Recently the "iP1" was released to the market. One of the first handheld boomsticks to hold the term "Smart" with it.
In a nutshell, this gun won't fire unless the linked item is with it. (in this case a watch)
The idea is the person who owns the gun also owns the watch. If the watch is not with in X inches of the gun, the gun's locking system and safety won't let it fire.
If my memory is correct, the State of Maryland passed a law in 2002 that requires all new guns sold in Maryland to be "smart guns" not later than three years after the first model comes on the market…so the clock is ticking…maybe.
Sounds great, but there are some issues that need answers. It is not the "magic bullet" (pun intended!) to end gun crime.
More after the squiggle.
People have thrown out the "Smart Gun" as a way to end gun violence and suicides. Like it is some amazing thing that would solve the problem.
It is not. At best it will be a small, little tool that will have some use in specific situations.
I don't think what i'm reading about on the iP1 is the amazing thing the marketing is making it.
Lets look at the new shinny and use it as an example of a good attempt with a lot of marketing hype.
The "Smart Gun - iP1"
The iP1 is a 22 LR calibre pistol with a 10 round magazine standard (so illegal in NYS), semi-automatic, with an electronic magazine disconnect and the unexplained "different operating modes". (single shot per trigger pull is the normal mode of civilian weapons, does this have three round burst or full auto? Or maybe dry fire mode for training?)
The gun also can have camera's attached as well as other tools (scopes, training target identifiers, etc) It also meets the ATF standard for drop safety.
The Smart part of the gun is the (sold separately for some reason) iW1 RFID watch. This is paired up with the gun with a "PIN code entry and PIN code management for weapon enablement" (assuming with no information that you put in a PIN to let the gun work, and that you can have more than one gun "attached" to the watch with a different PIN).
Of course the watch also has "charge level indicator for watch and weapon, time-controlled weapon deactivation, extensive watch functions, waterproof interchangeable straps, power supply for 5,000 rounds or a minimum of one year standby, depending on operation."
How this works
The gun, around $1,399 before taxes (a brand new .22lr pistol from Smith and Weston runs at the high end around $380), also requires the iW1 watch - $399.
You take the gun, program a PIN into it, then link up the watch (put in the PIN to the gun). At that point, the gun won't fire unless the watch is turned on, has the PIN put in and is with in 10 inches of the gun. It will also "shut down" (time controlled deactivation) after a preset time. So if you don't shoot in say 10 minutes the gun would shut down and you would need to re-activate it.
So, if you want to shoot the gun, you put on the watch, (maybe enter a PIN in the watch, maybe once it is in, it always works? not a lot of documentation yet on this but if it is always on, what is the time controlled deactivation thing?), draw the gun, and if you have the gun with in 10 inches of the watch, it will let you pull the trigger and make boom-stick go boom. (well pop, it is a 22)
Breaking down the information
We don't have all the fine details, but we can speculate on how this would work and where it would best fit in the gun owners world. Which will also point out the current weakness in the system that will need a lot of tweaking before we can say it is a best solution.
Lets start with the big fear of gun owners: the gun won't go boom when I need it to. This could be valid, you have two batteries in this system. The watch will last "5,000 rounds" - maybe, or the gun batteries will. There has to be some mechanical locking system powered by an electronic activated command device. That would take power to move the locking device on and off. (5,000 times is the apparent rated amount for the batteries) Or one year of standby.
Think of your cell phone, you have a battery in it, forget to plug it in over night and the next day your getting a ride with a friend to work so you don't have your charger. On the way home you see an accident grab your phone and…the battery is dead. The gun owner worries about the same thing. (pardon me rapist, I need to change the batteries, can you hold on for a bit?)
