There is an interesting bit of gun news today in the Washington Post. It seems that the first “smart gun” is officially on the market – though right now it is being sold in exactly 1 store in exactly 1 State in exactly 1 country (Oak Tree Gun Club, Newhall, CA, USA – just outside LA). It is the Armatrix iP1. Armatrix seems to be in the gun lock/ safe business, and this is their first entrant into the actual firearm manufacturing side of the market. The iP1 is chambered in .22 and has a 10 round magazine. In order to be operated, it must be paired with a “smart” watch (which is nowhere near the capabilities of the smart watches from Samsung, Pebble, and others currently on the market). It can also be paired with a targeting system at a range that prevents the gun from being fired at anything but the target it is paired with. The iP1 itself retails for $1399, along with another $399 for the “smart watch”. (For a comparison, I paid right around $650, taxes included, for my Springfield Armory XD-45 Tactical about a year ago, and a Samsung Gear true smart watch retails for about $400.)
I’ll admit, the concept itself sounds intriguing. I’ll also admit just as quickly that I will never own one or any other “smart gun” until my issues with them can be resolved, the first of which I do not believe is possible to resolve.
1) I’m a programmer. I know all too well that if it is electronic, it WILL fail. It is only a matter of time. Period. Therefore, at some point, this gun will NOT fire, if for no other reason than one of its electronic components failed. I for one don’t want to take the risk that said failure happens when I try to draw to defend my life or the life of someone I love or even someone who happens to be around me. When I draw my gun, I expect it to fire each and every time – and KNOWING that electronics WILL fail, I simply don’t see that level of reliability built into these types of guns.
2) The target system gives me flash backs to the Robocop reboot that released one week ago. In it, instead of having a classified directive preventing Robocop from harming Omnicorp executives, Robocop is instead prevented from harming anyone wearing a red electronic bracelet. This is actually eerily similar to Armatrix’ range technology that they are hyping! Thus, all a bad guy would have to do is obtain one of the “red bracelets” in order to prevent my gun from being able to defend myself from him! Ummm… NO THANKS!
3) The WP article states that one reason some are pushing these guns is that they could be disabled around “free crime zones”, aka “gun free zones” such as schools or other government buildings. In other words, my gun could be prevented from firing simply because I pass through a school zone on my way to work! Again, reliability is key in guns, and this builds in yet another unreliability! NO THANKS!
4) Anything with a computer chip can be hacked. Period. With this system, hacking wouldn’t be difficult – thus a bad guy could actually turn my own gun against me, either by causing a jam or even outright locking the gun down and preventing me from using it against him. (see #2). NO THANKS!
I’m sure I’ll think of more later. What say y’all?