Friday, May 23, 2014

Smart guns and how to deal with them

Personally I think we're a long way from any sort of reliable smart gun no matter what the promoters of such think.   To prove the point here's what I recommend:  Once every police department is required to use ONLY smart weapons and has completely converted - then maybe we can require us normal folks.

New Jersey - already a police state in many ways has a law that is down right scary.

According to this statute, once “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,” a process in set in motion which, within 29 months or less, will outlaw the sale of all ordinary handguns in New Jersey.
Seriously - BAD.  How fast to you think they can ramp up production of a new gun - I think 29 months is very unrealistic.  Your talking bout significant chances to entire product lines - so, 29 months later they either DELAY, or the shelves are empty.   I think they're hoping for empty, put all those pesky dealers out of business.

If you think you've got a design that can' be hacked it's only because you aren't trying (you have been paying attention to the whole NSA thing right?)  If I were the government I'd love it if everyone had RFID controlled guns.  RFID is an incredibly weak signal - jamming would be simple.  Make every gun in a five mile radius unusable - might need a good size transmitter, more than you'd want to carry on a person - but easily portable.  For closer encounters - something the size of a pager would probably work just fine.   I'd say about a week after the cops have it, the bag guys will have it - maybe sooner.  Knowing this, if you were a cop would you trust your life to a gun with RFID?  Yeah, me either.    What about accidental interference with say WiFi or other signals. Then there's the power issue - with the wrist band, or ring needs a battery or the gun does - how often have you grabbed a flashlight only to discover the batteries are dead?

How about finger print scanners?   - how often have you seen these things FAIL.  They're delicate, touchy and unreliable - eventually they'll become more reliable.  But they're still easy to fool.  They also have the power issue.

In practice, the gun will almost always need a power source, to keep the gun from functioning the normal state need to be SAFE (will not fire) until the appropriate interaction takes place, then something needs to change the operating condition to FIRE. That's a difficult thing to do with out some sort of electronic control - which take power.

Almost any system that is reliable for the owner will be easy to hack - eliminating the advantage of "keeping them out of the hands of bad guys" - so while it might keep them from hurting the kids in the family, a modicum of common sense and a bit of diligence will do the same job.  So why?  The only reason I can see that has any actual validity is to keep your gun from being used against you.  Before the bad guy has a chance to bypass the security - more of an issue for cops than the rest of us. But still, it would be nice - if you could make it work 100% of the time and there was no way to interfere with it with out for example taking the gun apart.  I just don't buy for a minute that we're even close to such a solution.

Ultimately I like the "idea" of a smart gun, we're just a very long way from being able to build something that someone with more resources (government) or sufficient incentive (bad guys) can't get around.   So we're at best looking to make life more difficult, expensive and dangerous for those of us who KNOW we need to be responsible for ourselves.  Calling 911 is not an option when someone is treating a loved one, and anyone who trusts the government either hasn't read any history or they weren't paying attention.

So how do we deal with them - I'd like to see petitions go to the manufacturers stating that We The People will boycott any manufacturer who builds one, and any store that sells one.   If there's no market, maybe they'll stop spending time and money on the issue.  In my dreams we'd make it clear to the politicians that not one cent of tax money (or recently created fiat currency) should be used for R&D on this issue.

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