You have more moving parts too. What little there is about the iP1 implies that the gun will move something to block the chamber from accepting a round. The chamber is where the round sits when it is ready to fire. Most gun owners who carry do so in "condition two" - round in the chamber, hammer down, full magazine, on safe. So all you have to do is take the gun off safe and depending on the gun cock the hammer or pull the trigger. This would mean you would have to carry in "condition three" (no round in the chamber). Or it could mean that the device would remove the round from the chamber when the watch got to far away or timed out, using more power.
Another fear is jamming: Both physically and electronically. Physically because of all the additional moving parts, but electronically because many who advocate Smart Gun tech then go on to talk about putting jammers at schools and malls. What happens if a bad guy has a jammer? Would the cops be unable to shoot him? This would be the ultimate hack target - something to block guns or unblock them. We already have hackers stealing info from credit cards with RFID's in them, talk about a tempting target.
Another fear is losing/dropping/breaking the watch: Or the example I was given by a police officer on why they would never use Smart Guns - the need to shoot with the other hand. This happens a lot. I've been hunting with people and watched them have to shift to the other hand to shoot around an obstacle. In the military i've trained to shoot and reload with my off hand as though I was wounded.
This could be a problem, you only have 10 inches for the watch and gun to work together. You have your gun out, watch on the right hand and need to get your door open. You have your keys in your front right pocket. You move your gun to your left hand (disabling the gun) and dig your keys out.
More than one user: most gun owners have more than one person who uses the guns. (we have three in our home, and the fourth is about a year away). Do they need to buy several watches?
Can the gun be used by more than one watch? If yes, what stops someone from linking their watch to your gun? If no, how does the spouse use the gun when the other one with the watch is out and about? Do they leave the watch near/with the gun? or what if it gets lost? (I've lost my cell phone for three days and I use that often, when would you notice the watch was missing?)
Why this is not the "magic bullet" to gun deaths.
Some of the marketing and news hype states that this watch/gun combo will be "a landmark event in efforts to reduce gun violence, suicides, and accidental shootings."
Uh, no. That is just marketing. Gun violence - nothing stops the gun from being used by a person with both parts. The high cost would have greater result in it rarely being used in crimes. If the watch can be linked to any gun, hacking the gun would happen. As long as you can change the PIN, there is a way to change the link. (We "Jail-break" any gun or phone)
Suicides - maybe a little. When someone commits suicide with a firearm, it is often one they have legally and have access to. If they have access to the gun, the watch is likely to be near by. If the gun owner family member thinks "hey this is a smart gun, I don't' need to lock it up any more" the young depressed family member just has to steal the watch with the gun rather than find the keys for the safe, the keys for the trigger lock, the combination for the fire safe storing the ammo.
Accidental (Negligent) shootings - some. It would stop the little kid finding the gun kind of tragic shooting, assuming the watch was not left with the gun. But the much more common Negligent (not accidental, negligent!) shooting is the gun owner shooting the gun. One would expect the gun owner would also have the watch with them. (and I can see idiots "forgetting" they had the watch on while playing with the gun they did not unload because "I don't have the watch on it won't work")
Also, this is one model of gun. Even assuming that every new gun made next year had this Smart gun tech, there are still 350 million guns in civilian hands that do not have this and likely can't be retrofitted. A gun will last over 100 years if cared for. I have a 1898 rifle that we still shoot regularly.
So is "Smart Guns" just a cool idea that has no use?
No, it is a great idea. As time goes by, the price should come down. Reliably should go up. However it is not going to appeal to the normal gun owner, even if the price came down to the cost of non-tech guns. Mostly for the reasons above.
Where these guns would be best is for police and military. These are people most likely to face having their gun taken away from them by assailants. They also are the ones that have a support system to keep the batteries up to date, maintain and test regularly. They are also the most likely to need to switch hands when shooting.
If the guns are reliably enough for the police to be using as issued weapons, then the average gun owner will be more likely to consider buying one if it is a reasonable price. But until the Smart Gun tech is reliable enough for police and military use, there will not be much civilian support for it.
Here is the link to the iPx http://www.armatix.de/...