I have listened to, read about, and commented on Fascitelli for almost 10 years*. I know enough about him that I think he’s probably a nice guy. I don’t think he is stupid either. He has changed his stance toward gun control and gotten a lot smarter about things (read the links below* and see how his attitude has changed over the years). But this indicates he has some other problem:
They’ve been working on Philadelphia-based Lodestar for a couple of years now. The duo recruited Ginger Chandler, a former Remington executive, to design the product, which, Fascitelli says, will be a gun accompanied by an RFID tag (some argue for fingerprint technology). Smart guns reached a turning point this summer, when New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy reformed that state’s law to allow more research and development of smart guns.
Lodestar, which raised $250,000, is now looking for an additional $3 million to finish its prototype. Its three-person payroll is about $10,000 a month while the team waits for the shift in the political landscape to catch funders’ interest. They estimate potential sales at $1 billion, or about 40% of the 7-million-unit handgun market.
Can he possibly believe their product has a realistic chance at 40% of the handgun market? I don’t think so. Perhaps the author of the article twisted his words, I could believe that. I’ve been misquoted enough that I can give him the benefit of the doubt here. Otherwise one has to conclude he is lying and/or delusional. In the past there have been a number of hints this was true but in recent years he seems to have gotten that pretty much under control.
* Here is a partial list of my posts quoting or referring to him:
The major gun safety groups like Brady have done very little to promote a technology approach. … This we “believe” is because of a small group of naïve well-heeled idealists on the left don’t want a safer gun to be the solution to gun violence. The idealists on the left, who supported the New Jersey mandate, and right have prevented a pragmatic solution for a long time.
Fascitelli has been president of Washington Ceasefire and I don’t think I have ever said anything nice about him in public before. And that goes back at least nine years.
But recently I listened to a podcast where he was interviewed and claimed that murder of a gun control advocate was unlikely to have been committed by a gun rights advocate. Paraphrasing, he said, “They have a code. They respect and obey the law. I don’t think this was done by one of them.” This is a recognition of what we have been saying for decades, “If gun owners were as bad as the political left claims anti-gun activists would have all been shot years ago.”
And now, here, we have Fascitelli saying “smart gun technology” has been prevented, in part, by anti-gun activists. That is an insightful and almost certainly correct observation about a failure of “his people”. I think I could almost sit down with him over lunch and chat without either of us feeling the other was evil incarnate.—Joe]
The person who made me aware of the poll was Ralph Fascitelli, co-founder of LodeStar Firearms, a new smart-gun company. LodeStar has engaged the legendary German gun designer Ernst Mauch to develop a 9-millimeter smart pistol, which will use a radio frequency to connect gun to owner.
There are at least three other issues which will ensure the failure of Fascitell’s company.
The first is Fascitell has long been an advocate for limiting magazine capacity to no more than ten rounds. His company is targeting, in part, law enforcement. Even if they could get over the many reliability hurdles pointed out by Urquhart, law enforcement is not going have much interest in a low capacity handgun.
The second is gun sellers know that if they put one of these guns on the shelf for sale it will trigger New Jersey’s law that within three years any gun sold in the state will have to have “smart gun” technology before it can be sold. They claim this law will be repealed in early 2018. But that isn’t going to help. Everyone with two brain cells to rub together knows that there will be several other states, probably including New Jersey, which will pass similar laws if such a gun had even a fraction of a percent of the market share
The third is that many gun control people don’t want guns to be less likely to be used by your kids or unusable if taken from you during a self-defense situation. They want people to have that fear. They want people will be less likely to purchase a gun and, if purchased, less likely to take it out of the safe. It’s the same argument used by some people against sex education. That argument goes, “It good that young people are afraid they will have unplanned pregnancy and/or catch a life threatening disease. This will help prevent them from having sex, period.”
While their are some applications where “smart guns” won’t be serious impediment to their use, the number one reason people, and the only reason law enforcement purchase guns, is for self protection. There hasn’t been a “smart gun” design concept yet that doesn’t make the gun far less desirable that a standard gun. Building a product that is less desirable and more expensive than established competitors is not a winning strategy.
