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"Smart" Gun Seller Gets the Wrong Kind of Online Attention 1374

Posted by timothy
from the or-maybe-that's-exactly-the-right-kind dept.
R3d M3rcury (871886) writes "How's this for a good idea? A gun that won't fire unless it's within 10 inches of a watch? That's the iP1 from Armatrix. Of course, don't try to sell it here in the United States." From the NY Times article linked: "[Armatrix employee] Belinda Padilla does not pick up unknown calls anymore, not since someone posted her cellphone number on an online forum for gun enthusiasts. Then someone snapped pictures of the address where she has a P.O. box and put those online, too. In a crude, cartoonish scrawl, this person drew an arrow to the blurred image of a woman passing through the photo frame. 'Belinda?" the person wrote. "Is that you?" ... "I have no qualms with the idea of personally and professionally leveling the life of someone who has attempted to profit from disarming me and my fellow Americans," one commenter wrote." The article paints a fairly rosy picture of the particular technology that Armatrix is pushing, but their ID-checking gun seems to default to an unfireable state, which might not always be an attractive feature. And given that at least one state — New Jersey — has hinged a gun law on the commercial availability of these ID-linked guns, it's not surprising that some gun owners dislike a company that advertises this kind of system as "the future of the firearm."
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"Smart" Gun Seller Gets the Wrong Kind of Online Attention

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 01, 2014 @11:44AM (#46889443)

    If a journalist wants to go around posting the addresses of all registered gun owners, then expect the opposite to happen.

  • by Tuidjy (321055) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @11:51AM (#46889541)

    For a long time I thought of myself as a gun enthusiast. I kept my old Army service CZ for decades, and I kept replacing the barrel, as I was firing thousands upon thousands of rounds to 'keep my hand'.

    Then I got married, and now my gun stays at the range, where we go and fire it once in a blue moon. Now that I think about it, I have not touched it since last August.

    I live in a much nicer community than the one in which I used to live, and really do not think that my gun would be much extra protection over my swords and bows. (Not that they would be much protection, either) Furthermore, a few months ago, agun owner 20 miles away, in San Bernadino, got killed when he interrupted a home invasion (by unarmed people) He got two, the third strangled him. So three people dead, one in jail for life (I hope) ... which probably would not have happened if he had not had a gun.

    All of this said, I cannot imagine for the fuck of it a situation where I would want a fucking piece of shit that only fires if I am wearing a watch. I do not sleep with my watch, and I am not replacing my watch with another, for any reason. This is a stupid gimmick that will eventually screw a legitimate owner up. And I bet that if you give me two of these guns, the associated watches, and leave me alone with my PC, in my office at the plant, I'll have the gun 'unlocked' within a week.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 01, 2014 @12:02PM (#46889671)

    ...Then don't buy one.

  • by swillden (191260) <> on Thursday May 01, 2014 @12:05PM (#46889703) Homepage Journal

    a gun that might not fire.

    That would be all of them.

    Yes, if you're a pedant. However, a well-maintained modern handgun firing factory ammunition is unlikely to fail, and nearly all failures that do occur are transient and easily fixed. With a bit of practice, even type 3 malfunctions (double-feed) can be cleared in under a second and the gun restored to working order.

    What we're talking about here is an additional failure mode, one that is almost certainly not repairable in a second, or even a couple of minutes. In a gunfight, a couple of minutes is likely to be a literal lifetime. Further, it introduces a failure mode which can occur even when everything is working perfectly. If for some reason you need to shoot with your off hand and cannot get your strong-side wrist in range of the gun, you'll be unable to shoot.

    Police will absolutely refuse to use these, and civilians should also refuse to allow them to be imposed on us.

  • by jythie (914043) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @12:18PM (#46889919)
    I always find the rhetoric of people claiming to represent 'the people' complaining about 'the government' to be rather fascinating since if their views actually did represent the full population then it would be reflected in their elected officials.
  • Re:Untrustworthy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jythie (914043) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @12:24PM (#46889995)
    gun nuts and good armed people are not really the same group.
  • Re:Gun nuts (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Beeftopia (1846720) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @12:30PM (#46890093)

    "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." -- 2nd Amendment []

    I imagine back in 1791, when the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution [], and the country was mostly rural, and the army was mustered from the citizenry, this made perfect sense.

