone and it would be some nut ranting about how they're justified putting a bullet in my head because I'm personally trying to infringe upon their freedoms.

Look, I'm cool with guns. They're neat machines. I'm fine with you owning one. Shit, the highest court in the land even agrees with you that you can own them. But these people? Man, fuck these people.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 1:11 PM on May 6 [39 favorites]


I would imagine, or at least hope against hope that these would be constructed in a "electronics and firmware must not fail ever" sort of way like say, avionics stuff or car ECUs which control like, the airbags, seatbelt tensioners, and the brakes on a lot of cars now.

Hoping is great, I just have very little trust when it comes to almost any modern manufacturer making the right choice when it comes to quality over cost. See the recent GM ignition switch debacle, which was a known issue that would have cost a few pennies to fix and they chose not to, or my own modern hatchback that recently was the subject of a recall for, of all things, a defect in the seatbelt tensioners you specifically mention, I've been driving it for 5+ years but hey, better late than never right? So when you add another layer upon something (and I'm not even going into the necessary of said thing be it gunlocks or seatbelt tensioners) it's one thing to hope and another to actually end up with a product that is as bombproof on the engineering side as the use case warrants.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:14 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


just musing here...

a) I think these smart weapons are a terrific product - folks should be able to buy one without any onerous bullshit.

b) I've always liked the idea of serial numbers on bullets

c) Does 'the right to bear arms' imply 'the right to own arms'? I guess I'm thinking something like a non-transferable license associated to a single firearm - similar to some software package licensing. That might keep the criminal and accidental incidents down (over-simple, but i like thinking the possibilities over).
posted by j_curiouser at 1:16 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


This is a weird analogy that's just getting weirder. There are 28 states with laws that restrict children's access to guns. (From this pro-gun control site)

As that site outlines, there is precisely ONE state that mandates, by law, that guns be stored in such a way that children cannot access them (the others only provide ex-post-facto liability to people who negligently allow children to access their guns; this is equivalent not to mandating safety fencing for pools, but to saying that it's fine to leave your pool unfenced, you're just going to be in trouble if we find a dead kid in there).

Also, the NRA routinely fights against all Child Access Prevention laws. Here, for example, is an NRA press release about a requirement to keep guns in a locked gun box in Connecticut. So, yeah, the NRA does think that doing the equivalent to fencing pools is "tyranny" when it comes to guns.
posted by yoink at 1:19 PM on May 6 [7 favorites]


I don't understand how the availability of smart guns would impact this significantly

It probably wouldn't, but I'm way on the other side of this. I think anything that limits guns is good. "Safe" guns would probably take more guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them (thus preventing some) and make suicides slightly harder (thereby preventing some more).

But I'm an anti-gun nut. I think the 2nd amendment is an obvious mistake, and that guns are not toys, or hobbies, any more than serious explosives are. (No, I will not get into useless arguments about that time you were in the desert, or firecrackers vs 22mm pistols, thanks :-))
posted by smidgen at 1:21 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


Armed civilians sure made it a long march to Stalingrad.

Citizens armed by their government and pressed into service by roving packs of Soviets given orders to shoot anyone who was disloyal.

If you were a rural citizen, you could get killed by three different forces -- the Germans, Soviet Army regulars, and partisans. Not to mention the brutal weather and supply conditions.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:21 PM on May 6 [10 favorites]


Oh, and I have a proposed new rule: Death threat on the internet = police visit to those doing the threatening.

Sort of a precedent. Although that was someone advocating the killing of the entire House of Representives, right after the shooting of Gabbie Giffords, and he probably helped his case by dropping the Internet tough guy act and handing over all his firearms as soon as the police knocked on his door.

Worst. Minuteman. Ever.
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:22 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


Jacqueline: We now return you to your regularly scheduled program of ridiculing strawmen.

In very recent memory, such strawmen (assorted crazies with guns) have murdered children, soldiers on US-based soil, and theater-goers.

Your definition of "strawmen" is ridiculously at odds with everyone else's, and with actual facts. Which technically means you're part of the problem I'm ridiculing.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:23 PM on May 6 [8 favorites]


Add in "having to get hold of Dad's gun watch" to "having to get hold of Dad's gun" and a lot of despondent kids would make it through the crisis that otherwise leads to their death.

I think that's probably true, but you accomplish the same goal by requiring gun owners to keep their firearms locked. It has the same flaw: there will be gun owners who keep gun and bracelet side-by-side in the drawer, just as there are gun owners today who keep the key inside the lock. Its practical benefit is that you aren't introducing new levels of complexity and failure, and its political benefit is that now you are talking about bringing some states in line with others (where the sky hasn't fallen) rather than breaking entirely new ground.
posted by cribcage at 1:27 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


Bracelets? Seems like it would be easier to just key them off of your mark of the beast.
posted by ckape at 1:32 PM on May 6 [4 favorites]


RolandOfEld: ...or my own modern hatchback that recently was the subject of a recall for, of all things, a defect in the seatbelt tensioners you specifically mention, I've been driving it for 5+ years but hey, better late than never right? So when you add another layer upon something (and I'm not even going into the necessary of said thing be it gunlocks or seatbelt tensioners) it's one thing to hope and another to actually end up with a product that is as bombproof on the engineering side as the use case warrants.

There is no need for such a device to be "bombproof". It is only necessary for (the odds of being endangered by the device) to be much lower than (the odds of damage occurring were the device not present).

In every example you cite, that is the case. In a similar vein, we adopted fire long before perfect control of it was developed, because having it saved more lives than it cost. (See: large carnivores of Pleistocene epoch)

Expecting a fix to a problem to be 100% without any chance of harm is utter nonsense, and the realm of anti-vaccers, anti-fluoridation, and other logic-impaired, statistics-illiterate people.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:34 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


then it will begin (just as the last one) between bands of military personnel who divide between the rebellion and the union.

four words - "bleeding kansas" - "john brown"

as far as the idea of armed civilians taking on the u s military, one of the key strategies would be to suborn those troops willing to go to the other side - another key strategy would be to conduct sabotage and place roadside bombs where the military would be expected to pass - another key strategy would be not to target the government's troops, but those prominent or not so prominent figures who backed the government by words or deeds

and of course, random acts of outright terrorism

just in the last couple of days in my town, we had a guy a few blocks down the road who was carrying an assault rifle in a possible state of intoxication and telling the police who were trying to talk to him that he had the right to and that they were terrorists - he surrendered his rifle, refused both identification and a breathylizer test and was allowed to walk away

then we had a SWAT team no knock raid on an innocent family who had the misfortune of having rented a house where a suspect had previously stayed - no one was hurt or arrested and supposedly the chief of police is giving the traumatized kids stuffed animals

that's the atmosphere in which many other people are saying insane things such as "you sell smart guns, we'll kill you" and god only knows what else

there are a lot of crazy pissed off people out there and they're armed - god help us if they ever get motivated enough to get organized and get moving

shit's getting real
posted by pyramid termite at 1:35 PM on May 6


What you really need is your own gunship.

When we outlaw gunships, only criminals will have gunships.
posted by Foosnark at 1:38 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


Expecting a fix to a problem to be 100% without any chance of harm is utter nonsense, and the realm of anti-vaccers, anti-fluoridation, and other logic-impaired, statistics-illiterate people.

Right, which is a strawman I wasn't building. I was specifically responding to the comment stating that

We all have a lot of consumer experience that electronics don't last, but I think this experience is not as applicable as might be assumed.

not any requirement that said gunlocks be perfect to be worthwhile things to have. I even said as much but hey, tilt at that windmill if you like.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:40 PM on May 6


“They picture a world where their home is invaded only at the moment when they are armed and prepared for assault,”

Yeah. But that's pretty much what you want the gun for. Someone breaks in when you're not home, no big deal, they get your stuff and no one is hurt. On the other hand, they might get your gun too, so why not have something that disables the weapon and makes it useless to someone else.
Of course, I suspect stealing it and selling it would remain the same. An armorer could disable the "smart" elements. But at least, perhaps, it prevents them from using the gun on you if you come home in the middle of it.

In the country, it's pretty much exactly the scenario where you're home and someone comes to take your stuff and they're dangerous if not armed. You have acres around you where no neighbors can see what's happening. You have expensive stuff like generators, welding equipment, tools, tractors, etc. high-end machinery that gets pretty good resale, and not a real fast response time from law enforcement.
Pretty much you need something for in the house (preferably a shotgun) in case they decide to come inside. Happens to Democrats too.

“So...who would go after the armed citizens? The police at first. Then would come the National Guard. The United States Army….
Therefore, those in favor of arming the citizenry to protect themselves against the possibility of government crackdowns would be against a large, powerful army, since that would be the primary means of oppression.”


Taking the last part first – plenty of political drones who toe the party line and think whatever the talking heads tell them. The dissonance is obvious between the two concepts – particularly “small government” and “big army” or “police militarization” etc. So yeah, in a sense.
Otoh – most oppression stems from fractures and soft or blank spots in a country’s ability to protect people. F’rinstance you have places in other parts of the world where there aren’t any police or armed forces or where they’re outgunned by the local crime syndicate who become a sort of defacto police department.
Poaching in Africa is like this. You have game wardens and park rangers carrying RPGs and heavy mount machine guns and people distanced from the situation yelling overkill when in fact the poachers have assault rifles, RPGs, and are very mobile and economically strong enough to pretend they’re the “authority.”
Which leads us to the question of legitimacy. And often legitimate government is, and has been historically, debated with gun barrels.
And so, the first part – very often the people going after an armed uprising are opposing political forces with only elements of respective armed forces at their disposal. That is SOME police. SOME of the National Guard. SOME of the standing armed forces.
So you could have a situation where the national guard is facing off against federal troops backing different civilian sectors’ interests.
Sound far fetched in the U.S.? Troops from the 101st Airborne Division protected nine black kids on their way to school over a National Guard blockade (which lead to the unprecedented act of federalizing the national guard) in 1957.
More recently we had – starting with the Brooks Brothers riot after the 2000 election and the Miami riots (and the state troopers near polling sites delaying people by searching their cars) – the Florida state troopers clashing with Sheriffs over the manual recount. That could easily have gotten violent. And while Gore’s actions are debatable, he certainly did prevent future violence (of that kind at least).
Any revolt is going to have a large political component to it, armed or not. An armed revolt is a bit more effective, short term, at safeguarding people’s rights on a very localized level, unless the movement is big enough to field troops of its own.
The thing in Egypt for example is mostly sit-ins because they have the luxury (in strategic terms) of a pretty much unified army backing the coup side.
The Tuareg uprising in 2012, different story. Lots of guns, broader issues. Etc.

Because the U.S. military is pretty serious about civilian leadership the scenario for an armed popular uprising in the U.S. would have to be one where legitimacy is very unclear. Which would have been quite possible with the Gore V. Bush thing. Who do you follow if Gore decides to really fight the issue? The popular vote or the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court?
The Onion article at the time, wasn’t too far off the mark if things had gone seriously awry.

If Gore had been a lesser man, or if our law enforcement were more fanatic or less concerned with shooting people en masse, if the fight between the Florida Supreme Court and Secretary of State Harris had ended with her preempting recounts and just certifying Bush as the winner, if Ret. Gen. Schwarzkopfs vaguely insubordinate statements (paraphrasing - ‘you don’t want Al Gore as your Cmdr. In Chief, do you?’) had been more heeded, - just generally: had we been a less stable country, it may have gone that way.
It was certainly clear that the GOP side was prepared to go to some extreme lengths and implied they were willing to endure destabilization.
I don’t know if they were.

In terms of pure effectiveness, yeah, Simo Häyhä started as an irregular. But militias and guerilla fighters' job isn't to field ersatz troops to fight the army. It's to make occupation harder, force mistakes and overreactions - essentially, their job is to attack the legitimacy of the more powerful force's political base. Force atrocities, etc. And having arms does that excellently. E.g. Bloody Sunday. It's Mao 101.


“valid reasons to not want to own them, but not to prevent others from owning them.”

I think this is the thing. I think these things, generally speaking, are a great idea. The execution not so much. But I wouldn't like a law mandating you have to have a smart gun or no gun. The last thing I want in a cold wet and dirty or sandy environment is electronic instrumentation I can't fix simply in the field.

But I'm pretty ambivilent otherwise. I don't much care for a single point of failure on anything. Guns in particular. And thinking we can fix the problem by trying to force a technological fix on the user instead of the system is silly, if not a blatent grab for cash. Much like traffic speed cameras that hand out tickets.

I'm happy to have any bullet I fire accountable forensically. Hunters are. Self-defense shooters are. Criminals aren't.
I'd be happy to have an RFID chip in my firearms. I carry a cell phone. It's not like you can't pinpoint my location anyway. A criminal won't be.

I don't know what kind of milksop phones in anonymous death threats. Probably don't have the guts to be an actual criminal in the first place and they certainly wouldn't have the character to fight and sacrifice for a real cause if push came to shove.