I have to conclude Fascitelli is delusional and/or has an evil plan of some sort. Being on the Board of Washington Ceasefire causes me to be inclined toward both.—Joe]
As over 90% of gun violence is committed by men, in order for a man to purchase a gun, he must first get a waiver from his current wife, plus his most recent ex-wife, or any woman with whom he is currently in a relationship (if he’s gay, he must get the waiver from his male spouse/partner). This law has greatly reduced most spousal/domestic gun murders in Canada.
• All automatic and semi-automatic guns are banned.
• No gun or clip can hold more than 6 bullets.
• To activate a gun for it to be used, the trigger must recognize the fingerprint of its registered owner. This will eliminate most crimes committed with a gun as 80% of these crimes are done with a stolen gun.
• One’s guns must be stored at a licensed gun club or government-regulated gun storage facility. Believing that having a gun in your home provides you with protection is an American myth. People who die from a home invasion make up a sad but minuscule .04% of all gun murders in the US. And over a third of them are killed by their own gun that the criminal has either stolen or wrestled from them.
Michael Moore Facebook post on October 4, 2017
[Other than recognizing that Moore is out of touch with the real world of facts the important takeaway is that you should never let anyone get away with telling you that no one wants to take your guns.—Joe]
People who demand all guns must be “smart” must fall into one or more of the following categories:
They are evil and are deliberately attempting to raise the price and restrict the exercise of specific enumerated rights.
They have intellectual capacity asymptotically approaching that of a fence post.
They believe technology is some sort of magic that can do anything once someone figures out the proper technological incantation. They cannot comprehend there are certain things that are physically, or for all practical purposes, impossible. Engineers/scientists (I have been both) are able to things which is indistinguishable from magic to the general population. This does not mean they do not have very real and impenetrable boundaries they must operate within.
Such people should be politely informed they are wrong, mocked, scorned, and prosecuted. In that order.
The chances of meaningful gun legislation either nationally or in more than a handful of states is remote for the foreseeable future. Nor can anyone expect a national public health campaign comparable to the “Friends Don’t Let Friends, Drive Drunk” government effort that played a key role in reducing drunk driving deaths by 50% over the past 30 years.
Fascitelli compares gun ownership to drunk drivers? Yes, that’s really what he thinks of you.
So, he wants to talk about accidental death reduction over the last 30+ years? Okay, I’m game. Here is the data I downloaded from the CDC on accidental firearm deaths.
From 1985 to 2015 the total number deaths dropped from 1649 to 489. A decrease of over 70%. And if we look at the death rate instead of total deaths it went from 0.69 to 0.15 per 100,000. That’s a drop of over 78%. And that’s without a government program.
I can’t say that it is cause and effect but the NRA Eddie Eagle program (gun safety for children of any age from pre-school through third grade) was developed in 1988. And there was a big push for more NRA firearms instructors in the mid 1990s.
But don’t expect Fascitelli to want to talk about the successes of the private sector or gun organizations. It’s not about safety. It’s about government control.—Joe]
Upshot: it’s voluntary…. with an implied *for now attached. Leave it to the government to call for a way to make a perfectly reliable, simple, mechanical system, and apply a high-tech solution to a social problem that a) won’t fix the problem, b) discriminates against the poor, c) will make good systems less reliable, d) etc [insert all the usual litany of problems with this specific tech here]
As I said in January, these commonsense steps are not going to prevent every tragedy, but what if they prevented even one?
This is incredibly simple minded thinking. There are tradeoffs involved in nearly everything. In this case the tradeoffs include:
How many people will be unable to save innocent lives because the gun failed to fire when it was required?
How many people will be unable to purchase a gun to save innocent lives because of the increased cost?
How many lives could be saved if the resources put into “smart gun” technology were instead spent on safety training?
I think it is very telling President Obama and his anti-freedom cohorts haven’t proposed increased gun safety instruction. This demonstrates this isn’t about safety. This is about increasing the price of guns and making firearms less user friendly.
My name Is Yachdav. I’m part of an Israeli team that developed a unique gun lock called ZORE X.
