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Crime Technology

Smart Guns To Stop Mass Killings 1388

New submitter Bugs42 writes " has an opinion piece on the possibility of cramming guns full of computers and sensors to disable them in certain buildings or around children. The author, in true mainstream media fashion, completely fails to see any possible technical problems with this. Quoting: 'How might this work? Start with locational "self-awareness." Guns should know where they are and if another gun is nearby. Global positioning systems can meet most of the need, refining a gun's location to the building level, even within buildings. Control of the gun would remain in the hand of the person carrying it, but the ability to fire multiple shots in crowded areas or when no other guns are present would be limited by software that understands where the gun is being used. Guns should also be designed to sense where they are being aimed. Artificial vision and optical sensing technology can be adapted from military and medical communities. Sensory data can be used by built-in software to disable firing if the gun is pointed at a child or someone holding a child."
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Smart Guns To Stop Mass Killings

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  • by jerpyro ( 926071 ) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @03:16PM (#42535319)

    I agree. Also, was I the only person to think 'Judge Dredd' when I read it?

  • by spikenerd ( 642677 ) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @03:17PM (#42535343)
    Arguments about the second amendment used to revolve around whether guns keep us free. These days, however, they're all about whether guns keep us safe. Something significant has already been lost, even if we still have the right to bear arms.
  • by PhxBlue ( 562201 ) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @03:26PM (#42535539) Homepage Journal
    Actually, the problem is the guns. Or, rather, it's that guns are so widespread and easy to obtain that any nutcase can get one.
  • Unbelievable... (Score:5, Informative)

    by AlphaWolf_HK ( 692722 ) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @03:27PM (#42535573)

    The anti-firearms hysteria needs to stop. This reminds me of when Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray, so a bunch of dead stingrays started showing up everywhere because people suddenly thought of them as being too dangerous to have around. Yeah, firearms can kill people. So can a bunch of other things.

    There are three times as many automobile related fatalities each year as firearms related fatalities: []

    Even better, there are more people killed with hammers and clubs than with firearms: []

    So why the fuck are we going after people who own firearms?

    First they came for the NRA,
    and I didn't speak out because I wasn't an NRA member.

    (Yeah, I invoked Godwin's Law, so what.)

    Also, in Afghanistan it is not unheard of for "enemy combatants" (we can't call them terrorists anymore) to carry kids while they are on the battlefield, either for the purpose of preventing themselves from being shot at, or propaganda ("Look at these baby killers! They must die in the name of allah!") That goes to show you what people are capable of. If firearms were disabled in a similar manner in domestic situations, only it happened automatically, I imagine that would come home as well.

  • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @03:33PM (#42535725)

    From CNN, what did you expect?

    First, it's an opinion article. Second, Editor's note: Jeremy Shane, who served in the Justice Department during the George H.W. Bush administration. It's right there under the headline. Heeeeere's your sign.

  • by notknown86 ( 1190215 ) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @03:35PM (#42535795)
    Only the ignorant think that gun controls don't reduce the possiblity of a sick minded disturbed person from killing.

    The Australian example:
    1996, introduction of strict gun controls: 0.57 per 100,000
    2012, current gun homicide rate: 0.17 per 100,000
    (source: [])

    If you were to pull your head out of the sand, you might also note that the related drop in the overall homicide numbers over the same period (299 down to 219 = 70) is entirely accounted for by the corresponding drop in guns homicides over the same period (104 down to 30 = 74)
  • Re:Two questions (Score:5, Informative)

    by fiordhraoi ( 1097731 ) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @03:37PM (#42535815)
    If you can purchase illegal drugs, the odds are that you can purchase an illegal firearm. And I don't doubt that videos and how-to guides would begin circulating on the internet for people to find, the same way that you can find bomb-making instructions today. That said, you're absolutely right about the number of incidents - while mass shootings are horrible, they're also a statistical anomaly. To use the standard "how unlikely" comparison - 543 people have died in US mass shootings since 1982. The US averages about 90 lightning strikes per year. So over those 30 years, that's 2700 lightning deaths. So you're about 5 times more likely to get killed by lightning.
  • Intentionality (Score:4, Informative)

    by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @03:46PM (#42536019)

    You assume the purpose of shooting somebody is to kill them. That is not true. The purpose of shooting somebody is to stop them from doing what they are doing.