And a lot of this is exactly that. The fantasy of the gun. So many pro-gun and pro-control people have no desire to deal with the reality. So we get this ego-driven morass of shit.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:41 PM on May 6 [8 favorites]


he probably helped his case by dropping the Internet tough guy act and handing over all his firearms as soon as the police knocked on his door.

Worst. Minuteman. Ever.


Really? I think that's the best sort.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:45 PM on May 6 [3 favorites]


cortex: "[Guys, maybe to mefimail if you really want to keep arguing about the history of anti-Semitism in the US and elsewhere.]"

Sorry about that, everyone. Didn't mean to derail the thread.
posted by zarq at 1:46 PM on May 6


cribcage: Indeed. Personally I'm tired of computers. My least favorite workplace was a brand-new courthouse where everything in the bathroom had been computerized: the toilets, the sink faucets, the paper towel dispenser, even the damned lights. And none of it worked correctly. The toilets flushed too often. The faucets wouldn't turn off. The paper towels wouldn't dispense. The damned lights kept going off.

cribcage, you're apparently too young to remember the days before computerized toilets, faucets, and damned lights.

Easily a quarter of the public toilets in the US contained filth from previous users, unflushed.

Faucet handles were invariably coated with rectal pathogens from previous handwashers.

And the damned lights were burned out in many public toilets, because they were on every damned hour the building was open, and money for replacing the bulbs frequently got eaten up by pointlessly high electrical bills.

But, yeah: it sure is horrible the way the gubmint keeps me from splashing someone else's poop all over my clothes as I pre-flush, and rubbing it on my hands as I turn the water off. Damn them!
posted by IAmBroom at 1:47 PM on May 6 [7 favorites]


I was making a (I thought, humorous) point about the imperfections of electronic luxuries, not encouraging everybody to vote Rand Paul for president. Settle down there, old-timer.
posted by cribcage at 1:55 PM on May 6


What's the idea here- that the government could remotely control these guns?

After Edward Snowden, can there be any doubt that the US Government would do everything possible to install backdoors in smart gun software? You don't need to be paranoid to think that would definitely happen and you don't have to be an anti-government crank to realize why that would be a bad idea.
posted by straight at 1:56 PM on May 6 [4 favorites]


I'm surprised the police/law enforcement lobby isn't drooling to get a hold of those, which would end (most) of the fears of officers having their own guns turned on them in a fight or other situations.
posted by Atreides at 2:02 PM on May 6


I'm surprised the police/law enforcement lobby isn't drooling to get a hold of those, which would end (most) of the fears of officers having their own guns turned on them in a fight or other situations.

As some people have noted, the failure rate is an issue. They're more afraid of the gun failing to operate than someone turning it on them. They're obsessive about cleaning and maintaining their weapons as well, but there isn't really a good user preventive maintenance regime for the computers in smart guns.
posted by Etrigan at 2:07 PM on May 6 [3 favorites]


But they come pre-installed with Norton or McAfee!
posted by desjardins at 2:08 PM on May 6 [4 favorites]


but there isn't really a good user preventive maintenance regime for the computers in smart guns.

There is seriously no way of just definitively saying this.

Everything else the cops do in this country is getting completely computerized. Plate scanners, in-cruiser computers, computerized booking, evidence, etc. Every other piece of equipment and "upgrade" the cops are getting is computerized, and there's no way in hell it doesn't all have maintenance schedules, reliability requirements, failsafes, etc.
posted by emptythought at 2:13 PM on May 6


Everything else the cops do in this country is getting completely computerized. Plate scanners, in-cruiser computers, computerized booking, evidence, etc. Every other piece of equipment and "upgrade" the cops are getting is computerized, and there's no way in hell it doesn't all have maintenance schedules, reliability requirements, failsafes, etc.

I agree that it's not a legitimate fear, but none of those things keeps a crackhead with a knife from killing a cop, so they don't like the idea.
posted by Etrigan at 2:15 PM on May 6


Considering the number of gun enthusiasts out there, even if this was a "closed system" like say VWs VAGCOM computer systems, do you really believe this wouldn't be solved within months at most?

Again, I really think you underestimate the durability firearms enthusiasts want in their guns. Electronics are not nearly as hard to screw up as steel. People don't want to have to have pocket computers to service their rifles, even if they are cheap and convenient - because it means they are dependent on the mercy of someone else to be able to continue to use their firearm and/or they'll start breaking down faster.
posted by corb at 2:21 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


Ars Technica's hands-on with a $17,000 Linux-powered rifle.
posted by Corinth at 2:26 PM on May 6


Ars Technica's hands-on with a $17,000 Linux-powered rifle.

(As discussed last year)
posted by cjelli at 2:29 PM on May 6


Ha, I should have known.
posted by Corinth at 2:31 PM on May 6


I don't know what kind of milksop phones in anonymous death threats. Probably don't have the guts to be an actual criminal in the first place and they certainly wouldn't have the character to fight and sacrifice for a real cause if push came to shove.

Clearly, they never paid attention to the classics.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:38 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


there's no way in hell it doesn't all have maintenance schedules, reliability requirements, failsafes, etc.

In a perfect world, that's probably how things would be. In practice, many departments don't have procedures in place, and many more "have" the procedures but disregard them for a variety of reasons including budget, equipment and staffing shortages, and sure, sometimes negligence. The best example is breathalyzer devices. OUI charges are pretty routinely challenged on the basis of improper device care or maintenance (certification).

I really think you underestimate the durability firearms enthusiasts want in their guns.

Yeah, it might be worth explaining that operability is a significant part of firearms design. It's a seesaw between operability and accuracy. You can build a pinpoint-accurate gun that you'll need to keep religiously clean, or you can build a gun that will reliably fire after being dropped into a sandbox but that puts rounds down range less precisely. Olympic shooters care about one and Army Rangers care about the other. There's a reason this particular smart gun was designed in .22 LR as opposed to 9 mm. It's not a common self-defense caliber, so it doesn't open the door quite as wide or as obviously to the self-defense arguments...which, as you can see, find their way in anyway.
posted by cribcage at 2:38 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


I've always liked the idea of serial numbers on bullets

I've heard this argument a lot of the last few years, and I certainly agree that if it were possible, it would be a great idea.

But

The fact is, making your own bullets, while not trivially easy, is certainly within the realm of anyone who has a couple hundred bucks and wants to try. The next argument typically addresses that reloaders usually buy the bullets (the tips that come out of the gun) in bulk and those could be serial numbered: sure, but again, anyone who wants to have serial free bullets just needs to cast their own. Non-copper coated bullets will make a gun dirtier faster, but will still kill someone dead, and all you need to make them is a heat source, a supply of lead, and a bullet mold.

Lastly, the idea of barrels that somehow mark the bullet as it leaves the gun is probably the best version of this, unfortunately, nearly every gun out there has a replaceable barrel that can be bought cheap on the internet with no background checks. The part of a gun that is considered the "Gun" is usually the part that holds the trigger assembly, and only that is regulated. Everything else can be gotten extremely easily, and even if legislation was put in place right now to stop that, it wouldn't work for shotguns, or the millions of guns already out there.

If we want to deal with guns, we need to change the culture, and push through what Australia managed to do a couple of decades ago. Anything short of that (and including that) would be too easy to circumvent.
posted by quin at 2:49 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


After Edward Snowden, can there be any doubt that the US Government would do everything possible to install backdoors in smart gun software? You don't need to be paranoid to think that would definitely happen and you don't have to be an anti-government crank to realize why that would be a bad idea.

That said, there is a pretty easy fix for that. The unlocking component uses RFID. It would be pretty easy to take a gun apart and check whether it had any longer-range transmission devices built in. I can't imagine that anyone seeking to appeal to the militia market would be eager to have a teardown reveal that they were reporting data secretly from the device.

(Mind you, nobody seems to mind that much about phones, so...)
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:29 PM on May 6


If we want to deal with guns, we need to change the culture, and push through what Australia managed to do a couple of decades ago.

And this is why the gun owners are all "not one step back." Nobody's a fool. We know what the end goal is.
posted by corb at 3:37 PM on May 6 [3 favorites]


Indeed, the end goal of what happened in Australia was terrible.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:09 PM on May 6 [5 favorites]


Again, I really think you underestimate the durability firearms enthusiasts want in their guns. Electronics are not nearly as hard to screw up as steel. People don't want to have to have pocket computers to service their rifles, even if they are cheap and convenient - because it means they are dependent on the mercy of someone else to be able to continue to use their firearm and/or they'll start breaking down faster.

Well then i think the next step here is, of course ignoring the fact that these existing will not suddenly vanish out of existence every previously manufactured gun, is to lobby for some national regulation ala car airbags, flight computers, etc on what the testing and reliability standards of this stuff needs to be.

Because it's coming, and it's going to get made and sold. Get some regulations going on how reliable, safe, and consistent it needs to be.

I'm sitting in a warehouse next to a coffee roastery/bagging/etc operation with a number of small pieces of electronic equipment that can handle boiling water, dust, mud, ridiculous temperature variances, and just generally all manner of abuse. Some of it is a decade old. A lot of it was built to package medical supplies in a perfect, sterile manner every time and never make an error. A lot of the roads to the sort of things that will need to be properly handled here have already been paved by car computer systems and that sort of thing.

There are plenty of systems built in such a way that one of the requirements are "if this system fucks up in any way, someone will die or be seriously injured". Smart engineers figured it out. That kind of stuff went from 5 to 6 figure industrial equipment to 2 to 3 figure car parts very quickly, and has likely gone down even more and especially would with economies of scale.

"I know of other electronic things that fuck up so therefor this will" is a pretty ignorant argument, and is definitely a bit ludite-y.

The trick is not giving the manufacturers wiggle room to not do this right on day one.

And also, to be prepared to tell people to shut the fuck up who come forward with stuff like that dumbass in florida whose prius "wouldn't stop accelerating" and "I can't shift it into neutral, the car will flip over!" who have an agenda and are totally lying.

Make there be a universal set of standards this sort of thing has to meet to be legally sold, and make the bar high.

I just see no reason to assume this will be done wrong, or more importantly that there is no way to do it without it being a disaster and mishandled. They're guns. I'm sure most of the people involved realize "fuck, this really needs to work like the space shuttle computers did".
posted by emptythought at 4:13 PM on May 6


We know what the end goal is.

This is where we cue up the Imperial Death March, right?
posted by soundguy99 at 4:15 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


Actually, watching that Daily Show link again, I can't help but notice that the pro-gun dude attempts (and sort of fails) to use swimming pool safety as a piece of evidence in his favor.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:25 PM on May 6


People don't want to have to have pocket computers to service their rifles

Yes they do. Tech geeks are a significant chunk of the gun market and a demographic with unusual disposable income. To many people, hackable guns can't come soon enough.

I assume that the "pocket computer" would be a smartphone. Using your smartphone to record video from your smartgun's camera feed, for example, would be great, whether it's recreationally streamed to your friend or used defensively the way that Russian drivers use dash-cams.
It would open a whole realm of apps.

Perhaps that $17,000 ultra-sniper linux rifle could become a $1 app (the safety-bracelet smartgun already means wireless trigger-lock, smartphone can release that lock at the precise moment, calculated from camera feed, etc)

Tech+guns is a market primed to take off.
yeah, I went there
posted by anonymisc at 4:36 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


There's already at least one sniper assistant iPhone app, Bulletflight, produced by Knight's Armament - the iPhone is held in place by a holder attached to the rifle rail...
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:45 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


"I know of other electronic things that fuck up so therefor this will" is a pretty ignorant argument, and is definitely a bit ludite-y.

The people I know that will argue most vehemently about the limitations of technology work in the industry. They/we are not luddites.

The examples given about systems that are built not to fail were multi-million dollar endeavors (per implementations). And even so, there are industrial accidents, and people (occasionally) die in factories that contain (potentially) dangerous equipment. And while most space shuttle flights have worked out well, not all of them have (ie: people have died due to technical failures in that system).

So, as an experiment - take any piece of electronics that you own that uses a battery (as all of these gun systems presumably will). Stick it in a desk drawer (not a gun, but say, a flashlight, or something ridiculously simple), with it's batteries in it. Then open that same desk drawer in a decade.

Car manufacturers don't get their systems perfect; they recall parts all of the time (sometimes much later than they should have, at the cost of human lives).

I am no luddite, I yearn to live in this techno-utopia where engineers create perfect and perfectly safe products.
posted by el io at 4:49 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


And this is why the gun owners are all "not one step back." Nobody's a fool. We know what the end goal is.

A civilized society where guns are specific tools for controlling vermin and sporting equipment which is appropriately secured?