Our bullet shaped lock prevents the gun from being charged and when unlocked it ejects by just charging the gun. It also notifies the gun owner if someone tampers with their gun. Is this something you’d write / post about? We believe ZORE X will save many lives by both preventing unauthorized use of guns and at the same time making guns more accessible for their gun owners when they need them.
I’m attaching some material about us. I’d be happy to send you more information about ZORE if you’d like.
Thank you very much,
I watched the video and was bit annoyed with the falling brass without primers from the simulated gunfire but my only real concern was battery life and how they handle the dead battery situation. I read their FAQ and found:
What if my battery runs out, will my gun disable with no way of opening it?
Your battery will last for more than a year.
Three months before your battery drains, ZØRE will send you notifications, reminding you to change your battery.
One month before the battery drains, when unlocking ZØRE, it will not allow you to re-lock without changing the battery.
In addition, you are able to set your ZØRE to open automatically before draining out.
If your battery drains out nonetheless, you are able to connect an external battery to give it power, enabling you to dial your code and open it.
What if someone removes the battery from my ZORE?
That is impossible – as long as your gun is locked, no one can remove the battery from your ZORE. The battery is only accessible when ZORE is open. The battery is accessible only when ZØRE is open. Therefore, when your gun is locked, no one can take the battery out of your ZØRE.
All my concerns about “smart guns” (this isn’t really a smart gun, but it achieves some of the worthy goals of them) were well addressed except for the potential to have them become government mandated. I liked the phone app that tells you if someone has moved (probably accelerometer based, it doesn’t use GPS) your gun. The app also allows you to unlock the gun remotely and helps you train to get to your gun and unlock it quickly.
It would appear to be a good solution for many situations.
Update: I received another email after they read my blog post above. Here is most of the email:
It is important for me to say that the option of government mandating it is something we gave a lot of thought to.
We wanted to make sure there’s no [way] to force anyone to use it – that’s how we came to the conclusion we must separate the lock from the gun itself (or from the magazine – anything that’s involved in actually using the gun).
We’re a company that strongly believes in freedom – and ZORE X’s market is people who make the choice of locking their gun, enabling them a reliable and fast to remove solution. For those who don’t lock their gun – ZORE X is irrelevant. We are making a notification-only device that might be relevant for some of those people – but we intentionally avoided making a products that could [not] bring with it any type of legislation.
Ry sent me an email with a link to this collection of gun cartoons. A few are duplicates of my collection but there a bunch of new ones as well. I’m going to be posting the ones I’m fairly certain are new to this blog starting with:
Not-so-smart? So perhaps our brainiac cartoonist could answer the following questions:
What happens when the batteries go dead when the gun owner is in a life or death situation needing the gun to save their life?
What happens when the gun is in the opposite hand from the watch, wrist-band, or hand with the RFID embedded chip which is occupied holding their child’s hand or a phone with which they are trying to call the police while in a life or death situation?
What happens when the bad guy has a transmitter broadcasting on the same frequency as the RFID chip and the gun owner is in a life or death situation?
Why do no law enforcement organization or military use this technology on their guns?
The answers are:
The gun owner and perhaps other innocent life die because of a dead battery.
The gun owner and perhaps other innocent life die because the RFID chip is out of range.
The gun owner and perhaps other innocent life die because the RFID chip is blocked from authorizing the gun to shoot.
Because they are smart enough to know the technology will put them and other innocent life at risk.
And furthermore the NRA and most gun owners don’t have a problem with the existence of “smart guns”. They have a problem with and correctly do object to the mandating of “smart-guns” on Second Amendment grounds.
“Smart guns” aren’t smart except in some very limited circumstances. This cartoonist isn’t very smart and should seek help for their prejudice.
Politics aside, there seem to be two major hurdles facing smart guns – funding for development and the potential prohibitive cost of integrating the safety technology. Armatix’s iP1, for example, is a .22-caliber pistol that retails at $1800, more than four times the cost of a regular small caliber pistol.
I think there are a lot more than two “major hurdles”. Examples include reliability, target market, and market acceptance.
The title is “A Review of Gun Safety Technologies”. I haven’t found anything really new to me in it yet. And there is certainly no technology that I would be comfortable having a government mandate even if I didn’t have some strong free market principles to overcome.