    Today, we have standing armies. People are trained to shoot while in the military. You're not relying on people training themselves, or bringing their own weapons. Heck, the average person has a very hard and expensive time getting an automatic weapon, the type used in the military.

    However, I think the Supreme Court reads this correctly. The 2nd Amendment says WHY the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Granted, the WHY is not relevant to the situation today, but that's what the 2nd Amendment does pretty clearly say.

  • by stoploss (2842505) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @12:33PM (#46890139)

    I live in a much nicer community than the one in which I used to live, and really do not think that my gun would be much extra protection over my swords and bows. (Not that they would be much protection, either) Furthermore, a few months ago, agun owner 20 miles away, in San Bernadino, got killed when he interrupted a home invasion (by unarmed people) He got two, the third strangled him. So three people dead, one in jail for life (I hope) ... which probably would not have happened if he had not had a gun.

    First off, I will give my standard libertarian disclaimer that I don't care what you do as long as you don't try to compel me to do what you think is best. So, fair enough you believe you have no use for a firearm anymore. Great, just don't try to prevent me from owning and using firearms for my own protection.

    As for your anecdote, I would take the odds of potentially only stopping 2 out of 3 while defending my family with my firearm. Because, you know, home invaders aren't your typical burglars (cf. Wichita Massacre []). Home invaders are more like rabid animals—normally burglars have a fear of being discovered. Home invaders, like rabid animals, somehow lack that fear and are willing to enter the home while people are present. Witnesses... something every criminal wants.

    If someone forces their way into my home, their right to live is forfeit in favor of my right and duty to protect my family.

  • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @12:36PM (#46890203)

    Otherwise, this sounds like just another way the anti-gun fear mongering freedom hating lobbying industry are trying to increase the costs and burdens of gun ownership in order to reduce gun ownership by law abiding citizens. It is yet another straw man in the war against freedom.

    Actually, it's a bit more complicated than that. There are a variety of interests that benefit from this type of controversy. At both ends of the gun debate spectrum you get people riled up. That results in money. Anti gun groups can use this to say "See, there is a solution that keeps your gun in your hands but out of others." The gun industry and their lobbying groups gets to say "Look out; THEY"RE coming to get you guns. Buy now before it is too late..."

    A problem gun manufacturers face is much of their market is already saturated and offers limited growth. So while they are reaching out to new markets such as women by offering guns designed to appeal to the; they also want to keep gun enthusiasts afraid of "what's coming" so they stock up in advance of the great gun grab.

    Of course, a few nut cases cast all gun owners in a bad light. If a company wants to build a gun with an external cutoff, let them. If it sells there is a market if not then they go out of business. A fine libertarian solution to the problem without government intervention; but saying that don't create FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Dollars) and thus is ignored because fear is the most important thing to drive the dollars.

    Finally, I find it interesting that many folks who are staunch 1st amendment supporters want to keep criminals and those with mental problems from buying guns. Nowhere in the amendment does it say "...except felons and the mentally ill;" so they already implicitly accept that there are reasonable limits on weapons ownership. The question then becomes "what is reasonable?"

    On a side, but related, Stand Your Ground is being used as a defense where a kid stabbed and killed another who had bullied him. Even though the dead kid was unarmed at the time the defense argues that their client was reasonably in fear of this life because of the previous actions.So know when someone threatens you does that give you a green light to later shoot them? Would the mere act of legally carrying a weapon be enough to justify standing your ground if the person made what appeared to be a treating move or said something that was threatening?

  • Re:Gun nuts (Score:5, Interesting)

    by by (1706743) (1706744) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @12:43PM (#46890293)
    Well said.