God forbid Australia doesn't let any moron just have a gun lying around. They could shoot someone!
posted by Talez at 4:57 PM on May 6 [6 favorites]


Smoke/CO alarms and fire extinguishers are both excellent examples of safety equipment that needs certification and maintenance over time, and we don't seem to have many issues keeping those running...
posted by mikurski at 4:58 PM on May 6


The whole problem I have with any gun being so freely available, is the stupid vicious cycle of the need.
I need a gun to defend myself, from someone who has a gun, and they have the gun because I am armed with a gun, and due to them having a gun, I need a gun to defend from their gun, which they have due to me having gun (repeat)........
posted by Merlin The Happy Pig at 4:59 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


So, as an experiment - take any piece of electronics that you own that uses a battery (as all of these gun systems presumably will). Stick it in a desk drawer (not a gun, but say, a flashlight, or something ridiculously simple), with it's batteries in it. Then open that same desk drawer in a decade.

I've done that. There's no problem.
posted by anonymisc at 5:02 PM on May 6


I've done that. There's no problem.

=/= there is never a problem.
posted by straight at 5:13 PM on May 6


It would be pretty easy to take a gun apart and check whether it had any longer-range transmission devices built in. I can't imagine that anyone seeking to appeal to the militia market would be eager to have a teardown reveal that they were reporting data secretly from the device.

I wouldn't rule out the feds wanting guns that "talk," but I think the more likely scenario is a system where the feds (or anyone else who finds the backdoor) can broadcast a kill signal to disable the gun. Imagine how much police would love to be able to broadcast such a signal before they raid a building.
posted by straight at 5:15 PM on May 6


Depends on the device and the battery, obviously. A phone that's expected to be charged every day won't still work, but a watch, sure. And yes, if you're judging whether the battery in this will remain viable after ten years, you're gonna look at batteries designed for long usage, not all batteries that exist.
posted by kafziel at 5:16 PM on May 6


I've done that. There's no problem.

=/= there is never a problem.


=/= problems so rampant that they reduce instead of enhance outcomes.

Throwing up of hands as if the difficulty is overwhelming just seems... small. It's not how we got to the moon, or built the electric luxury car, or invented the semi-auto.

We solve more difficult problems every day.
posted by anonymisc at 5:17 PM on May 6


I wouldn't rule out the feds wanting guns that "talk," but I think the more likely scenario is a system where the feds (or anyone else who finds the backdoor) can broadcast a kill signal to disable the gun. Imagine how much police would love to be able to broadcast such a signal before they raid a building.

This would require an entirely different sort of receiver than is used for RFID.
posted by kafziel at 5:18 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't rule out the feds wanting guns that "talk," but I think the more likely scenario is a system where the feds (or anyone else who finds the backdoor) can broadcast a kill signal to disable the gun. Imagine how much police would love to be able to broadcast such a signal before they raid a building.

Gosh, how terrifying! Such a scenario would reduce both the number of murdered police officers and at the same time remove the reason for most shootings by police! I don't know which is sadder, a police officer not being killed in the line of duty, or an unarmed citizen not being killed by a cop!

Unless you are intending to murder law enforcement officials, I'm not exactly sure why this is a bad thing.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 5:31 PM on May 6 [6 favorites]


A Gift from the Culture
posted by ovvl at 5:38 PM on May 6


The fact is, making your own bullets, while not trivially easy, is certainly within the realm of anyone who has a couple hundred bucks and wants to try.

I think that's mostly irrelevant. It's saying that 98% is no good because it's not %100. I imagine there is talk that the tiny% of gun owners who make their own ammo would rapidly be joined by lots of people who don't want to make ammo but don't want numbers on their bullets even more. But take a look at humanity. The demographics of who will become ammo hobbiests (or continually jump hoops for overpriced inconvenient blackmarket ammo), and the demographics most at risk of being murderer suspects... not a huge overlap.
It's not like self-loaded ammo is super untraceable, it's just the status quo. Most people will continue to get ammo the same way they've always done it. Because that's what people are like.
posted by anonymisc at 5:40 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


And this is why the gun owners are all "not one step back." Nobody's a fool. We know what the end goal is.

And this is why people who are not gun fanatics shouldn't take the arguments of gun fanatics seriously. This is a confession that you won't support any additional gun regulation even if it does way more good than harm, because you see it as a step towards confiscation.

Even if everybody who favored some additional regulation of guns secretly wished to confiscate all guns, there's no way that they can muster the political power to do so in the American political system in the foreseeable future. There are far too many veto points, and far too much power in the anti-regulation forces. And if confiscators somehow do amass enough votes in Congress to ban guns outright in 2114, the failure of Congress to pass moderate additional gun regulations in 2014 won't prevent some future Congress from doing so.

That's what makes intransigent opposition to reasonable additional regulations so frustrating to me; there are things we could do that would absolutely save lives and impose nothing worse than a minor inconvenience on law-abiding citizens, and yet we can't do them because of this "not one step back" attitude, which is based on a complete lack of understanding of American political institutions.
posted by burden at 5:44 PM on May 6 [18 favorites]


Throwing up of hands as if the difficulty is overwhelming just seems... small.

I think there's a lot of space between throwing up our hands and landing a man on the moon. That said, if we are going to apply that analogical spectrum to this particular example, then I would suggest that a law mandating all guns be smart guns in five years is much closer to trying to land a man on the moon than mandating mechanical locks is to throwing up our hands.
posted by cribcage at 5:45 PM on May 6


Meanwhile, in Australia, things are looking pretty horrific.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:49 PM on May 6


The technology is supposedly sooo difficult, except that it already exists. But no-one is learning about it or putting it through its paces because extremists are so intent on jamming the genie back into the bottle so that no-one can buy it. The supposed technical difficulty is not the problem at all, it's a red herring.
posted by anonymisc at 5:49 PM on May 6


Meanwhile, in Australia, things are looking pretty horrific.

Susan is back with Karl? He doesn't deserve her!
posted by Talez at 5:52 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


Some people may actually want a "smart gun". Hey, potentially more guns on the market! But no, the hard core gun folks are denying potential customers like me to have a truely safe weapon in my house. If I owned a gun I would never ever want even the most minuscule possibility that someone else could get thier hands on it.

The only reason that I even have thought about getting a gun is because I live in a rural area and I have seen plenty of injured and about to die animals and I'd like to end thier suffering. But I am not even sure that I could do that.

I guess what I am saying is that even though guns are not for me, this option should still be out there.

As a single woman living in a rural area where it would take a significant amount of time for plice to respond I have thought a lot about this. I imagine my response time to an intruder/threat while I am sound asleep and the math just doesn't work out for me. Real life is not a heroic movie scene. I sleep with my phone next to me and have a very alert dog.

Shit happens when you least expect it. Even if you have a gun you are not likely to have an opportunty to access or use it. Where are all the heroic news stories of individual gun owners stopping crime?
posted by futz at 5:55 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


That's what makes intransigent opposition to reasonable additional regulations so frustrating to me; there are things we could do that would absolutely save lives and impose nothing worse than a minor inconvenience on law-abiding citizens, and yet we can't do them because of this "not one step back" attitude,

Actually, you could do better than that - there could be reasonable regulations that save lives and reduce the burden on law-abiding gun owners.
Navigating gun laws and requirements in the USA is a nightmare compared to some places I've lived which have sensible gun control (which I define as "the criminals aren't using guns, but the gun enthusiasts are").

If this society could throw out the mess of token nibbling-round-the-edges-because-that's-all-we-can-do regulations that achieve little other than inconveniencing people, and replace them with far fewer basic rules that actually work, fewer lower hoops to jump through, everyone would win. But politically there's too much suspicion and hostility for reform.
posted by anonymisc at 5:56 PM on May 6


But politically there's too much suspicion and hostility.

And lies. Don't forget the lies. Misinformation and paranoia are so ingrained in these gun advocate's arguments that to say they've stopped arguing in good faith is incorrect, simply because they never started.
posted by gadge emeritus at 5:59 PM on May 6 [5 favorites]


And lies. Don't forget the lies. Misinformation and paranoia are so ingrained in these gun advocate's arguments that to say they've stopped arguing in good faith is incorrect, simply because they never started.

Here's where interpreting the first amendment as meaning we have an unlimited right to lie and call it news dovetails with interpreting the second amendment as meaning having a right to unlimited guns.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:03 PM on May 6 [6 favorites]


But no-one is learning about it or putting it through its paces because extremists...

Maybe. But possibly another, additional factor is that non-extremists who hear about this technology aren't impressed with it. It's an idea that, while well-intentioned, strikes a lot of people as silly and misguided. In a way it seems almost backward, in terms of technological progress: your mall-bought iPhone can recognize a thumbprint, yet this "smart" gun requires introducing an external device into the mix. Also, look at the thing. I'm not an expert on moldings and maybe there is some legitimate reason why it was designed to look like a Star Trek phaser, but the result is hard to take seriously as a potential replacement, as New Jersey has set it up to be, for a traditional pistol.

Extremists have their reasons for opposing it, sure. But I can envision ways to have introduced this type of technology that might have given moderates more footholds to get on board. As it stands, I suspect most non-extremists look at this device and see something not especially relevant to their lives, except for the potential mandatory change to the marketplace. Which puts most of them, for better or worse, in this limited instance, on the extremists' side.
posted by cribcage at 6:08 PM on May 6


This is a confession that you won't support any additional gun regulation even if it does way more good than harm, because you see it as a step towards confiscation.

Confiscation is real and taking place right now in various areas in the country. How it works is they make illegal a type of weapon or accessory, then declare that having it is a crime and worthy of confiscation and potential jail time, and then they raid and confiscate. This is not some crazy kook scenario, this is happening right now in areas that recently upped gun bans.

If a federal law were passed enshrining that all guns of any type existing in individuals' possession would be grandfathered and never, ever, seized, with it not able to be lifted or undone before a certain time 100 years in the future? Then I might buy it. But until then, these steps are very real and concerning.
posted by corb at 6:10 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


Confiscation is real and taking place right now in various areas in the country. How it works is they make illegal a type of weapon or accessory, then declare that having it is a crime and worthy of confiscation and potential jail time, and then they raid and confiscate. This is not some crazy kook scenario, this is happening right now in areas that recently upped gun bans.

[citation needed]
posted by kafziel at 6:18 PM on May 6 [19 favorites]


It's an idea that, while well-intentioned, strikes a lot of people as silly and misguided.

The jury remains out because all the people who do want to buy it are being prevented from doing so (ironically by people unironically claiming to protect the right of Americans to buy firearms).
posted by anonymisc at 6:19 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


But no, the hard core gun folks are denying potential customers like me to have a truely safe weapon in my house.

That's one way to look at it—although reading the entirety of your comment, it doesn't sound like you were all that potential of a customer, so to speak. I don't think the discussion around this technology has been helped by the fact that many of the people talking about being "prevented" from buying this smart gun are pretty transparently not, themselves, ever going to buy this gun.

But that aside, there's another way to look at the problem. In a vacuum, no gun owner would care whether you own a smart gun. The reason some people do care is they fear the technology will become mandatory. In other words, people only care about your ownership of a smart gun insofar as it relates to their ownership of other things.
posted by cribcage at 6:28 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


That's one way to look at it—although reading the entirety of your comment, it doesn't sound like you were all that potential of a customer, so to speak. I don't think the discussion around this technology has been helped by the fact that many of the people talking about being "prevented" from buying this smart gun are pretty transparently not, themselves, ever going to buy this gun.

Well now. If we start legislating to disarm people expressing opinions about things that don't immediately concern them, we're pretty much going to have to rebuild the Internet.

As an aside, I kind of like the aesthetics. I mean, I'm not in the market right now, so possibly my opinion doesn't matter, but generally guns that look more Deus Ex than Call of Duty are likely to appeal to me, in part because they seem less like an implicit buy-in to a whole weird gun show culture that is so clearly opposed to them. A gun for nerds would open up an exciting new demographic!

(The only problem would be fitting the band on around my Fitbit, Pebble, Misfit Shine etc. But where there's a will!)
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:39 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


"Confiscation is real and taking place right now in various areas in the country. How it works is they make illegal a type of weapon or accessory, then declare that having it is a crime and worthy of confiscation and potential jail time, and then they raid and confiscate. This is not some crazy kook scenario, this is happening right now in areas that recently upped gun bans. "

Hmm. That sounds like paranoid bullshit. Let's make sure we've got the goalposts firmly established: "Various areas" means "not just the debatable Connecticut situation," and by confiscation, you're not talking about people who have guns illegally now having to give them up, but rather novel confiscation.

So what non-kook evidence do you have that this is an actual, widespread problem? (Further, you seem to be implying that there should be no weapons or accessories that should be illegal that are not now illegal. I'd prefer if these examples aren't related to, essentially, analogues of banned technology, e.g. silencers.)
posted by klangklangston at 6:39 PM on May 6 [9 favorites]


Confiscation is real and taking place right now in various areas in the country. How it works is they make police officers confiscate guns in cases of domestic abuse.