Also, I had one person on a Smart Gun Symposium panel request I remove their name from my blog. It was very polite and they indicated they wished that we remain in contact in regards to technical issues with the technology so I complied with their request.
This needs to be enforced and standard on all guns. Not only does it make sure we don’t have unintentional shootings with children, but also completely eliminates gun resales. Standardizing this technology and reinforcing background checks is part of the way to cure American’s gun problem.
[The stupid is strong with this one. Every single thing he said is wrong.
As long as there exist functional guns and children it will be possible and probable there will be unintentional shootings with children involved.
How can it possibly eliminate gun resale any more than it would original sales? Apparently he is of the belief there is some sort of pairing between the original owner and the gun such that the bond can never be broken.
It appears he equates “standardization” with mandating. These are two completely different things.
I have no idea what he means by “reinforcing background checks”. I know how to reinforce a physical structure or even an argument or theory.
His last statement assumes facts not in evidence as well as being nonsensical. He must first demonstrate American has a “gun problem” then he must articulate the problem in a manner in which there exists the possibility of multiple solutions.
But what do you expect from an anti-gun person? Ignorance and stupidity is their currency.—Joe]
I’m going to now review the technologies and give you my semi-expert opinion on the technological future of smart guns.
Keep in mind there are two primary numbers associated with biometrics. False acceptance of an authorized user and false denial of an authorized use. The device can almost always be adjusted such that as one type of failure is decreased the other increases. Usually a single number is given such that these two failure rates are equal. But this might not be the appropriate thing to do for a gun. You might be comfortable with a one attempt out of 1000 failing to fire when a second attempt can be made a tenth of a second later when you use your gun primarily for four legged pest control. But you want the rate to be one out of 100000 when little Johnny found the gun while you were in the back yard working in the garden.
The first technology I want to discuss is the one from the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). I have corresponded with a representative from NJIT who has been working on a “smart gun” for 14 years. They call it “Dynamic Grip Recognition”. The grip of the gun contains pressure sensors which authenticate the grip for every shot. Here is what I believe is their latest video describing the current status of their project:
After 14 years they still don’t have something would be accepted by the police for self-defense. They emphasis the potential to reduce children shooting a gun without authorization. They do not claim the existing technology will prevent a smart gun from being fired by someone who has just taken your gun away from you in a struggle. They do not claim the technology cannot be defeated by a thief with tools from your local hardware store.
They do not claim the technology is ready for commercialization. They want to build the next generation with more and better sensors in the grip.
From reading about their technology, my discussion with Allied Biometrix and the representative from NJIT it is clear they haven’t done the testing really needed. I’ll get into that in a moment, but first let me cover the testing which that probably have done a decent job on.
They have done testing of shooters under stress. It’s not real world with real bullets being fired at the person with the smart gun but with what knowledge I have of their algorithm and their test results I believe has a good chance of not being an issue.
They have done testing with shooters wearing “police issue needle stick gloves”. There was no difference in the results.
They have done testing with children versus police officers. Children, due to their smaller hands, are extremely unlikely to be able to fire gun that has been authorized for use someone with significantly larger hands.
What I do not believe they have done is compare the failure rate for children attempting to fire a gun which has been authenticated for adults with small hands. I remember that I was wearing the same size shoes as my mom when I was in the sixth grade. I expect my hands were just as large as hers too. And Mom was only slightly below average size for a Caucasian woman. What would be the crossover point for hand size of an above average male child and a small Asian woman? I’m guessing it could be 10 years old or younger.
The biometric data they have collected is from a very small number of adults. I asked about but did not receive a direct answer as to whether this data included a gun authenticate for the shooter firing in four different manners:
Right handed with left hand supporting.
Left handed with right hand supporting.
I did not receive any data on the failure rates as the number of authenticated shooters for a given gun is increased. I suspect these tests have not been done. As the number of authenticated shooters in increased and the number of grips is increased the failure rate for falsely authenticating someone to fire the gun may not a simple factor of the number of authenticated grips. It may much greater than that. This will be catastrophic for the acceptance of this technology.