    In cases like the recent mass shooting, what the school children were doing was living. The gun man decided he wanted to stop them from living.

    Let's not pretend that the purpose of guns is not for killing. They are a tool and that is their purpose. You can kill a person or an animal to stop an action but that is the purpose of the person, not the tool. If you fire a gun at a person your expectation is that you will kill. There is an intentionality to firearms. Firearms are a weapon and the purpose of a weapon is to kill.

  • by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @03:57PM (#42536251)

    It's cute how people think stuff like this would work.

    Black markets don't only trade in illegal goods.

    In Soviet Russia (ha!) and similar environments, if anyone wanted to know the real value of any good or product, they checked the black market prices.

  • by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @04:06PM (#42536439)

    It works better as a joke, because making your own bullets is pretty easy to do (pretty much trivially so if you have the equipment, which isn't hard to get).

  • by Zordak ( 123132 ) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @04:17PM (#42536641) Homepage Journal

    He was incarcerated and killed for his beliefs. Funny how all those pro-gun people who trot out the "we need to defend ourselves agaisnt the government" revile Mcveigh rather than actually look up to him for doing exactly what they claim they need their guns for!

    Wow, this is truly one of the stupidest things I have ever read in my life. Timothy McVeigh was incarcerated and "killed" (as you put it) for murdering 168 innocent people. He was not defending himself or his beliefs. He was not engaged in combat. He just drove a bomb up and killed them. That is not something people should "look up to him" for. I would assume you're a troll if you had posted AC. Since you logged in, perhaps you are just crazy?

  • by Calibax ( 151875 ) * on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @04:28PM (#42536871)

    As a counter argument, about a year ago a bystander with a gun killed an off-duty ATF agent who was struggling with a pharmacy robbery suspect who had a gun. The bystander thought he was shooting the bad guy, but he shot and killed a 20-year Federal agent who had a wife and two kids and was at the pharmacy to pick up cancer drugs for his dad. Then a cop killed the suspect.

    Intervening After Robbery, an Off-Duty A.T.F. Agent Is Killed []

  • by PhxBlue ( 562201 ) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @04:29PM (#42536897) Homepage Journal

    Because it is impossible to do it with knives or more likely gas bombs or half a dozen other things any of us could easily think of?

    In China a week or two ago, a man attacked schoolchildren with a knife. He injured about 20 or so. No one died.

    In the last 20 years, 13 people have died from gas bombs. Five people died from biological attacks in that same amount of time. Care to guess how many people have been killed by guns?

    So thanks for making my point. It's not impossible to kill someone with other tools, but it's nowhere near as convenient.

  • by SomePgmr ( 2021234 ) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @05:22PM (#42537821) Homepage

    Minor nitpick... but almost no one makes their own bullets. Lots of people do make and reload their own ammo with purchased bullets, primers, powder, and new or (usually) reused brass. Similar for shot shells, but with purchased shot and wad or slug and sabo.

    I'm not trying to add an annoying amount of detail, I just think it's relevant for discussion of wild taxation schemes. If you were to levy an insane tax on bullets it would be a pretty big problem.

  • by Ash Vince ( 602485 ) * on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @05:52PM (#42538239) Journal

    Let's say you're a 75 year old woman, weigh maybe 90 pounds. You live alone. you don't walk or sleep so good anymore. You live down town in a major city in the south. A 300 pound thug breaks into your home. By the way he's a convicted rapist.

    It's funny because a very noisy, home invasion type crime such is this is the only scenario to my mind where the right to keep a gun in your home is any use.