This is a good idea.

citation
posted by el io at 6:44 PM on May 6 [5 favorites]


I'm surprised the police/law enforcement lobby isn't drooling to get a hold of those

This particular kind of "smart" gun does not seem like it would be all that useful for violent conflict against human beings who come prepared, if it were to become widely used enough to be worth defeating. It probably does some kind of cryptographically secure communication between the gun and the "active RFID" wrist watch. If not, spoofing it would be relatively easy, making the extra complication useless against moderately sophisticated adversaries. If so, it's going to be easy to jam, meaning your gun won't work against slightly sophisticated people who want to not be shot at. No need to "install backdoors", just overpower the undoubtedly weak transmitter with a bit of electromagnetic noise.
posted by sfenders at 6:54 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


This particular kind of "smart" gun does not seem like it would be all that useful for violent conflict against human beings who come prepared

So? There isn't any gun, smart or otherwise, that's useful for a violent conflict against human beings who come prepared.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 6:59 PM on May 6


many of the people talking about being "prevented" from buying this smart gun are pretty transparently not, themselves, ever going to buy this gun.

FWIW, I know I've been aware of and waiting to buy this kind of tech for many years. I've used its non-availability in the past to justify not pulling the trigger (hur hur) on purchasing, and for not bothering to finish the paperwork necessary just yet.
My concerns with this smartgun (which I hope the future will fix soon) is that it is as-yet only available in one model and one caliber. Scratch that, it's not even available in any caliber, but you know what I mean.

There is a market for high-tech guns.
(And I suspect there is quite possibly a hell of a market for them.)

The real question is how many early-adopters there will be for this tech. The market won't appear until the early-adopters have paved the way.
posted by anonymisc at 7:01 PM on May 6


Maybe. But possibly another, additional factor is that non-extremists who hear about this technology aren't impressed with it. It's an idea that, while well-intentioned, strikes a lot of people as silly and misguided. In a way it seems almost backward, in terms of technological progress: your mall-bought iPhone can recognize a thumbprint, yet this "smart" gun requires introducing an external device into the mix.

I'm with you on this one. One of the first things I'll do if this becomes mandatory is to install a RFID frequency jammer in the car in order to disarm would-be carjackers who end up with them.

Fingerprints/palm prints are a much more reasonable approach.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:33 PM on May 6


Fingerprints/palm prints are a much more reasonable approach.

If it could select and fire six different types of specialty ammunition, that would be pretty fetch, also.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:52 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


Let's make sure we've got the goalposts firmly established: "Various areas" means "not just the debatable Connecticut situation," and by confiscation, you're not talking about people who have guns illegally now having to give them up, but rather novel confiscation.

I'm thinking Connecticut and New York, in particular, because these are areas that very recently imposed sweeping gun/magazine bans. By confiscation, I am talking about people who have guns that were legal as of four years ago, but were made illegal after their purchase and ownership of them.
posted by corb at 7:56 PM on May 6


And to clarify: not even the most paranoid, GOA member*, gun owner thinks there's going to be a broad, blanket ban on all firearms, with cops going door-to-door, kicking them in to find the guns, a la Iraq. The belief is that the slope of guns which are banned will widen and widen, with police using existing past gun registrations in order to know where to look for said guns.

*When people talk about the NRA being crazy, I really hope you look to see what the other organizations are. The NRA is a voice of reason in the discourse.
posted by corb at 8:01 PM on May 6


Meanwhile, we teach others about what it means to live in a society chock-full of guns. Respect the culture! Gun owners, so responsible!
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 8:14 PM on May 6 [3 favorites]


corb: And to clarify: not even the most paranoid, GOA member... thinks there's going to be a broad, blanket ban on all firearms, with cops going door-to-door...

With apologies to Cy Sperling, this guy isn't just a member, he's also the Executive Director.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:27 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


When people talk about the NRA being crazy, I really hope you look to see what the other organizations are. The NRA is a voice of reason in the discourse.

Just as a side note, the existence of people & organizations even more rabidly anti-gun-control than the NRA is not evidence that the NRA is a voice of reason, any more than the existence of those who believe that dinosaurs are still alive in the center of the earth and you can get there through a hole in the North Pole is evidence that people who believe in Young Earth Creationism are reasonable.

I'm thinking Connecticut and New York,

So.

2 states.

One of which klangklangston is clearly already aware of and already discounted as a "debatable" situation.

And in either state, where are these "raid[s]" you speak of?
posted by soundguy99 at 8:40 PM on May 6 [3 favorites]


corb: "The NRA is a voice of reason in the discourse."

Well, I wouldn't go that far.
posted by Corinth at 8:43 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


And, not for nothing, corb, but you have invoked the spectre of door-to-door confiscation before. I find that hard to reconcile with your statement that not even the craziest of crazies thinks it's going to happen. I'm really not going for a "gotcha" here -- perhaps your position has evolved or something -- but I think this is relevant to your invocation of the straw man fallacy.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:47 PM on May 6 [3 favorites]


The idea that Obama is gonna confiscate guns is a staple of right wing thinking these days.
posted by telstar at 8:54 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


And to clarify: not even the most paranoid, GOA member*, gun owner thinks there's going to be a broad, blanket ban on all firearms, with cops going door-to-door, kicking them in to find the guns,

This happened during Hurricane Katrina.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 8:59 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


The idea that any given Democrat is gonna confiscate guns has been a staple of right wing thinking for the last thirty years.
posted by Etrigan at 8:59 PM on May 6 [3 favorites]


cribcage: "When the tech industry can keep my MacBook from crashing for a week—and I am not running any kind of complicated software on this thing—then maybe we'll talk about computerized planes flying aloft for months at a time.
"

It's obviously possible to design embedded systems that function reliably for longer than a week and fail in a safe manner if they do. When was the last time you saw a ATM spew bills into the street?

emptythought: "Plenty of people still work on their own cars though. And i haven't found it all that much harder to work on newer cars. There's more plastic, and you need different tools... but it's just different, not necessarily worse.
"

Customization is much different. More blue lights and big speakers and less marquee mismatch engine swaps.

quin: "The fact is, making your own bullets, while not trivially easy, is certainly within the realm of anyone who has a couple hundred bucks and wants to try. The next argument typically addresses that reloaders usually buy the bullets (the tips that come out of the gun) in bulk and those could be serial numbered: sure, but again, anyone who wants to have serial free bullets just needs to cast their own. Non-copper coated bullets will make a gun dirtier faster, but will still kill someone dead, and all you need to make them is a heat source, a supply of lead, and a bullet mold."

Even if only 10% of crimes were committed with serialized bullets that are able to be traced back to the criminal it would still seem like a big win considering the serialization would be so cheap. Practically speaking the only people I know who cast bullets are black powder shooters and I don't see that changing much. Street level criminals aren't going to bother and neither are people committing spur of the moment crimes.
posted by Mitheral at 9:37 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


Seriously, these folks tend to think that the real world works like an action film. They picture a world where their home is invaded only at the moment when they are armed and prepared for assault, where their obedient children hand ma and pa fresh ammo clips to continue fending off the savage hoardes until the cavalry arrives. I'm not "shooting from the hip" here either, I'm essentially paraphrasing actual conversations I've had with people in gun stores!

Yes, I was Googling around about an old model of handgun and stumbled into forums where people were talking about their primary carry being a 40 cal, and then a .38 stubby for backup, and possibly a .22 or .25 for backup in their ankle holster, but those are only good for when someone is like right up in you and you need to shoot through them like a movie...

From one forum to another there was a common thread of these guys visualizing themselves rolling out of bed, grabbing a shotgun, scurrying their family members to safety, and making somebody's day. And it's unsettling because you can tell a lot of them really want this to happen. Just give 'em a reason...yeah that bodes well once they start talking about walking around with 2-3 loaded concealed firearms, and I thought I was crazy for having 2-3 e-cigarettes and "mods" around at all times.
posted by aydeejones at 9:50 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


smidgen> So what was your point again? Why do you even own a handgun?

The point is that armed self defense is a matter of incremental advantage, and things going as well as possible for the defender. Make the gun "safer" and more defenders lose to their attackers. Maybe that means they get bitten by an aggressive dog, or maybe it means they get raped or murdered.

Why make something that's already hard even harder when my life is at stake? More importantly, why should I let you make the choice for me?

Mitheral> It's obviously possible to design embedded systems that function reliably for longer than a week and fail in a safe manner if they do.

I have a sense that some people in this thread my disagree as to what constitutes a safe failure mode for a firearm here. If the system fails, does it shoot, or not shoot?
posted by Sunburnt at 9:53 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


One example was a dude who had a Saturday Night Special of some sort and was trying to gain some approval by pointing out a story where a guy was shot 2-3 times with that (a .25) and finally a 40 cal, and eventually died. So everyone came out to school the dude about what a ridiculous "success" story that was, and one of them went into a whole "Dirty Harry" monologue that I can't find now, but it was basically like "Do you want to be the guy who's like 'Hey man, I know you're wondering, how many times did my gun jam, and how small is it, and weak, because I am a small man with a small gun and are you shot and don't even notice' or do you want to have a hand cannon? I know what I'd want..." Blaah
posted by aydeejones at 9:55 PM on May 6


A Gift From the Culture

As long as we're bringing up sci-fi, there's also Psycho-Pass. Premise: if you're going to let the gun decide who can fire it, why not let it decide who needs shooting, too?
posted by teraflop at 10:07 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


The NRA is a voice of reason in the discourse.

Only to the extent that a patient of a mental asylum isn't currently screaming about the bugs pouring out of the walls because he's been pumped full of drugs.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:31 PM on May 6


If we want to deal with guns, we need to change the culture, and push through what Australia managed to do a couple of decades ago.

And this is why the gun owners are all "not one step back." Nobody's a fool. We know what the end goal is.


If you have a problem with the end goal being a society that hasn't experienced a mass shooting since 1996, and has cut gun violence in half, then you are almost certainly a fool.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 12:11 AM on May 7 [13 favorites]


And, not for nothing, corb, but you have invoked the spectre of door-to-door confiscation before. I find that hard to reconcile with your statement that not even the craziest of crazies thinks it's going to happen.

I have, but I don't think you've understood - or perhaps I haven't clarified - what I'm talking about. I'm talking about situations such as happened in New York.
the New York City Council and anti-gun Mayor John Lindsay enacted long gun registration. The per-gun fee was just a few dollars. The politicians promised that gun registration could help solve crimes and, even if it didn’t, registration was harmless. After all, it was just registering guns, not confiscating them.

As registration did nothing to solve crime or stop criminal use of guns, crime continued to get worse in the city. So in 1991, with the city becoming increasingly unlivable, Mayor David Dinkins attempted to make himself think he was tough on crime, this time by pressuring the City Council to enact a ban on so-called “assault weapons” (such as the M1 carbine). After that, the New York state police used registration lists to conduct home inspections of every individual whose registered gun had been outlawed. The police were ensuring that the registered guns had been moved out of the city or already surrendered to the government.
Or situations such as Katrina, as referenced above. When I say no one thinks broad-based door to door searches will be going on, I mean short of open civil war, they're not going to be breaking into random civilian's homes looking for guns. However, they go looking for guns that they've recently declared illegal right now. In NYC, I can't take a subway without seeing a sign about the NYPD offering a $10K bounty for knowledge of anyone with illegal guns. In every state that has gun bans, they use available knowledge to attempt to track and seize individuals in violation of the ban. And all it takes for a gun to become illegal is for someone to pass a law. In New York, it can be done in a closed session with normal legislative input - or even time to read the bill - suspended, within just a few days.
posted by corb at 12:38 AM on May 7


And all it takes for a gun to become illegal is for someone to pass a law.

Uh, yes? That's how anything becomes illegal. A legislative body passes a law. It's not a papal bull.

In every state that has gun bans, they use available knowledge to attempt to track and seize individuals in violation of the ban.

Right, law enforcement investigates law breaking and then they institute some kind of penalty or remedy to stop the law breaking. That's why it's called "law enforcement."
posted by Snarl Furillo at 1:19 AM on May 7 [16 favorites]


corb, do you think an article from www.nrapublications.org is a reliable source of information about the history of gun laws in the US?
posted by serif at 1:21 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


"I have, but I don't think you've understood - or perhaps I haven't clarified - what I'm talking about. I'm talking about situations such as happened in New York."

Yeah, I'm gonna have to ask for a better source than NRA Publications, full of unsourced bullshit like, "We know that the vast majority of burglars in the United States (unlike in Great Britain or Ireland) try to avoid breaking into a home when someone is there because of the risk of being shot by the homeowner."

"In NYC, I can't take a subway without seeing a sign about the NYPD offering a $10K bounty for knowledge of anyone with illegal guns."

A BLASTED HELLSCAPE

"In every state that has gun bans, they use available knowledge to attempt to track and seize individuals in violation of the ban."

In every state that has parking tickets, they use available knowledge to attempt to track and seize cars that don't pay their tickets.

"And all it takes for a gun to become illegal is for someone to pass a law. "

Oh man, know you're just back to the future, but check out this SCOTUS decision called Heller, it was kind of a big deal.
posted by klangklangston at 1:25 AM on May 7 [4 favorites]


A legislative body passes a law. It's not a papal bull.

