Let's Build Smarter Guns

Tickets to the gunshow.

Like everyone else, I've been thinking about guns.

I have what I think is a conclusive argument against the 2d Amendment, which is, in a nutshell, weapons technology has arrived at a fundamentally different circumstance than that in which the Amendment was written: then, the state and the people had access to the same technology; now, the state will always outgun the people. Always. Because of the massive resources needed to build the weapons the state has access to, no private person or group of persons will be able to match that armory. So the rationale of the Amendment, which was to eliminate a disparity in armament between the state and the people, is rendered moot. The state is going to win that arms race every time.

Also: the Framers had no notion of nonviolent protests (the Tea Party was the closest thing to that, but it was an attack on supplies, perhaps similar to a boycott or strike, but not a true massive nonviolent resistance.) Here in the 21st Century we know that nonviolent resistance is vastly more effective in resisting and overturning governments than armed rebellion, especially in the age of the Internet. So, even if the government/populace arms disparity cannot be levelled, the people possess a more potent weapon which cannot be seized by government.


But then I started thinking: Even if we allow that people will want to keep their guns for hunting or sport or even "self-defense" (there are problems with this idea, of course, but let's skip them) - WE COULD BE BUILDING SMARTER GUNS.

My first idea was guns that can tell what they're shooting at. It's well within current tech to have a computer recognize and sort visual input and tell whether it's looking at humans or not.

You could theoretically build guns that could ONLY be used for target practice or hunting, and which would minimize hunting accidents as well. Guns that wouldn't shoot orange, guns that wouldn't fire at faces, or at bipeds.

So if you were truly just a gun hobbyist and you wanted to have a gun that was MORE safe just to hunt deer or ducks or shoot targets or whatever, you could buy a gun that wouldn't work on anything else - you know, if you liked guns but didn't want your 2-year-old accidentally shooting his brother or your 15-year-old bringing them in to shoot up their school.

Ok, but what about guns that are meant to be used on people - guns for self-defense. Could you build a gun that took a palmprint or retina scan or even just a password to unlock, so that only you could use it, like in Skyfall? We password-protect our iPads, we could surely do that with our guns. That would make each "self-defense" gun way safer; it wouldn't prevent a Trayvon Martin shooting or a Virgina Tech, but it might prevent situations in which a gun is used against its owner by an attacker; situations in which the owner is afraid the attacker will seize the gun, and so fires; and situations where the gun is taken by someone else to shoot up a school.

Ok. But what about the asshole who just snaps the password/target recognition module off the gun - "jailbreaks" it? Or the criminal network that moves jailbroken guns?

Well, you could design the password/recognition module in such a way that tampering it disabled the firing mechanism. I suppose someone could always put the firing mechanism back together from scratch, but now you're at a point where you might as well be machining your own weapons; if you need to go to an underworld gun expert to get your gun to fire indiscriminately, that's a pretty big hassle, and enough to discourage less-invested criminals.

Or, you could put a tracker in the gun.

The tracker could send an alarm if it's tampered with, but it could also keep count of when and where the gun is fired. It could send an alert when the gun goes off. If you're using a gun in legit self-defense, you want the police notified, anyway; with a gun that automatically alerts the cops when it fires, you would have backup on the way the moment you pulled the trigger. There could be a mechanism for calling the police whenever a gun was fired outside of a shooting range, or when the tracker was disabled. If a gun was fired in a school, the police would know from the first shot.

So yeah. If we can't get rid of guns, let's at least build smarter ones.

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