    We even have restrictions on free speech, even though the 1st Amendment says, "Congress shall make no law ...abridging the freedom of speech...". It seems to me that my right to free speech is being "abridged" in that there's an effective ban on death threats, yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater, etc. And yet, I don't really see people going on about the death of the Constitution with respect to this aspect. Of course, I happen to think that death threats should *not* be protected under free speech just as I think gun laws should, in some way, be reformed, but I suppose that's my opinion and all...
  • by MadCow42 (243108) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @12:53PM (#46890409) Homepage

    So what if all the privately-held weapons in the USA were of this type? do you think that someone (... some 3-letter acronym, maybe... ahem) might design a gun jamming system? What good is the right to bear arms if someone else can simply shut them off on you? Sorry, no go - at least from a mandated-use standpoint. Sure, I can see it being nice for some people who CHOOSE to use it, but not if it's mandated by law.

  • by Daetrin (576516) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @12:54PM (#46890431)
    "but their ID-checking gun seems to default to an unfireable state, which might not always be an attractive feature."

    I'm sorry, but that's the _only_ feature of this gun vis-a-vis a regular gun. The whole point is that it has to be "activated" by some specific method before it will work, in an attempt to verify that only the "right" person can use it. The details may differ, whether using a watch such as in this case or other proposed methods using fingerprints or other biometrics, but the fundamental concept is that the gun doesn't fire unless that condition is met.

    Why in the world would you pay extra for a gun that checks your ID, but then decides to default to a fireable state even if you fail the ID check? If that's what you want you could just get a regular gun that doesn't bother checking your ID to begin with.

    If you don't like the fundamental concept, don't buy the gun. If you don't like the idea of laws being passed in relation to this concept then write to your congressperson and/or vote for someone else. But complaining that the gun does exactly what it is designed to do is just dumb. (And needless to say, harassing and/or threatening employees of the company that sells them is just insane.)
  • Re:Gun nuts (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NotSanguine (1917456) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @01:09PM (#46890633)

    That could actually be read two ways, and you are choosing to read it in the more sinister way. Perhaps that is warranted, but not by anything I have seen. I've seen no evidence anyone has harmed her or offered to harm her - and if I am wrong, if someone has done that, they should face consequences for that act. But what I do see is being done (and SHOULD be done) is that people are watching to see when she manages to get a distributor lined up, and informing said potential distributor of some context that might change their mind. People are mad about this and have every right to be concerned.

    Maybe I'm missing something here, but wouldn't having a "smart" gun as described in TFS be a win/win for everyone? Gun owners can use their guns, but it someone steals it or disarms the gun owner, the gun is useless. Not sure why folks are complaining. Anyone want to enlighten me?

  • by frovingslosh (582462) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @01:10PM (#46890655)
    I haven't worn a watch for years. Not because of cell phones, but because the straps or where the strap mounts kept breaking on me.(a problem that I don;'t want to have with a gun when a Trayvon Martin type decides he doesn't like my looks.) But when I did wear one, like most right handed people, I wore it on my left wrist. This gun interlock supposedly has a 10 inch range. Why is no one commenting on that? I don't want a bunch of right handed people going around trying to aim guns and shooting with their left hands, and I doubt that many will want to change where they wear the watch (there are good reasons why a right hand person wears the watch on the left hand). I also have noticed that there is a wide range of tastes in watches. but I don't expect that variety of consumer options to be reflected in a device sold to be used as both a watch and a gun interlock. Of course, you don;tr have to buy this crap and wear a junky black plastic or rubber watch today, but if the liberal wackos who live to take away second amendment rights get their way, it will not be long before they get laws passed mandating this technology for anyone who wants to be able to protect themselves.
  • Jammer..? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Captain Centropyge (1245886) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @01:22PM (#46890805)

    Can anyone say "RFID jammer"..?

    Not only will the pro-gun crowd say that a jammer could be used by government agencies to disable their weapons, but the bad guys could easily build a jammer for their own use to ensure their safety during commission of a crime. Imagine cops closing in with "smart guns". The bad guys flip on the jammer and cops can't do anything about it. Throw in the bad guys having traditional guns, and the cops have a serious problem on their hands. Same goes for home invasions.