I had to look up what a 'papal bull' was.

jokes, jokes...
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:41 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


As an aside, this account of the New Orleans gun confiscations, by a former marine, NRA member and Oath Keeper who returned to NOLA in the aftermath of Katrina, suggests that it was a panic response, rapidly recanted and not meaningfully enforced on the ground.

He is, of course, called a liar in the first comment by somebody who witnessed the whole thing from Florida.

(How reliable this chap is as a witness I can't speak for, but the editorial direction of the site is very definitely against firearms regulation.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:14 AM on May 7 [4 favorites]


When people talk about the NRA being crazy, I really hope you look to see what the other organizations are. The NRA is a voice of reason in the discourse.

The NRA keep the very same gun registry that they whip their members up about constantly, and I have exactly zero reason to believe they wouldn't hand it over to an administration they consider friendly. They also have a long and storied history of racism and xenophobia, including their convention last week, to which I will add to the commentary above that it included a sitting Governor of a state going the whole "state's rights is totally not about Jim Crow" route in the middle of a brouhaha that got other gun advocates all het up about secession. It also had the head of the NRA dipping into a well of crazy:
In its attempts to influence the 2014 midterms, the NRA has decided to scare the hell out of folks by creating a vision of the kind of urban dystopia that worked so well at scaring the hell out of folks back in the 1980s, when Lee Atwater was running the show. It was at CPAC that NRA presiding loon Wayne LaPierre first took the concept for a test-drive before an adoring house. He ran the rap again this weekend, repeating it almost word for word, right down to the threat posed by "knockout gamers," for which you do not need the Enigma Machine to decode. It also debuted a new video, which rang changes on the same theme.

The world is a terribly dangerous place, so arm yourselves. This new approach makes the Willie Horton ad look like Shaft In Africa. The election is nowhere near as bad as it's going to get.
And remember, as I noted above, they also have an enemies list made up almost entirely of left-leaning social and civil justice organizations, including but not limited to: women's rights, anti-violence (including domestic and sexual violence), pretty much every religion that doesn't preach fire and brimstone, professional scientific and medical response that deal with gun violence and research into same (which the NRA has used Congress to attack for decades), teachers and administrators, labor unions, social workers, and youth education and rehabilitation.

The NRA are thisclose to being a straight-up hate group with a deep pocketbook and good political connections, if they haven't crossed that threshold already. Barring a sea change in their mission, there's really no excuse for someone who isn't a racist, xenophobic asshole to support them even if they share their stance on guns. If they're the "voice of reason" here, then the logical conclusion is that there is no reasonable gun group.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:26 AM on May 7 [14 favorites]


Confiscation is real and taking place right now in various areas in the country.

Uh huh. And the support for this statement is something that allegedly happened in 1991, a brief overreaction by local law enforcement in a crisis in 2005 and vague handwaving at new laws in CT and NY. Notably missing: evidence of actual confiscation actually taking place right now in various areas of the county.

If a federal law were passed enshrining that all guns of any type existing in individuals' possession would be grandfathered and never, ever, seized, with it not able to be lifted or undone before a certain time 100 years in the future? Then I might buy it.

This is a great example of what I mean by gun fanatics having a total lack of understanding of American political institutions. Congress has no power under the Constitution to pass a law that cannot be repealed by future Congresses. Even Constitutional amendments can be repealed. There is literally no mechanism available in the Constitution that could guarantee what is demanded here. Probably there is no mechanism on earth that could guarantee it.

It's instructive that a gun fanatic's idea of compromise is to demand something that is literally impossible to give them.
posted by burden at 5:17 AM on May 7 [13 favorites]


However, they go looking for guns that they've recently declared illegal right now.

Your sole source of this claim is a story about something that happened 23 years ago mentioned in an op-ed on nrapublications.org that has no references or citations or anything to back it up. So, bullshit, I call it. Once again.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 5:45 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


There is literally no mechanism available in the Constitution that could guarantee what is demanded here.

I refer you to Article VII, Section II, the No Backsies Clause.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:12 AM on May 7 [5 favorites]


I'm talking about situations such as happened in New York.

I have neither firsthand knowledge nor expertise to speak about what happened in New York in 1991. However, I can tell you, speaking from the perspective of an out-of-state expert, New York City is viewed as an anomaly. My professional opinion is that its laws are unfair to nonresidents and violate the spirit if not the letter of several constitutional clauses, and I think eventually those laws will be changed by a court or by Congress. In my experience, most experts agree with the first part if not the second. But I'm not aware of anybody who views New York as anything but an anomaly or believes its ideas are imminently likely to spread to other jurisdictions.

With that said, I'll suggest—and it's just a suggestion—that you leave that type of rhetoric out of these threads. People on this website are just itching to argue with a "gun fanatic." The primary difficulty of having a civil, engaging conversation on this topic is coaxing those people to converse with whomever is actually present in the thread, instead of shouting in the air at crazies elsewhere. When you or someone else decides to drag into the thread something like "the head of the NRA dipping into a well of crazy," it basically makes the task impossible.

If you are genuinely concerned about confiscations, I'm not sure what to tell you. I don't know where you live. In some jurisdictions where domestic protection orders automatically trigger confiscation of firearms, enforcement of even that provision is spotty. New Jersey's law is all kinds of dumb, but I don't think anybody really expects it won't be repealed; and even that law, to my understanding, addressed only sale and not possession. I'm not aware of anyone in the field whom I would take seriously who has expressed concern about confiscation of currently legal firearms. If it's an issue in your jurisdiction, possibly due to an overzealous state legislator or town official, then I would suggest you frame your concern in that context.
posted by cribcage at 6:55 AM on May 7


corb: I have, but I don't think you've understood - or perhaps I haven't clarified - what I'm talking about.

No, I totally understand -- you want to have it both ways. You want to declare that door-to-door confiscation is a straw man, but you want to use the fear of door-to-door confiscation as part of your slippery slope argument. If "nobody" believes door-to-door confiscation will happen, then why is it part of Larry Pratt's rhetorical toolbox, and why do you use it yourself? I'm sorry, but you were either disingenuous when you appealed to fears of door-to-door confiscation in the past, or you're being disingenuous now by trying to declare that nobody thinks such confiscation will happen.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:18 AM on May 7 [5 favorites]


Speaking of Larry Pratt, he was on Chris Hayes' show last night, and I'd appreciate it if someone can give me a cite for his doesn't-pass-the-smell-test figure of a 20% failure rate for smart guns.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:25 AM on May 7


corb: "The NRA is a voice of reason in the discourse."

For reference: The NRA's 2007 Freedom In Peril: Guarding the 2nd Amendment in the 21st Century brochure. (pdf)

"The document's text and its illustrations are so over-the-top that when they were first leaked by Wonkette, there was speculation that they were a hoax. But the NRA confirmed they were real, though it maintained they were from a stolen draft of a publication that has still yet to be publicly released."

cribcage: "When you or someone else decides to drag into the thread something like "the head of the NRA dipping into a well of crazy," it basically makes the task impossible."

Read the NRA brochure. It repeats some of the points being made in this very thread by people who are concerned about the guns being confiscated.

We have a right to be concerned when the head of the largest gun-rights political lobbying organization, engages in fearmongering by invoking racist paranoia and anti-government rhetoric. What LaPierre says matters, especially since he is speaking on behalf of an organization which directly influences national as well as local politics across the country. His opinions clearly don't exist in a vacuum when they are being parroted by NRA members.
posted by zarq at 7:34 AM on May 7 [4 favorites]


Sunburnt: "
I have a sense that some people in this thread my disagree as to what constitutes a safe failure mode for a firearm here. If the system fails, does it shoot, or not shoot?
"

Depends: Do I have a gun pointed at a rapist or does my daughter's friend have a gun pointed at the her?
posted by Mitheral at 7:42 AM on May 7


Like drugs, you can't stop people from getting what they want. legally or illegally.
posted by judson at 7:58 AM on May 7


His opinions clearly don't exist in a vacuum when they are being parroted by NRA members.

My point, which may or may not have survived my typo upon rearranging a sentence to condense references to both the Dave Kopel column and the Esquire article (apologies for that), is that it would be helpful to dial back the degree to which those opinions are parroted here. People want to yell about them, because they are incendiary opinions and this is an important topic. But my five-dollar opinion is that it would be great to refrain from giving those people—if you're one of them, well, no offense but nevertheless—a foundation in the actual thread.

The extremities aren't especially fertile ground for conversation. Maybe ironically, the opposite-end analogy is confiscation. There are people who want all firearms gone tomorrow: pass a law and round 'em up. That's not a straw man. It gets "parroted" in every one of these threads by people who genuinely hold that opinion. I don't think that extremity is productive to engage with, either. Extremists at both ends tend to be uninformed and closed-minded, and their wishes ain't gonna come true. If we're going to have a discussion thread on the topic, it's more productive and more interesting to elevate the conversation above them.

Just my two cents. I think there are valid legal and social issues to discuss around whether it should ever be permissible to protest a burial service, but I wouldn't center that conversation on Fred Phelps. Anyone else is welcome to disagree and find Fred Phelps or Wayne LaPierre super-interesting to talk about. We all paid the same five bucks.
posted by cribcage at 8:40 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


cribcage: but I wouldn't center that conversation on Fred Phelps. Anyone else is welcome to disagree and find Fred Phelps or Wayne LaPierre super-interesting to talk about. We all paid the same five bucks.

Last time I checked, Fred Phelps was marginalized, even among the religious right, while Wayne LaPierre is head of the the largest gun lobbying organization in the world. Sorry, but you don't get to paint the public face of the gun rights movement as some kook that nobody listens to.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:43 AM on May 7 [7 favorites]


If that's what you took away from those three paragraphs, so be it.
posted by cribcage at 8:46 AM on May 7


How else could that be read?
posted by tonycpsu at 8:47 AM on May 7 [5 favorites]


Seriously. You just pulled a whole bunch of false-equivalency bullshit on the "pass a law and round 'em up" people who are not representative of the population as a whole, and the head of the largest and most influential gun lobby (and at least top 5 in lobbying as a whole). There really is no direct comparison in either numbers or influence.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:50 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


Dude, merely ratcheting up the weary condescension another notch is not going to get you over here. You directly related Fred Phelps to Wayne LaPierre. The Westboro Baptist Church is a tiny , largely interrelated group of Pariahs. The NRA is a heavily funded lobbying group that has former vice presidential candidates speaking at their events. How are they the same?
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:51 AM on May 7 [4 favorites]


The extremities aren't especially fertile ground for conversation. Maybe ironically, the opposite-end analogy is confiscation. There are people who want all firearms gone tomorrow: pass a law and round 'em up. That's not a straw man. It gets "parroted" in every one of these threads by people who genuinely hold that opinion. I don't think that extremity is productive to engage with, either.

So countries that actually practice "farmers and strict sport only" gun control are extreme and not productive to engage with?
posted by Talez at 9:04 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


running order squabble fest: How are they the same?

Hey, hold on a second... did we all maybe just forget about the brief papacy of Fred Phelps?
posted by tonycpsu at 9:26 AM on May 7


Last time I checked, Fred Phelps was marginalized ...

Last time I checked, Fred Phelps was dead.
posted by JackFlash at 10:06 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


...Stick it in a desk drawer with it's batteries in it. ...Then open that same desk drawer in a decade.
...
I've done that. There's no problem.


You have to clean and oil your gun regularly unless it's ecased in cosmoline and wrapped in plastic. I don't know how/if the electronics weather regular cleaning. Metal and simple mechanical parts do pretty well though.
And that's really why people still carry pistols that were designed more than 100 years ago. The M1911 is a simple piece of equipment with few moving parts, very reliable, and most importantly, easy to fix in the field.

Seems to me though, everyone (everyone with something to sell I mean) benefits from drama. That is, stoke the controversy, and you can have new coke while people clamor for a return to old coke and everyone makes a buck in the meantime over all the frenzy.

Sorta the Kansas City Shuffle there. I know you know I know you're pulling something, but I'm going to try to buy into it and contend somehow anyway.

Why else would there need to be so much agony over a product that can be 100 years old in design and as, if not more, competative and reliable than anything else on the market?

S'why they keep changing the "design" of cars. Ooh! This one looks like a refrigerator box! And it's mauve! Wow! And it comes with a little flower vase!
So important to the principles efficient of internal combustion. Meanwhile hybrids and solar are marketed the way the tobacco companies warn against the problems associated with smoking. ("Tobacco is wacko! ...if you're a teen)
Ooh, this vaporizor tastes like pineapple!


The fact is, any sort of safety measure, technology based or mechanical, won't address, or will only affect a minor portion of the deaths by firearm in the U.S. There are many less complicated, less expensive safety mechanisms that are already there that could be made part of production.