    The problem is that it hardly ever happens in the manner you describe. What actually happens is that the guy knocks on the door, old lady answers it and is then taken by surprise and subdued. As she was surprised a gun would only help if she was carrying it in her hand and only if she could keep some distance between her and her attacker which is unlikely.

    This to my mind is always the problem with the idea of guns as a method of preventing crime: criminals generally prefer to rob you on the quiet when you are out or to ambush you in such a way that nothing you can do (even if you are carrying a gun) will help you or put them at any risk.

    Guns are not really much of an advantage in a hand to hand combat scenario. They only really come into their own when at ranges greater than a few feet.

    I would be interested to know whether the amount of crimes they prevent actually balance the number of car jackings they make much easier (without a gun in your hand convincing someone not to just run you over would strike me as difficult) .

  • by orzetto ( 545509 ) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @06:10PM (#42538511)

    Just like the driver with seatbelts who gets stuck in a burning car, the man who finds out at the wrong time he is allergic to latex in condoms, or the patient who gets a vaccine develops the disease because the virus in the vaccine batch was not really dead after all.

    Not owning a gun makes you safer []. You may feel safer with a gun because you think you are in control, just like people feel safer in their cars but not in aeroplanes (even though last year only over 30,000 people died on cars in the US, none in airliners AFAIK).

    The whole picture includes you having a gun during a serious depression and killing yourself over a moment of desperation, your children finding the gun the one time you left it loaded, you discovering you are a sleepwalker the day you shoot your wife in your dreams, and that angry dumb person with a gun (who might have been satisfied by robbing you) that turns out to be a faster shot than you are, and leaves you in a pool of blood.

    Are you always less safe with a gun? No, in some limited cases it makes sense, such as when going in areas with aggressive wildlife (e.g. polar bears). In some occasions even in normal, civilian life it might be advantageous to have a gun to scare a casual would-be thief. But on average, all things considered, statistics shows that it is a safer decision not to have a gun around.

  • by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @06:25PM (#42538783)


    Chris Rock did a joke once where he said we should just add a $5,000 tax on bullets. So each bullet would be over $5,000.00. The way it goes,
    Yeah, it's a joke but that is how I see guns being defacto regulated: taxes.

    Last century but one, this was tried with printers' ink.

    Supreme Court ruled that you couldn't infringe a Constitutional Right via onerous taxation....

  • by SourceFrog ( 627014 ) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @06:48PM (#42539209)
    The deadliest school mass killing in US history [] didn't involve guns at all.
  • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @08:06PM (#42540211) Journal

    Not owning a gun makes you safer .

    Ah, the Lippmann study rears it's head.

    Hint: There is one time that people in the gun culture believe it is not merely moral, but sometimes morally required, to lie. That is when someone asks you about whether you have/what guns you have, in an inappropriate context and/or when they're not entitled to the information. An example of such a context is when you're in a doctor's office or emergency room being treated for something NOT related to an injury resulting from your own firearm.

    The right answer to such questions is "no", unless it's obvious (like from an accidental self-inflicted wound) the answer must be "yes" - but with details withheld.

    Such reporting bias invalidates studies dependent on questioning the subjects. (And how else can you obtain the information?) Authors of similar studies in the past (notably Kellerman, author of the debunked study behind the "43 times more likely" meme) have actually repudiated and withdrawn their own work once things like this were pointed out.

  • by wtansill ( 576643 ) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @10:28PM (#42541555)
    Sorry, but that study (and the one by Kellerman) have been pretty thoroughly debunked. If you want so good statistics, see the Kleck and Gertz study: []

    Also, read the book More Guns Less Crime, by Professor John Lott.

    Statistics aside, I have the moral right and duty to protect myself from unwarranted aggression. This right was recognized in the middle ages as existing independently of any government, and was codified in the English Bill of rights, which was one source of inspiration for our own Second Amendment. That a gun helps me in that effort is indisputable.

A committee takes root and grows, it flowers, wilts and dies, scattering the seed from which other committees will bloom. -- Parkinson