    I understand the idea behind smart guns, but this is a horrible idea. And as a gun owner, I'll never guy a smart gun. I've heard of fingerprint scanners being easily bypassed, as well. Unless you can tie it to DNA or something, I see no good way to produce a gun like this. And even then, it could likely be bypassed without much difficulty.

  • Re:Gun nuts (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BronsCon (927697) <> on Thursday May 01, 2014 @01:27PM (#46890887) Journal
    Having been robbed at gunpoint twice, I fully support legal gun ownership. Neither of the guns that have been held to my head were legally purchased, and I'm sure it would have happened more than twice if it was widely known by criminals that I'm highly unlikely to be able to defend myself.

    Yes, I am now armed. CC permit and I do carry. I hope to never need it, but I'll be damned if you're gonna take it away from me.
  • Re:Gun nuts (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Penguinisto (415985) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @01:38PM (#46891019) Journal

    Wrong, and here's why:

    1.) All people who own guns own a gun, and nearly all own ammunition. This means that simply being around a gun owner or at a gun owner's house I am dramatically more likely to get shot accidentally. This is perhaps not so much a fear of the gun owner as it is fear of the gun itself.

    This would only be true if said gun owner started taking his firearms out and handling them carelessly, which is so rare that you stand a better chance (by at least an order of magnitude) of being hit by a car driven recklessly (yet for some odd reason, no one is calling for a ban on automobiles.)

    2.) MANY gun owners believe in using their gun for self-defense. This also increases my likelihood of being shot around a gun owner because the gun owner may mistake me for an intruder.

    If you break into my house, yes - expect to be shot if it's dark, and held at gunpoint if it's daylight. If you are not an intruder, you have nothing to worry about. Under what condition do you expect to be mistaken for an intruder, anyway?

    HARDLY ANY gun owners (and this includes police officers and members of the military) are sufficiently skilled to discharge a firearm in a crowded indoor situation with multiple panicked people and possibly a few assailants in such a way that they correctly identify and harm the assailants but do not harm the bystanders. If an individual has multiple years of experience working as a military sniper they probably fall into this group, but even then they may not fall into this group when using a handgun.

    Hardly any human being is sufficiently skilled to safely land a crippled airliner - and yet the odds of either happening are roughly the same, if not slightly in favor of the crippled airliner. Your point?

    5.) SOME gun owners believe guns are a good way to solve interpersonal problems besides those involving self-defense. These people WANT their ownership of a gun to be a form of intimidation to some individuals. I rationally consider these people to be a danger to everyone.

    Such people are promptly arrested/convicted for assault, brandishing a firearm, etc. They are only a danger once, and once only. After that they are, as convicted felons, no longer allowed to own such things.

    Meanwhile, how many people commit DUI, reckless driving, blatant disregard for life/limb in their automobiles (see also the almost-daily police chases in LA), and assorted road rage incidents? Do you therefore also fear automobiles under the rational banner, or is it just that you fear something you have no familiarity with (considering that owning and using a firearm is replete with enforced gun safety demands at the gun range, classes required for hunting, classes/certifications required for concealed-carry permits, etc?)

  • by AC-x (735297) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @01:44PM (#46891127)

    Fact is, guns don't do a fraction of the harm of automobiles.

    Bullshit, guns kill almost as many people in the USA as cars do:

    Road deaths in 2010: 32,885
    Gun deaths in 2010: 31,076

  • by vux984 (928602) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @02:11PM (#46891531)

    However, a well-maintained modern handgun firing factory ammunition is unlikely to fail

    So assuming you maintain it, which you already claimed you do, you should be just fine as it will continue to be unlikely to fail.

    What we're talking about here is an additional failure mode

    How is the potential of getting shot with your own gun not also a "failure mode"? Where you simply see "additional failure mode", I see tradeoffs plain as day.

    If for some reason you need to shoot with your off hand and cannot get your strong-side wrist in range of the gun, you'll be unable to shoot.

    If for some reason the person you wish to shoot wrestles the gun away from you, he'll be unable to shoot you with it. Tradeoff.