For example, suppose the false authorization rate for gun programmed to accept one grip for one person is that one out of 10,000 random people*. If two people are authenticated, each with four different grips as noted above then it is reasonable to expect that failure rate will be at least eight times worse. This would be one out of 1,250 for each of these random shooters just attempting one natural grip. If they tried each of the four different grip styles it would be reduced by another factor of four bring the total factor to 32. Which yields odds on the order of one out of 312. This is the best that can be expected. My experience with biometrics leads me to believe that it won’t be a simple factor. It is more likely to be more likely to be something approaching an exponential. If it were an exponent of 2.5 raised to the 32nd power, instead of 1 raised to the 32nd power, then we have over a 50% failure rate.
In conventional use of biometrics this dramatic increase in failure rate with many people authorized for access to a given resource (building, computer, gun, etc.) is handled in a different way than is possible for a defensive gun. Biometrics in a many user environment are conventionally used for identity verification, not identification. That is, I claim I am Joe Huffman and my voice is used to confirm this. How would you do this with a gun in a way that couldn’t easily be defeated by a child? A switch for “shooter one, two, or three” followed up by gripping the gun doesn’t really work. The child will try all the switch settings.
It is a fair to point out that fingerprints are used to uniquely identify people. But “dynamic grip recognition” is far, far different than a fingerprint. Fingerprints are constant with time, contain a lot more information than grip patterns, and are not nearly as subject to deliberate attempts to defeat the technology as grip patterns are.
I have another email to NJIT about how fast their technology does the authentication. Will it limit the rate of fire to something below the mechanics of the gun? If so then this is a problem. I know people that out shoot their gun. Adding any delay beyond that of the gun is not acceptable.
My expectation is that dynamic grip recognition will never meet their goal of one error in 10,000 for false acceptance when you have someone deliberately attempting to defeat it. A random person using their natural grip is far different case from this and they can’t even achieve that goal now. As multiple users, multiple grips, and people deliberately trying to defeat it I will be surprised if they can do better than a combined false acceptance and false rejection rate better than one out of ten. Even one out of 100 is probably insufficient for it to be acceptable in the marketplace and I think this is unachievable.
I think that it can work for certain cases such as prevention of child accidents. If the gun is authorized for people with large hands then small hands will be very unlikely to defeat it. But if the adult has very small hands then the protection from child use will become minimal.
With such limited use cases any attempt to legally mandate this technology will be met with significant resistance in both the legislature and the courts.
* They do not currently claim such rates. They hope to achieving this with the next generation version so this is being quite conservative.
Margot Hirsch President, Smart Tech Challenges Foundation
Hirsch didn’t really say a lot but what she did say demonstrated she was generally knowledgeable about the technology. The only thing I thought she was off base on was she thought smart guns would protect against thieves. The other thing of note which she said was that the market for this technology were families.
The following information is from the bio given to participants:
Margot Hirsch is the President of the Smart Tech Challenges Foundation (STCF) a non-profit focused on reducing gun violence through the technology and innovation. The STCF was formed in 2013 with the mission of bypassing the political gridlock and polarizing debate around gun control versus person freedoms, by spurring innovation in technologies that serve to reduce firearm-related injuries and death. By awarding grants directly to innovators through the first-of-its-kind Smart Tech for Firearms Challenge, Margot is on the leading edge of inventive challenge philanthropy, finding market-based, entrepreneurial solutions to a social problem that claims over 30,000 American lives annually. She is responsible for the overall strategic direction of the foundation, running operations, board development and fundraising.
Prior to joining STCF, Margot was Regional Vice President of Blackboard, Inc. where she led international sales for the Connect division of Blackboard, a leading provider of learning solutions to the education market. With over 25 years of sales and business development in the technology industry, Margo has held business development and sales management roles at Smartforce/Skilsoft, eProsper, Angel Investors, Global Village and American Express.
More information about the organization and some of the people and technology they have given grants to can be found on their web site.
Mark Burles Vice President, Penn Schoen Berland
Burles presented polling data from a recent survey they had done for Washington CeaseFire. One should be careful using their data. From their website:
What We Do
How We Do It
DEFINE YOUR COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE
We measure a brand’s strength in context with its competitors to identify its assets, liabilities, & unique niche in the marketplace relative to the competition.