Additionally, like the vaporizor for tobacco, more people might be willing to buy a smart pistol who were not otherwise willing to buy a handgun on the premise that the technology will keep them safe.
This is absolutely untrue. Good for marketing though, no?
Anyone who's been in the sort of tense foreplay before a firefight will tell you that it's the nervous, uncertain guy you have to watch. The guy who thinks the gun is a problem solver.
He's the one that's going to shoot.
The less of him there are in the world, the better. Someone who buys a firearm should be prepared to take responsibility for it.
We should be spending money on youth violence prevention programs (I've copiously and lavishly laid praise on CeaseFire elsewhere) and public education classes so people know the risks and responsibilities - and more importantly get training - on having a gun.


But we've instead got this thing with the watch? Which makes it all good.

Really, I have no idea why this is a bone of contention for either side. I mean, people willing to make death threats can be immediately discounted as irrational idiots.
Pro-gun folks and pro-control folks on the reasonable side of the pool shouldn't even be disagreeing.
It's like people are looking to fight over the issue just out of habit.

I mean, really, what's the contention here? That doesn't allude to some other reiterated bit of argument, I mean. What's the contention over smart guns?

I think they're more or less useless. But then I think the little plastic toys you can get in vending machines in the front of stores for $.50 are pretty useless too. I'm not going to go out of my way to try to stop someone from selling them though.

Do smart guns stop straw purchasers? No. You can give someone the watch. Straw purchasing is one of the most common means to get a gun illegally. The guy buying the gun would know how to activate the gun for the illegal user.

Young kids accidentally shooting the gun? Well, there's trigger locks. There are safes. There are quick boxes you can put next to or under your bed for quick draws which are lockable (use muscle memory. In fact most of my typos come from `@$^)) Plenty of other methods. All of which are more reliable than preventing a kid from getting their hands on your nifty gun watch.

Cleaning? Well, if you're too careless to unload the weapon. You're probably too careless to take off the watch before you clean it.

Hunting? Yeah, well, same deal. The "smart" user is still the one in control of the weapon. Not much you can do to change that.

Murder? Mostly done between people who know each other. If your spouse picks up the gun in the middle of an argument, odds are they'll have the watch on.


Suicide? Same deal.

And, my info is a bit out of date, but back in 1997, the Police Foundation conducted a survey on firearms ownership and found that most people had revolvers with less than 10 rounds.

Things may have changed, in fact probably will change given the handguns today are higher capacity and higher caliber magazine pistols instead of wheel guns. But the gist is that if everyone got rid of their 'dumb' guns and got 'smart' pistol, they would essentially be getting a pistol of a higher caliber with a higher capacity.

I think low tech laws mandating safe storage coupled with liability penalties would go a longer way towards preventing accidents and making people more serious about taking classes and learning responsibility.

It could be as simple as a small fine and a "driving school" equivalent where you have a hefty fine, but if you go to the public safety firearms training school it doesn't go on your record, your insurance rates won't go up, you get a very minor fine (enough to cover the costs of the space and paying the instructors) etc.

Not at all a hard thing to do. Buuut instead we get this mishegoss.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:39 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Look, I'm cool with guns. They're neat machines. I'm fine with you owning one. Shit, the highest court in the land even agrees with you that you can own them. But these people? Man, fuck these people.

Yeah, I hate to say anything that makes the MeFi echo chamber on this issue any echoier, but I really am with you.

I own firearms and would never trust a government that tried to demand that I not do so. My brother, though his attitudes were similar to mine, was (until recently), by my lights, a little too enthusiastic about firearms, and a little too eager to criticize efforts to regulate them.

Then he lost his job and had to start working retail in a gun shop.

Again, this is a person who was a very enthusiastic--perhaps overly enthusiastic--supporter of the Second Amendment. Now, after four years of working in this gun shop, he still owns firearms, but his view is, and I quote: "Most of the people who come in here have no business owning guns."

A lot of anti-firearm propaganda is just sophistry. Take, for example, the stats that indicate that a gun in a home is more likely to hurt an innocent person than it is to hurt a non-innocent person (e.g. a criminal intruder). This is wielded by anti-firearm types as if it meant that every gun in every home is more likely to have bad effects than good ones. Which is, of course, false. The more competent you are with firearms, the more reasonable, the more responsible, and so on, the less likely your firearm is to do more harm than good. I mean...if you really are so careless with your firearms that they are more likely to hurt innocent people than to protect you, then you absolutely should not own them. If you or someone in your home is likely to commit suicide for bad reasons, then you should not own firearms. And so on. But I and people like me (e.g. my brother) are not more likely to misuse our firearms than to use them properly and effectively. To pretend otherwise is nonsense.

However...there are a whole lot of people who are not like us. My brother, at least, is now convinced, on the basis of a fair amount of experience, that a lot of the people who are most inclined to own guns are also the people who are least qualified to own them.

Needless to say, that's a big problem.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 10:51 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that gets to how I feel about guns too, honestly. Which is why I have no problem with registries, etc. — I know that the vast majority of gun owners are totally responsible, but I'm not opposed to efforts to rein in the irresponsible ones.

"A lot of anti-firearm propaganda is just sophistry. Take, for example, the stats that indicate that a gun in a home is more likely to hurt an innocent person than it is to hurt a non-innocent person (e.g. a criminal intruder). This is wielded by anti-firearm types as if it meant that every gun in every home is more likely to have bad effects than good ones. Which is, of course, false. The more competent you are with firearms, the more reasonable, the more responsible, and so on, the less likely your firearm is to do more harm than good. I mean...if you really are so careless with your firearms that they are more likely to hurt innocent people than to protect you, then you absolutely should not own them. If you or someone in your home is likely to commit suicide for bad reasons, then you should not own firearms. And so on. But I and people like me (e.g. my brother) are not more likely to misuse our firearms than to use them properly and effectively. To pretend otherwise is nonsense. "

I don't think that's purely sophistry — it's a public health argument. The trouble is going from that to solving what you recognize as the implicit problem: There are plenty of people who shouldn't own guns who do, or could get them. How do we restrict that?
posted by klangklangston at 11:41 AM on May 7 [5 favorites]


I don't think that's purely sophistry — it's a public health argument. The trouble is going from that to solving what you recognize as the implicit problem: There are plenty of people who shouldn't own guns who do, or could get them. How do we restrict that?

No, the sophistry is pretending that, because the average gun is more likely to do harm than good, every gun is likely to do more harm that good. Mine aren't. Because I'm skilled, careful and responsible.

But, as for the other point: yeah. That was, of course, my point. It's hard to keep guns out of the wrong hands. Skill tests are one way to do it, but that'll never fly. And even the skill tests involved in getting a CCW in most states are jokes. Put one mag into a silhouette at 7 yards? I can literally do that with my eyes closed... And temperament and judgment are more important than skill...and those things are very hard to test in acceptable ways.

Though I'll add: I'm skeptical of "public health" arguments in this context, because I'm skeptical of the medicalization of everything. Public health arguments aren't crazy in this context...but there is a danger of medical mission creep.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 12:00 PM on May 7


sophistry is pretending that, because the average gun is more likely to do harm than good, every gun is likely to do more harm that good.

Who is making that claim?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:12 PM on May 7


Fists O'Fury: No, the sophistry is pretending that, because the average gun is more likely to do harm than good, every gun is likely to do more harm that good. Mine aren't. Because I'm skilled, careful and responsible.

Messrs. Dunning and Kruger, please pick up the white courtesy phone. Everyone's going to think they're the skilled, careful, and responsible ones, but since we lack the tools to reliably assess who the good gun owners are, who the suicide risks are, etc. I don't see how your argument has any bearing on how society should try to reduce the number of gun deaths. And, by the by, the NRA consistently objects to efforts to institute even rudimentary mandatory safety standards that might help make the average gun owner better-equipped to manage the risks associated with gun ownership.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:15 PM on May 7 [6 favorites]


No, the sophistry is pretending that, because the average gun is more likely to do harm than good, every gun is likely to do more harm that good. Mine aren't. Because I'm skilled, careful and responsible.

Everybody thinks they're a good driver, too.
posted by Etrigan at 12:18 PM on May 7 [6 favorites]


temperament and judgment are more important than skill...and those things are very hard to test in acceptable ways.

That's an intentional outcome of the shut-down gun politics in America. In some countries by contrast, the spouse is asked (in strictest confidence) how they feel about their spouse obtaining a gun, whether their spouse has used violence against them in the past, etc. Common-sense due-diligence stuff like that.
posted by anonymisc at 1:17 PM on May 7


No, the sophistry is pretending that, because the average gun is more likely to do harm than good, every gun is likely to do more harm that good. Mine aren't. Because I'm skilled, careful and responsible.

And this is one of the more frustrating hypocrisies put forth by gun right's advocates: that they must be armed because they are unsure of who is an aggressor or may turn into one; yet the rest of us must put blind faith in the fact that they are competent, level-headed, and able to instantly deduce every single factor in the environment they are in.

I don't know you from Adam (or George, or Michael, or Eric and Dylan). I don't know if you're a certified sharpshooter or just some guy who--as you point out--passed a test a blind person could. I don't know if you're a severely disturbed person who managed to slip through the health care system and get a hold of guns you shouldn't have. I don't know if you think it's OK to arm yourself and chase me down as a criminal because I'm a PoC and my bag of Skittles might be a gun, or I'm playing rap music and "disrespecting" you. I don't know if you have the urge to open fire because I'm Jewish, or Muslim (or look like I am), or atheist. I don't know if you think it's OK to shoot me because I work at an abortion clinic. I don't know if you have a gun to intimidate me as your partner, or if you have a history of domestic or other aggressive violence. I don't know if you think it's OK to shoot me and my constituents (including children) because you feel threatened by my politics. I don't know if you're weirded out by the fact that I'm gay or lesbian or trans* and that made you feel threatened when you found out. I don't know if you can be triggered by something I say or do or a noise I make into lashing out. Nor do I know how skilled or careful or responsible you are. I don't know who judged you on that, and if they were qualified to make that judgement. I don't know if you own a gun legally or not, and whether or not you may commit a crime with it. I don't know if the gun you own is well-maintained and kept safe. I don't know if you're openly displaying a weapon because of your beliefs, to threaten or intimidate me, or because it makes you feel like more of a man or woman. And yet, when we say we feel threatened or say that a "good" guy with a gun is one until they aren't, we get accused of being paranoid and that we shouldn't worry our pretty little heads about it because that's the other kind of gun owner. When we say that going through life thinking of "combat situations" and "tactical thinking" while armed smacks of acute paranoia itself and is more than a little frightening, we're accused of being naive or "soft on crime," despite the complete lack of evidence of the effectiveness of defensive gun use or gun ownership in general on the crime rate.

America is a gun owner's world, the rest of us just live in it.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:24 PM on May 7 [26 favorites]


If you are genuinely concerned about confiscations, I'm not sure what to tell you. I don't know where you live.

New York City, where I don't even have a gun because it would take me two years to go through the damn expensive, restrictive, process. I know you think it's an anomaly, but it's hard to take it as such when you have anti-gun people talking about how reasonable and just NYC's gun laws are.

When we say that going through life thinking of "combat situations" and "tactical thinking" while armed smacks of acute paranoia itself and is more than a little frightening, we're accused of being naive or "soft on crime," despite the complete lack of evidence of the effectiveness of defensive gun use or gun ownership in general on the crime rate.

Carrying a firearm isn't an attempt to lower the overall crime rate. For those who do, it's an attempt to lower their personal crime rate. I'd be really interested in seeing statistics of the amount of certain types of crimes (mugging, rape, etc) successfully committed against gun owners who were carrying their gun at the time of the attempted crime, as opposed to those crimes successfully committed against the general population.
posted by corb at 4:14 PM on May 7


who has a personal crime rate
posted by serif at 8:54 PM on May 7 [4 favorites]


"No, the sophistry is pretending that, because the average gun is more likely to do harm than good, every gun is likely to do more harm that good. Mine aren't. Because I'm skilled, careful and responsible. "

Hmm. I'd argue it's sophistry to put that framing on the actual claim, which is each additional gun, in aggregate, is likely to do more harm than good. There's no way to tell whether that gun is going to you or to some jumped-up flat earther to sight black helicopters.

And the gun lobby very much overlaps with the moron lobby; often, it seems like the primary purpose of the gun lobby is to ensure that morons remain armed.
posted by klangklangston at 9:23 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]


"Carrying a firearm isn't an attempt to lower the overall crime rate. For those who do, it's an attempt to lower their personal crime rate. I'd be really interested in seeing statistics of the amount of certain types of crimes (mugging, rape, etc) successfully committed against gun owners who were carrying their gun at the time of the attempted crime, as opposed to those crimes successfully committed against the general population."

Well, start carpin' to the NRA and Congress — those assholes are why we don't have anything approaching decent gun statistics. (Then remember to value science when the numbers don't comport with your gut feeling or whatever is substituted for reason to justify wanting more guns — I'd wager those who carry guns are more likely to die from gunshot-related injuries than the general populace, though making sure that we define that as "all people carrying firearms" rather than "all people carrying registered firearms" is important.)

