Armatix announced they would be marketing their smart guns towards law enforcement due to the overwhelmingly negative reaction by the gun buying public. I don’t think they’ll find much success in this market, either. Most people not “in the know” about firearms think our opposition to this technology is unwarranted. There are a litany of reasons to oppose smart guns. I think they should be offered freely and given a chance to fail just like any other product. However, I don’t think there should be legislation that makes it illegal to own anything other than a smart gun, which is what a law in New Jersey proposes for its residents. According to a law passed in 2002, once smart guns go on sale anywhere in the country, the only firearms one may purchase or own in the state, must be smart guns.
This law aside, I’m going to elaborate on why smart gun technology should not be seriously considered for anything outside of plinking or sports shooting. In order to activate the firearm, you must be in possession of a watch that is paired to the gun. Once the watch is within an acceptable proximity of the gun, it will activate and become usable. If the gun is wrestled away from the user’s hands, it will deactivate. Sounds great on the surface, right? Nevertheless, once you delve deeper into the serious concerns the gun becomes entirely undesirable.
These smart guns have delicate electronics inside which is why they’re only offered in .22 models. That’s hardly a self-defense round. No civilian or law enforcement officer would even consider carrying a .22 into a potentially dangerous situation. People would only start taking these guns seriously if they were chambered in serious self-defense calibers such as the 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP.
Service handguns go through vigorous testing over a period of decades. I personally don’t carry any firearm that hasn’t been in use for extended periods of time by either law enforcement or military organizations. Pistols offered by Glock and Beretta are hardy weapons that have been put through the most hellish test conditions and still flawlessly operated. Glocks in particular can be buried in the sand, submerged in muddy water and even thrown out of airplanes and still fire.
If smart guns can’t meet these standards, nobody will consider them a serious self-defense tool. The 1911 pistol is a prime example. It was put into service in the US Army in the year 1911 and lasted until the mid to late 1980’s until it was replaced by the Beretta M9. Some special forces and SWAT teams still prefer this pistol as their sidearm despite the design being over a century old. It’s what I prefer to carry.
There are some concerns about the signal between the watch and the gun being jammed by criminals smart enough to bring a hacking device of some sort or by the government. Imagine another situation similar to the Bostom Bombing incident. If there were a fugitive on the loose, the government could fly a drone over a neighborhood and disable all the guns, leaving the occupants defenseless while they send in SWAT teams.
Further, what if the owner of the handgun finds themselves disabled and may need to rely on family or friends to fire the weapon? That scenario would prove to be catastrophic in a life and death situation. Some other designs for smart guns are floating around that remove the watch from the equation and rely on biometrics such as fingerprint recognition. There is a problem with this functionality, too. Dirty hands or bloody hands could prevent the gun from unlocking. Moreover, could one authorize multiple users in case of the example I provided earlier of the primary user being rendered disabled?
Gun owners don’t oppose smart gun technology just because we don’t like it. We have valid reasons and we have more insight than those looking in from the outside.