FIND YOUR “BASE” & “SWING” AUDIENCES
Our model not only identifies a brand’s loyal customer base, but also uncovers persuadable consumer segments who can be taken from competitors to grow the brand.
CRAFT A WINNING MESSAGE
PSB’s proprietary message development process delivers a clear roadmap of what to say, how to say it, and to whom to say it.
DELIVER A PERSUASIVE CAMPAIGN
In this instance their customer is Washington CeaseFire.
That said this is the data Burles presented to the audience:
Online poll of 800 respondents, representative of the US General Population. Margin of error is +/- 3.46 overall and larger for subgroups.
Is there currently a gun in your house (either owned by you or by someone else who lives with you)? Definition: Smart guns are guns that can only be operated/fired by the owner or per designated individual due to technology or other constraints.
Would you consider swapping the guns currently in your home for new, safer “smart guns” when they come on the market?
How strongly do you agree or disagree that guns dealers should be allowed to sell “smart guns”?
How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Once the technology is commercially available, there should be a law saying that all firearms sold must be so-called “smart guns.”
How do they do an online poll without a self-selection bias?
31% of the people polled answered “Yes” to the question, “Is there currently a gun in your house (either owned by you or by someone else who lives with you)?”
40% of the gun owners said they would swap their current gun for a smart gun. But these numbers decreased with the age of the gun owner. If the gun owner was 55+ years old only 23% would swap their current gun for a smart gun.
66% of the public agreed that gun dealers should be allowed to sell smart guns.
Of those that agree 87% are gun owners, 75% are women, and 59% are women.
I don’t get this. Of those that agree, how can there be 75% men and 59% women? Surely they meant 75% the men agree and 59% the women agree. Right?
Over all 51% think there should be a mandate for “smart guns” if the technology is commercially available. But only 38% of gun owners agree while 62% of the general public agrees with a mandate.
McNamara and Trigger Smart are based in Ireland. This, as he admitted, biased his views on “smart guns” in the U.S.
His technology is RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) based and he told us it would add about $300 to the price of a gun.
He saw them as being used for prevention of children having an accident and used for recreational firearms. He didn’t seem to have a sense for what it would mean to have his technology on a self-defense gun.
As King County Sheriff John Urquhart pointed out police officers who lose control of their gun are almost for certain going to be close enough for the gun to be authorized to shoot when the bad guy pulls the trigger. If the bad guy were to run some distance away before shooting then it would be useful but in the immediate struggle it wouldn’t help. Hence an RFID based authorization system is of limited value in a struggle for self-defense situation.
He seemed to think there were some people that wanted them banned. It could be that he was just misunderstanding the situation with the New Jersey mandate and how that would essentially ban other types of gun. Hence many gun owners are hostile to the introduction of “smart guns”.
Since it is dependent upon radio communication someone in the audience asked about how it would deal with an attempt at being jammed. He didn’t seem to think it was possible. Looking at his bio I can excuse this error. His background is in property development, construction, and real estate. As an electrical engineer I can assure you it is possible to jam the communication between the gun and the RFID tag worn by the shooter.
New Jersey State Senator Majority Leader
Weinberg takes credit for the introduction and passage of the New Jersey “smart gun” mandate law.
She told many stories of children accidently shooting people. Her keynote speech was emotion packed and got the expected response from the CeaseFire people in the audience. I was annoyed with this because the number of people accidently killed in this manner is much less than the number of small children drowned. But we don’t have symposiums on or laws mandating “smart bathtubs” or “smart swimming pools”.
But what really irritated me was when she said it might have prevented the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting or the terrorist shooting in France at the offices of Charlie Hebdo. To believe things like that requires a special kind of crazy. I doubt Weinberg actually believes such a thing. I suspect she is just exhibiting her credentials that enabled her to be a New Jersey politician for such a long time. She can lie convincingly when telling people what they want to hear. She was speaking to the CeaseFire audience and not to people with technical competence.
She said there was a lot of talk among gun control people about the “smart gun” mandate law. The law had the unintended consequence of stopping the research. And you find that CeaseFire is opposed to the mandate and the Brady Campaign tried to sue and get New Jersey to enforce the mandate.
