The Truth About Smart Guns


The other day I had to use my cellphone to call the vet. One of our pups had nearly collapsed. While cradling him and keeping a cool cloth on his belly, I tried to unlock my iPhone. Because my adrenaline was racing and my palms were sweaty, it took several tries. By the time I'd wiped my thumb and successfully unlocked it ­ — 45 seconds later — my husband had the vet on another line.

Imagine that you are in a similar situation and contending with a break-in. It's the middle of the night, and the sound of glass shattering wakes you.

You retrieve your new $1,800 "childproof" smart gun and feel in the dark for the bulky watch that accompanies it. The watch must be worn to pair with your "smart gun" before it can be fired. It takes five seconds to locate the watch. You have to press multiple buttons to get past the first security checkpoint.

This takes about 10 seconds. You fumble a bit with the buttons because it's dark, the buttons are black, it's difficult to tell if you're holding it right-side up, you're scared, and you're hurrying to arm yourself before the perpetrators make their way to your children's bedroom. Instead of 10 seconds, it takes almost 30.

Finally, your passcode is accepted and you try to activate your gun '¦ except you threw the watch on your bed. It has to be within 10 inches or the firearm won't function. Who has time to put on a watch when their home is being invaded?

You hear footsteps on the stairs leading up to your bedrooms. You grip your "smart gun," now paired with the watch, and as you pass your window, light hits your watch face and you see that the batteries for your gun are low.

Your children are now awake, and one of them is crying. You pray your "smart gun" works and try to keep the watch in your hands as you move to get between the perpetrators and your children.

Perhaps if you drop the watch or the battery runs out, you can persuade the criminals in your home to give you a minute to re-pair your devices or swap out the battery before they rape you or your spouse.

That is the reality of dumb guns. You trade your sovereignty over this inanimate object for more difficult and less dependable technology.

dumbguns_2Newsweek recently featured a nagging piece on the need to build a "smart gun" market, a market for people who clearly don't have to worry about blowing their budget on a less dependable firearm. The author lamented the difficulty in building appeal.

There is a reason that consumer appetites for "smart guns" are nonexistent: First, "smart guns" are nothing more than dumb guns for people who like to take risks.

Second, what middle class family has $1,800 laying around to buy an undependable and hard to use firearm? The dumb-gun push from the gun-control lobby is a tactic designed to price out Americans of their Second Amendment rights.

Third, no one wants to turn a protection tool into a Rube Goldberg machine. Some dumb gun models feature triggers that unlock the gun similarly to pressing your finger to the iPhone's home button. Does your phone open reliably every time?

Fourth, dumb guns are vulnerable to outside control. Imagine if someone hacked your dumb gun before invading your home to ensure that you're defenseless.

I understand the need to keep a firearm secure and out of little hands. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a childproof gun. If you want to childproof a gun, you need to gun proof your child — educate them on firearm safety and responsible handling.

Practice safe storage.

Allowing unpredictable technology to serve as your babysitter instead of teaching responsibility is, to be frank, bad parenting. Firearms don't need fixing. Attitudes on firearms do.

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