And it's also worth noting that violent crime has been on a 20-year decline.

(I'll also note that I've had far more guns pointed at me by police officers than I have by criminals, though it's a non-zero for each of those sets.)
posted by klangklangston at 9:28 PM on May 7 [5 favorites]


Gun-carrying criminals in my city never seem hesitant about shooting at other criminals who are also carrying guns, so I always wonder about this "If people walked around armed all the time then crime would be lower because criminals would be afraid to target people with guns" because that's never been remotely true in any city I've ever lived in.
posted by rtha at 10:00 PM on May 7 [8 favorites]


But no, the hard core gun folks are denying potential customers like me to have a truely safe weapon in my house.

That's one way to look at it—although reading the entirety of your comment, it doesn't sound like you were all that potential of a customer, so to speak. I don't think the discussion around this technology has been helped by the fact that many of the people talking about being "prevented" from buying this smart gun are pretty transparently not, themselves, ever going to buy this gun.


If the gun rights movement keeps insisting that "an armed society is a polite society" and that everybody needs to carry a gun, then they completely lose the privilege to divide people tribally into "gun people" and "non-gun people." If you want everybody to own a gun, then that means everybody owns a gun, including people who disagree with your maximalist interpretation of the 2nd Amendment. What bothers me isn't that gun owners have guns. What bothers me is that some gun owners want to create a tragedy of the commons by brandishing open carry weapons in public spaces where any rational cost-benefit analysis will force me to consider carrying guns too, whether I want to or not. You can't force people into a position where you've scared the bejesus out of people so much that everybody starts carrying guns and insist that gun owners have the right to be this exclusive tribal subculture all at the same time. You can't have it both ways.
posted by jonp72 at 8:54 AM on May 8 [7 favorites]


corb: "...New York City, where I don't even have a gun because it would take me two years to go through the damn expensive, restrictive, process. I know you think it's an anomaly, but it's hard to take it as such when you have anti-gun people talking about how reasonable and just NYC's gun laws are."

Violent crime has dropped consistently in NYC since the 1990's. Last year's homicide rate was the lowest since 1963, which is the first year that reliable statistics were kept.

2013: States with strictest firearm laws have lowest rates of gun deaths, Boston Children’s Hospital study finds

Analysis:
Louisiana had the highest gun-death rate, at 17.9 per 100,000 residents. Hawaii had the lowest, at 2.9 gun deaths per 100,000.

And gun laws and gun deaths were related. The states in the top 25 percent of gun legislation strength had a 42 percent reduction in gun deaths compared with the states in the bottom 25 percent. That number included a 40 percent drop in homicides and a 37 percent drop in suicides.

In absolute terms, the states with the strongest laws had 6.64 fewer deaths per 100,000 residents than the states with the weakest.

Notably, when gun violence was lower, other types of violence did not go up, suggesting people without guns do not kill themselves or others by other means, Fleegler said. In the case of suicide, Fleegler said, studies show that few people who fail at their first suicide attempt will successfully kill themselves later. But if the first attempt involves firearms, it has about an 85 percent likelihood of being lethal. If it involves other means, that rate is about 2 percent.

The analyses took into account state demographics, including population density, firearm ownership, non-firearm violent deaths, and education, poverty, age, sex, race and unemployment of the population.

What it all means

But the study can't prove that the gun laws cause the lower rates of gun violence, as Fleegler is quick to point out. Here's what the researchers do know: States with more gun laws have lower rates of household gun ownership as well as lower rates of gun violence. States with the most laws have gun ownership rates of around 20 percent, while states with the least have rates as high as 70 percent. [Private Gun Ownership in the US (Infographic)]

The relationship could be causal. Perhaps gun laws discourage gun ownership, which in turn discourages violence. (Many studies have found that higher gun ownership is linked to more gun deaths.)

Or perhaps states where gun ownership isn't so popular find it easier to pass gun laws, meaning it's the culture rather than the laws that leads fewer people to buy guns.

Effects of a research freeze
Nor could the study take into account factors like local enforcement of gun laws, loopholes in laws, or guns moving across state borders. The limitations frustrated Dr. Garen Wintemute, a physician in emergency medicine at the University of California, Davis, who wrote a commentary accompanying the article.

"Here, there can be no recommendation at all," Wintemute wrote. But he doesn't blame Fleegler and his colleagues, who did the research without any funding. The researchers "did well with the data available to them," but were limited by the years-long freeze in gun violence research enacted by Congress in the 1990s, which forbids the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from funding research that could be used to promote gun control.

posted by zarq at 9:28 AM on May 8 [7 favorites]


Gun-carrying criminals in my city never seem hesitant about shooting at other criminals who are also carrying guns, so I always wonder about this "If people walked around armed all the time then crime would be lower because criminals would be afraid to target people with guns" because that's never been remotely true in any city I've ever lived in.

This is kind of a problem - not with the way people are communicating, but with the unspoken implications of how people are speaking. We, as humans, speak with all our own cultural context, which is missing when talking to other people. So it's really more like:

"If (law abiding, innocent, respectable, sometimes middle class depending on the person talking) people walked around armed all the time, then crime (against law abiding, innocent, respectable, sometimes middle class) would be lower because criminals would be afraid to target (law abiding, innocent, respectable, sometimes middle class) people with guns (and would instead go for easier targets)" And that's actually a much more defensible claim. Studies have been done that show that criminals tend to target individuals they identify as victims - often identifying them by perceived fearfulness or hesitation in their body language or carriage - fewer of those of which are expressed by individuals carrying guns. It's really hard to measure, though, because the success measure here is usually expresed by the criminal simply bypassing the gun wearer to choose another target.

Also, to be brutally honest, few of the people making these claims care a tinker's damn about criminals shooting other criminals. In fact, some of them probably applaud it, because it lowers the ranks of criminals. It's another reason few people care about the rate of gun deaths, because it links the gun deaths of criminals together with the gun deaths of the innocent.
posted by corb at 1:17 PM on May 8


Yeah, there's a kind of glee some folks have at the prospect of criminals shooting each other. And a huge cultural push by these folks to have anyone shot considered a criminal (hey, that kid was listening to loud rap music!). And where that can't happen, it's considered "an accident". Sorry, there's no such thing as a "accidental" shooting - it's not an accident, it's negligence.

Personally, I own guns and rather enjoy my guns but MAN the general tenor of a lot of gun advocates verges on fetishism and really makes me twitchy. An armed society isn't a polite society, it's a *nervous* society.

I would probably pick up a 'smart' gun if one was on the market. I'd probably keep it under lock and key the same way my stupid guns are. I'm not sure if I would feel safer carrying it, honestly.
posted by rmd1023 at 1:28 PM on May 8 [3 favorites]


""If (law abiding, innocent, respectable, sometimes middle class depending on the person talking) people walked around armed all the time, then crime (against law abiding, innocent, respectable, sometimes middle class) would be lower because criminals would be afraid to target (law abiding, innocent, respectable, sometimes middle class) people with guns (and would instead go for easier targets)" And that's actually a much more defensible claim."

Unfortunately, it's not really defensible with numbers, and is only really "defensible" in the weird Aristotelian sense of a plausible causal chain, but the problem with those is that they depend so much on intuitive leaps that they're not worth very much as arguments.

"Also, to be brutally honest, few of the people making these claims care a tinker's damn about criminals shooting other criminals. In fact, some of them probably applaud it, because it lowers the ranks of criminals. It's another reason few people care about the rate of gun deaths, because it links the gun deaths of criminals together with the gun deaths of the innocent."

Which claims? The claims about arming "law abiding, innocent, respectable, sometimes middle class" people deterring crime?

Otherwise, it's generally gun control advocates you find concerned about e.g. Chicago's gun violence.
posted by klangklangston at 2:08 PM on May 8 [2 favorites]


The “Zuckerberg of guns” could save lives and make millions, but he’ll have to fight the NRA first
posted by homunculus at 6:12 PM on May 8


The Specter of 3D-Printed Guns Rises in Gun-Free Japan
posted by homunculus at 9:34 PM on May 8


Messrs. Dunning and Kruger, please pick up the white courtesy phone. Everyone's going to think they're the skilled, careful, and responsible ones, but since we lack the tools to reliably assess who the good gun owners are, who the suicide risks are, etc. I don't see how your argument has any bearing on how society should try to reduce the number of gun deaths. And, by the by, the NRA consistently objects to efforts to institute even rudimentary mandatory safety standards that might help make the average gun owner better-equipped to manage the risks associated with gun ownership.

Ah, again with the sophistry...

First, some people simply are more skilled and responsible with firearms. You can't take the average numbers and pretend that the average applies to everyone. From the (alleged) fact that the average firearm is more likely to do harm than good, you cannot infer that every firearm is more likely to do harm than good. The differences between gun owners with respect to levels of skill and responsibleness are vast.

And that's the point that really matters with respect to my comment: the average does not--contrary to what anti-firearm-types would prefer to believe--accurately describe people on the ends of the distribution. Which should be no surprise. If it did, it would apply to, e.g., police officers as well.

Second, though appeals to Dunning-Kruger are cute and all, we kind of have to decide whether we're interested in being cute or being right. If we're interested in being right, we should acknowledge that appeals to D-K can't be made in a blanket way. Whether or not we are individually good at telling where we lie on the distribution is another matter. But D-K does *not* tell us that we can never tell how good we are at something. We all know pretty well how good we are at a vast number of things. (E.g. I'm good at my job, but not a very good driver). People on the more responsible end of the distribution in this case probably know they are there. The problem is that people on the less responsible end don't know they're there. That, indeed, is the problem. But, you see, not only did I not deny that, I thought it was as clear as it could be that I was highlighting that very problem.

Appeals to the NRA are, of course, irrelevant. No one is defending the NRA. And I'm not saying that more controls wouldn't be better. So I'm not sure who you are arguing against.

Just because I don't buy the local orthodoxy on this point doesn't mean I support the NRA, nor any such thing.

And this is one of the more frustrating hypocrisies put forth by gun right's advocates: that they must be armed because they are unsure of who is an aggressor or may turn into one; yet the rest of us must put blind faith in the fact that they are competent, level-headed, and able to instantly deduce every single factor in the environment they are in.

Meh, there's a point there--again, the same rough kind of point I was trying to get at, though I get the feeling you think we're disagreeing...--but this is all hyperbole. Not every gun rights advocate thinks that (though MeFi only wants to argue against cartoons in this case), it's not true that most think that they are "unsure who is an aggressor" (hint: you can often tell), etc. But aside from those things, we're getting at a similar point.

Everybody thinks they're a good driver, too.

No they don't. But all we need to have a problem is: people aren't particularly good at telling when they're not good.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 3:15 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


First, some people simply are more skilled and responsible with firearms.

And this can be accurately self-assessed with a low false positive rate?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 5:58 AM on May 9


Violent crime has dropped consistently in NYC since the 1990's. Last year's homicide rate was the lowest since 1963, which is the first year that reliable statistics were kept.

2013: States with strictest firearm laws have lowest rates of gun deaths, Boston Children’s Hospital study finds


As always, let's repeat the mantra: corelation is not causation.

For example: Lousiana could have higher rates of gun death because they are also the nation's highest consumers of mayonnaise. Perhaps the maynnaise gives them higher syrum cholesterol levels leading to less successful resucitation and additionally gives them higher syrum lutein/zeaxanthin concentrations leading to better eyesight making Louisianans to be better/more deadly shots.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:58 AM on May 9


And this can be accurately self-assessed with a low false positive rate?

Skill can. "Can you shoot what you aim at?" I'd personally be fine with requiring people to pass a certain score for accuracy before they were allowed to carry, if the score was reasonable (targets at usual civilian ranges, not military ranges) and the test were free or very low cost with waivers for low-income individuals. They'd be allowed to own, so they could practice at ranges, but not carry until they passed minimum standards.
posted by corb at 7:06 AM on May 9


While that is true, I would just like to point out that the only people who should be examining data in order to evaluate the hypothesis that guns/gun control/ gun laws/ make it crime/murder/suicide more likely are trained social scientists.

These questions are very difficult to evaluate and very easy to get wrong.

For the record, my impression of the consensus seems to be that there is a slight effect of 'guns causing deaths'. Its not huge but its not insignificant. And that everyone thinks John Lott is a hack.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:08 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


Skill != safety
Skill != temperament
posted by Etrigan at 7:16 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


I'd bet a large sum of money that the shooters at Fort Hood had been drilled and drilled in accuracy and good safety practices. How can those things possibly be proxies for "Will not do something incredibly stupid and dangerous, sometimes on purpose and sometimes by accident"?
posted by rtha at 7:28 AM on May 9


Fists O'Fury: Ah, again with the sophistry...

Repeating the word sophistry is not a substitute for an argument.