She wrote a letter to the NRA saying that she would work to repeal the law if the NRA would stop the opposition to “smart guns”. They didn’t respond. This got groans from the CeaseFire people in the audience. I thought this was probably the smartest thing they could have done with the letter. Anti-gun people can’t be trusted. What sort of guarantee could we have in place that would prevent them from pushing for a mandate again as soon as there is a gun on the market that sort of works but makes self-defense more risky than it already is? There isn’t any.
Legal Director, Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence
When asked by moderator Dave Ross, “Is there anything wrong with letting the market decide?” Leftwich made it clear she supports mandates. When asked about the legality of mandates in light of the Heller decision which said the D.C. safe storage law was unconstitutional she told the audience that Heller only required that guns be functional. A safe storage law, in general, was not unconstitutional. D.C. had required the guns be disassembled. A “smart gun” should pass constitutional muster. Her questioner (someone from Guns.com, I think it was Max Slowik, their report is here) followed up by pointing out that Heller said that firearms “in common use” could not be banned. Leftwich drew parallel to seat belts and air bags in cars and said you can still drive old cars without airbags or seat belts. Guns shouldn’t be any different.
Leftwich also said “smart guns” would prevent gun theft. I so wanted to ask the other panelists who actually had technical knowledge what their opinion was. But there were other people asking questions ahead of me and the answers rambled on for so long that they put a halt to the questions before I got my turn. I told her directly after the symposium that the technology couldn’t possibly stop someone with a little mechanical or electrical smarts from defeating it. She responded that thieves generally aren’t very smart. I pointed out that they could still sell the guns to someone who had the smarts. She insisted that it would still help some. I told her that the mandate will get extremely strong resistance because of the self-defense issues of reduced reliability. I don’t know if I was just starting to annoy her or if it was that particular question but her attitude changed and she didn’t seem at all interested in talking to me any more. I let it drop.
In part four I will cover the “smart gun” poll results presented by Mark Burles, Vice President Penn Schoen, Berland.
I received fairly detailed information on the testing of the Dynamic Grip Recognition technology. I don’t yet have permission to publish it here. I hope to get at least permission to say which of my concerns have been addressed to my satisfaction and which I think need more work. That permission probably will not be granted until Monday, if ever.
I’m arranging my post by the people who spoke in no particular order. The chronology and the topic of the panel in which they talked isn’t particularly important. I suspect there will be video available at some time but in most cases there was a lot of rambling and the information could have been presented much more concisely. Because of this you won’t see many exact quotes but my attempt to rephrase what I think is their position. I may get something wrong or miss something they believe to be important to understand their position and if they wish to contact me I’ll be glad to discuss and correct such errors.
President Washington CeaseFire
I was annoyed with Fascitelli and tweeted about him a few times during the event:
Washington Ceasefire’s Ralph Fascitelli says guns are a “public health plague”.
Fascitelli said smart guns are similar to e-cigarettes. By this he meant, in part, the established industries are opposed to them and although they are safer some anti-smoking (and anti-gun) people are concerned that because they are safer they will lead to greater use/acceptance of conventional cigarettes/guns. He is opposed to smart gun mandates and realizes that has hindered development of the technology. He hopes that people on all sides of the issue can find common ground and reduce gun violence. He recognizes that gun owners and gun rights groups do care about innocent lives.
He strayed off topic some and said:
Guns are a “toxic plague” and in another instance a “public health plague”.
He wants limits on magazine sizes
He wants a ban on assault weapons
Some of the distortions and lies I found annoying included:
He conflated the number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty by someone using a gun with those killed by someone using the officers gun. He said it was “500 over ten years”. The actual number was 511 but only 51 were shot with a department issued firearm. Fascitelli never mentioned the 51 number and expressed the “500” number in such a way that strongly implied “smart gun” technology could have saved some or all of those 500 officers.
During the press conference he said there were about 18,000 suicides per year using a gun and approximately 50% use a third party gun. I suspect he really meant a second parties gun but whatever. Then during the symposium he changed the numbers to 20,000 suicides per year and 10,000 people using a “third party” gun.