    Police will absolutely refuse to use these,

    Lets look at some actual numbers. According to the Washington Post

    From 2000 to 2010

    511 police officers were killed by guns.
    170 the source of the gun is not known / gun not recovered
    107 of those were by guns legally acquired by the killer
    77 were from stolen guns
    51 were killed with their own weapon or another officers weapon (presumably obtained during the incident)
    46 obtained from relatives or friends who had them legally
    41 obtained through illegal street sale
    16 obtained through 'staw buyer' (bought legally by someone for someone else prohibted to own a gun)
    3 purchased illegally at gun shows or private sellers

    So a full 10% of police deaths by firearm were by their own guns. This system would have saved at minimum 51 police officers lives. Its plausible that some percentage of the stolen and other illegally obtained guns would also have been prevented; but we'll set that aside and just consider police officers being shot with their own firearm for now.

    So the question before us then is how many times would a smart system have to fail to fire before it caused more deaths than it saved?

    The number of bullets fired by Officers in New York City was 431 in 2001, and 540 in in 2006. (And peaked quite a bit higher in the 90s, but I'm trying to keep the data as current as possible.) Now Given NYC is 1/40th the US population we can make a very gross extrapolation to the entire country to 17,000 - 21,000 shots year. Lets call it 200,000 rounds over the same decade. (And I think that's crazy high over estimate); and it includes everything from putting down a dog to warning shots to that time LAPD shot a single 19 year old guy 90 times after he threatened them with a cell phone. (Yes he was trying to provoke them and he deserved to get shot... but really 90 rounds fired at what turned out to be an unarmed man?)

    Anyway based on those numbers a smart gun system then would have to fail >50 times in 200,000 rounds (or 1 round out of 4000) and EVERY single failure would have to be a life or death situation where failing to fire leads to the officers death, which is so utterly ludicrous its not even really worth considering... but lets consider it anyway.
    1:4000 failures is 99.975% functional.

    That's how reliable the system has to be to be an improvement, even under the most RIDICULOUS assumption that every single failure would lead to a cop being killed. But even 99.975% reliable is a very low bar to reach.

    Not only will the system clearly be more reliable than that, and even when it does fail most of the time it won't get anyone killed.

    If it were to be even 99.99% reliable, and we assume that even 1 time in 10 the gun not firing is fatal for the police officer, then this system would have saved 51 officers, and resulted in 2 deaths. /. is a place for science and math. And the math is pretty clear. The system will save far more lives than it costs. And your objection is therefore knee jerk hysterics.

    I look forward to a well reasoned, well researched, well articulated counter argument. (Or just call me a liberal tard who wants to take all yer guns away...whatever works for you).

  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @02:47PM (#46892037) Homepage

    The technology in question is the "magazine safety". It blocks the trigger press unless a magazine is fully inserted.

    A magazine safety isn't for "gun grab" protection. It's to prevent a supposedly unloaded weapon from firing when there's still a round in the chamber. California requires it on new handguns. Prevents the "But I didn't know it was loaded" problem.

    The U.S. Army often puts a barrel of sand outside mess halls and such in war zones. Entering the area, soldiers must unload their weapon, then try to fire it into the sand barrel. For a large mess hall, about once a day, on average, "bang".

    When Col. Dave Hackworth was working on the Army's project to replace the 1911A1, he discovered that, over the Army's history of that weapon, it had killed more US troops through accidents than enemy. Sidearms are carried by troops who don't plan to use them. If you expect to need a weapon, you take something bigger. So the Army really wants sidearms that don't go off by accident.

  • Re:gun cleaning (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JayBat (617968) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @06:03PM (#46894407)

    I'd venture to say people are just as unlikely to clean and oil their gun and install fresh ammunition..

    Au contraire! Every year, thousands (thousands!) of good responsible gun owners unintentionally shoot themselves or their buddies in the hand, or foot, or ass, or crotch, or head (that last one seldom turns out well!).

    In about 2/3 of those cases, guess what they were doing? Wait for it.... they were CLEANING THEIR GUN AND IT JUST WENT OFF! So there are gun cleaners everywhere, I tell you, and my hat is off to them, having the courage to clean their gun when it is (apparently) such a risky activity.


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