And that's the point that really matters with respect to my comment: the average does not--contrary to what anti-firearm-types would prefer to believe--accurately describe people on the ends of the distribution.

Please point out where I or anyone else in this thread has done this.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:31 AM on May 9 [2 favorites]


Chris Hayes interviewed Andy Raymond again last night. I have a hunch that the real Andy Raymond is somewhere between the belligerent asshole who called for murdering anti-gun politicians and the much more calm person who talked about the need for compromise last night. It sounds like this guy believes in the Second Amendment and just wants to make a living selling guns, and would like to see a compromise involving the repeal of the New Jersey law and the introduction of smart guns to the U.S. market.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:05 AM on May 9


I'd bet a large sum of money that the shooters at Fort Hood had been drilled and drilled in accuracy and good safety practices. How can those things possibly be proxies for "Will not do something incredibly stupid and dangerous, sometimes on purpose and sometimes by accident"?

I agree with the second part, but you'd lose that money. Each of those guys went to the range maybe once a year, and I'd be willing to bet a medium sum of money that the psychiatrist generally didn't shoot much higher than the absolute minimum score. Soldiers spend way less time shooting than people think.
posted by Etrigan at 8:50 AM on May 9 [2 favorites]


Yeah, but in boot camp alone - if that's the only place they ever fired a gun - they got more drill and practice than most civilians are ever required to get before being issued a carry permit.
posted by rtha at 9:00 AM on May 9


As always, let's repeat the mantra: corelation is not causation.

For example: Lousiana could have higher rates of gun death because they are also the nation's highest consumers of mayonnaise. Perhaps the maynnaise gives them higher syrum cholesterol levels leading to less successful resucitation and additionally gives them higher syrum lutein/zeaxanthin concentrations leading to better eyesight making Louisianans to be better/more deadly shots.


This mantra is not so great. We have a potential mechanism (restrictions and hurdles put up to make gun ownership more difficult) that interacts with one of the major variables involved with people shooting other people with guns (the gun part of the equation). That mechanism correlates with an effect consistently, across the board.

Is more study needed? Sure, it always is. Is the final narrative known at this point? Nope--the laws could be impacting people in a variety of ways. Perhaps the impact is huge in limiting accidental deaths and suicides, but shit at limiting gang violence. Or vice-versa. Are there limits to the effect, if it exists? Sure! I bet there are. Are there confounding effects? Always.

But in no way is your mayonnaise comparison sensible.

"When I wash my hands, fewer people die after I help them give birth!"

...continual verification of initial pattern plus additional research...

"Mankind just discovered the germ theory of disease!"

is actually a thing.

"When I wash my hands, fewer people die after I help them give birth!"

...repeats mantra...

"But I also ate herring for lunch for most of my most successful births. Fate is fickle! We will never know the true answer. I should probably stop looking for meaningful patterns and just go bowling."

is, sadly, also an actual thing. On the internet.
posted by jsturgill at 9:27 AM on May 9


As always, let's repeat the mantra: corelation is not causation.

You know, this doesn't mean that correlation disproves causation, either.
posted by Etrigan at 10:03 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


How can those things possibly be proxies for "Will not do something incredibly stupid and dangerous, sometimes on purpose and sometimes by accident"?

Nothing in the world can possibly guarantee this. You can never, ever, reliably control for idiocy. But the question is - do you want to regulate for the few idiots, or for the majority of not-idiots?
posted by corb at 10:19 AM on May 9


Why should regulations for gun owners be different from regulations for anything else, including other Constitutional rights, written as they are to include even an alleged majority of non-idiots? Most people aren't going to yell "fire" in a crowded theater, and yet outlawing it is not a violation of your 1st Amendment rights. I mean, I get that you personally are on the less-regulation-is-always-better end of the spectrum, but long legal precedent isn't so definitive, so I think the burden is on you to show why gun ownership in particular should be exempt.
posted by rtha at 10:37 AM on May 9 [2 favorites]


Nothing in the world can possibly guarantee this. You can never, ever, reliably control for idiocy. But the question is - do you want to regulate for the few idiots, or for the majority of not-idiots?

Absolutely! Only an idiot would launch nuclear weapons at another country unprovoked, so we don't need to control access to them at all. It would be a wasted effort! Idiots gonna idiot, no matter how you try to control them.

And don't get me started on my car! It buzzes at me when I open the door and my keys are still in the ignition. What a moron car I have! Of course if I open the door and my keys are still in the ignition, I want to lock my keys in my car. I'm no idiot! Why on earth should car manufacturers assume their drivers are idiots? After all, most people aren't idiots, and we all know that non-idiots are infallible, never in a hurry, and never distracted.

This sort of thing crops up in medicine all the time too. Some people think you can use checklists in emergency situations and save thousands of lives by replacing hot-shot doctoring by highly trained professionals with a mechanistic process that ensures the known proper steps are taken and not bypassed in the heat of the moment. As if! You can't control for idiocy, and it's just plain stupid to try to improve a system. It's not like the type-A, best-of-breed kind of students who study for a decade to become doctors ever make mistakes.

I guess what I'm saying is, checklists: bad for you, bad for America.
posted by jsturgill at 10:37 AM on May 9 [4 favorites]


do you want to regulate for the few idiots, or for the majority of not-idiots?

Well, what would you call our entire system of laws and government? I mean, it's not like a majority of average citizens are wandering around breaking into houses and taking other people's stuff. But a relatively small handful do, and so collectively we've decided to create a system that regulates these few idiots.

Really, this is Civilization 101, and so like rtha says, I think the burden of proof is on you to provide evidence or real-world justification that regulating the few idiots with guns is some kind of intolerable burden on the rest of the citizens of the country, gun-owners or not.
posted by soundguy99 at 10:57 AM on May 9 [5 favorites]


Nothing in the world can possibly guarantee this. You can never, ever, reliably control for idiocy. But the question is - do you want to regulate for the few idiots, or for the majority of not-idiots?

... the few idiots, obviously. This cannot possibly be in question, handling the edge cases is what society exists to do.
posted by kafziel at 11:43 AM on May 9 [4 favorites]


You know, this doesn't mean that correlation disproves causation, either.

No, that's true, but it also doesn't prove causation. In this case, the gun death case, one would think that if there was a causal effect of the presence of a gun there would be a correllary between gun ownership and gun deaths, there is not. LA ranks in the teens for percentage of homes with guns, but tops in deaths. To reach the top in deaths you need several factors, shootings per capita obviously; quality of healthcare in dealing with shootings; general health of the shooting victims leading to more successful recovery; types of guns on the street; crime reduction programming; and so forth. These factors can be the clearly altered by things like better education, better public health, better policing, better gang interdiction, etc. Because of the number of variables, removing the number of guns alone does not change the picture as much as one would hope, otherwise DC would be at the bottom of the gun death list (it isn't).

But in no way is your mayonnaise comparison sensible.

No, it was an intentionally absurd example meant to convey that a large number of variables could change the outcome of the statistics. This is not as clearly testable as the germ theory of disease.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:50 AM on May 9


"Nothing in the world can possibly guarantee this. You can never, ever, reliably control for idiocy. But the question is - do you want to regulate for the few idiots, or for the majority of not-idiots?"

Uh, if the idiots could kill me but the non-idiots aren't likely to, I'd say regulate for the idiots.
posted by klangklangston at 11:54 AM on May 9 [4 favorites]


The 10th Regiment of Foot: Because of the number of variables, removing the number of guns alone does not change the picture as much as one would hope, otherwise DC would be at the bottom of the gun death list (it isn't).

Not as much as one would hope, but credible studies do show an effect, even controlling for those other variables.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:09 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


No, it was an intentionally absurd example meant to convey that a large number of variables could change the outcome of the statistics. This is not as clearly testable as the germ theory of disease.

It read more like you throwing up your hands and saying study of patterns is meaningless because coincidence, so let's ignore all evidence that gun control/lack thereof is a factor. There is a very strong case that gun control has an effect on gun violence, with evidence coming from many different countries, many American states, and many American cities, over many decades. Real scientists using real analytical tools coming at the problem from many different angles find more of a link than with, say, mayonnaise.

That doesn't mean that there aren't other real scientists who disagree, but the preponderance of evidence seems to suggest there is a link. It doesn't have anything to say about the constitution or what we should do with that information, but to talk down to others and accuse them of mistaking correlation for causation when there is so much good research out there suggesting otherwise is a bit much.
posted by jsturgill at 1:12 PM on May 9 [6 favorites]


corb: " Nothing in the world can possibly guarantee this. You can never, ever, reliably control for idiocy. But the question is - do you want to regulate for the few idiots, or for the majority of not-idiots?"

Personally, I'd rather err on the side of caution when it comes to making it easier for people to kill others. I think owning a gun should be a privilege. Not an automatic right. And that ownership should include required training and certification in firearm safety and perhaps even a psych eval. So, to answer your question, I think "the few idiots." Safety first.

But. There is a maxim which is drilled into law school students: "Hard cases make bad laws." What this means is that laws or judicial decisions passed in response to extreme incidents tend to impose restrictions on the general population that may be unnecessary. The converse of this is "Bad laws make hard cases," thus creating a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy: bad laws may create the very problems they seek to alleviate.

Perhaps that's also worth keeping in mind.
posted by zarq at 1:31 PM on May 9 [3 favorites]


Nothing in the world can possibly guarantee this. You can never, ever, reliably control for idiocy.

What a facile statement. Of course you can. This is a fundamental principle in systems design and risk mitigation. Human error is a known risk. Misuse is a known risk. You can and should mitigate for known risks.

In risk analysis, nothing is 100% guaranteed. Nothing. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't reduce risk as much as possible.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:49 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


But the question is - do you want to regulate for the few idiots, or for the majority of not-idiots?"

Incidentally, your 'few idiots' killed over 12,000 people last year in the US alone. That doesn't even take into account injuries.

You're fooling yourself if you think that the people who misuse guns are a miniscule outlier group.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:55 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


The population of the United States is approximately 313.9 million. 12,000 out of 313.9 million - even assuming that these were homicides, which is far from a given - is .00038 of the population. That is, indeed, a miniscule outlier.
posted by corb at 12:19 AM on May 10


zarq: "Violent crime has dropped consistently in NYC since the 1990's. Last year's homicide rate was the lowest since 1963, which is the first year that reliable statistics were kept.
"

Violent crime has generally been dropping across all of the US since the 90s. I'm a fan of the access to abortion and banning of leaded gas theories explaining the drop in violent crimes myself.
posted by Mitheral at 1:08 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]


and the test were free or very low cost with waivers for low-income individuals

We have a lot of constitutional rights that aren't subsidized. Until there's a lift to the polls and back for everyone who needs it, I'm ok with requiring people to pay the cost to arm themselves. If a private organization wants to take up a collection and provide gun scholarships, let them. But why on earth would taxpayers have to cover those costs?
posted by Salamandrous at 5:09 PM on May 10 [2 favorites]


"The population of the United States is approximately 313.9 million. 12,000 out of 313.9 million - even assuming that these were homicides, which is far from a given - is .00038 of the population. That is, indeed, a miniscule outlier.

Let's compare it to something general, like traffic fatalities.

In 2012, in the US, there were about 33,780 with 10,322 from drunk driving. There are about 196,165,666 licensed drivers in the US. But only about 75,336,000 own guns. So 0.00017220138819 fatalities per driver versus 0.00159286396942 per gun owner. That's an order of magnitude.

I will grant that both are much, much lower than, say, heart disease, which kills 600,000 each year.
posted by klangklangston at 8:47 PM on May 10 [5 favorites]


(Oh, and I don't wanna give an impression of false precision — those numbers are probably good at best for three significant digits.)
posted by klangklangston at 9:07 PM on May 10


Patent Application for Smart Gun Includes Remote Kill Switch.
posted by corb at 12:13 PM on May 19


You liked the tinfoil hat. But you'll love the tinfoil gun cozy.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:06 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


"Patent Application for Smart Gun Includes Remote Kill Switch."

No, it doesn't. That guy's an idiot. The "wake and response" remote device is the watch that people would wear to make the gun function, i.e. the exact same thing that we've been talking about all along.
posted by klangklangston at 3:13 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Oh, and just for shits and giggles, if you want to see that in fact, pro-gun people do smack each other down when they're being idiots, here's some infighting in an off-the-beaten-path space. (Warning: their language is not great, but it's fascinating to watch pro-concealed carry and pro-open carry square off.)
posted by corb at 1:26 PM on May 20


To me this bullying and “in-your-face” tactics is no different than what we’ve seen over the past few years from gays and transsexuals who want to cram their flamboyant lifestyle choices down our throats, so to speak.

Yeah, clearly these are the true scotsmen.
posted by kafziel at 7:08 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Always with the throats and the cramming...
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:28 PM on May 20 [4 favorites]


Oh, crazy as the day is long. I just thought people might not be exposed to these kind of internal wars and might be amused.
posted by corb at 7:19 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]


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