He said people under the age of 21 are not allowed to use handguns. This is false. They aren’t allowed to purchase handguns but they can own and use them.
He said about 10,000 U.S. children and teens have firearm injuries per year. I don’t recall if he did this or if it was only others but there were lots of stories of preteens killed and injured and then they used numbers which always included teens. The inclusion of teens of course brings in 19 year olds being shot while attempting to kill an innocent victim.
He and some others made a point that guns currently aren’t 100% reliable but “smart gun” critics demand the “smart gun” technology be 100% reliable. I suspect he is smart enough to know this is being disingenuous. We don’t want gun reliability to decrease to unacceptable levels. One failure out of 100,000 is probably acceptable in your self-defense hand gun. A 99% accurate smart gun means one failure out 100 and is not acceptable.
Depending on how you arrive at the numbers (see my email here) a gun that stops a kid from firing it 99.9% of the time may mean that if they try it 500 times they have a 60% chance of getting at least one shot off. 99% reliable may mean a 60% chance with just 50 attempts.
He hinted at a great divide in the anti-gun movement over smart guns. There is the obvious unintended consequence of mandated smart guns impeding development of them. But they also have concerns that if guns became safer to own guns would be more accepted in society.
This last point leads me to something else. I wonder if this contributes to their vehement opposition to armed school personal and sometimes even police being in schools. Are they concerned school shooting would decrease or stop and they would be less able to get traction on their anti-gun agenda? The same might be said of self-defense both inside and outside the home. Some, if not most, don’t really care that much about safety in general they just don’t want there to be guns and they even can admit this to themselves in some situations.
Sheriff, King County
I really liked what Urquhart had to say and the way he said it. He was much more concise and to the point that the others and his points resonated with me. “Smart guns” aren’t ready for prime time. His deputies are very skeptical of them. You can see the mechanism of guns, you can take them apart, you can see parts are in need of maintenance, and you can clean and repair them. You can’t see into the electronics and software. You can’t know a failure is imminent with the electronics and software. A mechanical device is understandable.
This probably paraphrasing but instead of an exact quote, “A lock box isn’t going to save your life in an emergency but a gun may.”
CEO, Allied Biometrix
Allied Biometrix is licensing the commercial rights to a dynamic grip biometric device.
He thinks the phrase “smart gun” should be dropped. It should be a “user authorized gun” or something similar.
He sees potential for preventing accidents by children. He is adamant that thieves and terrorists (as suggested by one panelist) would be not be deterred.
While he is against legislation mandating the technology he would welcome legislation or at least some standards established before a gun could be put on the market. He doesn’t want a “bad-actor” to get into the market with a poor quality product that would trigger New Jersey type laws or sour the market for technology that might deliver on the promise of a high tech gun. “We can’t afford a 404 error code.”
He is also concerned about the liability issue. What if the technology fails and someone who is unauthorized to fire the gun successfully gets a shot off? Currently gun manufactures are shielded from such liability. But it seems unlikely a product that failed to do as it was advertised would be shielded. Even if it worked 99.9% of the time the liability from the 0.1% of the failures would be unacceptable. I suspect this is part of the desire for the standards body or legislation. If the tech passes some test criteria then they might claim it does it’s job good enough even though it is not perfect. I didn’t mention this to him but I think an argument could be made that it is similar to seat belts and air bags. They don’t work 100% of the time but they work well enough to save lives in many situations.
He says the technology isn’t quite ready yet. He also made the point, “Why would consumers accept the technology if law enforcement won’t?”
He claims his technology works about 99.9% of the time. I asked for details on how that was measured and he referred me to someone else. I called and sent an email yesterday but I have not heard back from them yet.
In one-on-one I asked about the price his technology would add to the gun. He dodged the question somewhat and said that survey’s showed “the sweet spot” was about $200 to $300 per gun. The parts would be considerably less than that but licensing, marketing, markup, etc. would bring it up to that range.
Tomorrow in part three I will cover what Robert McNamera had to say about “smart guns” and his product Trigger Smart which is based on RFID technology. Also Juliet A. Leftwich Legal Director, Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, and Senator Loretta Weinberg, New Jersey Senate Majority Leader.