The Government Issues A New Report On Safe-Gun Technology Which Moves The Discussion Backwards.

It’s official.  The newspaper of record, a.k.a. The New York Times, has just announced its support of a new government statement on safe-gun technology which probably represents the last thing the Obama Administration has to say about guns.  And if The New York Times believes that this report is the non-plus-ultra statement about safe guns, then this must be a very solid and very impressive report.  In fact, it’s not.

safegunThe report is an amateurish cut-and-paste job which was obviously put together so that someone deep inside the bowels of the Department of Justice could complete some end-of-year checklist and get on with looking for a new job. But of course once The New York Times gives this report its official imprimatur you can bet this shabby effort to make something out of nothing will become the new argument for adoption of safe-gun technologies, an argument that has been floating around for more than 20 years under the guise of how digital innovation can help us be safe with guns.

Entitled “Baseline Specifications for Law Enforcement Service Pistols with Security Technology,” the report is an effort to nudge the safe-gun discussion a little further by setting out design and performance standards that would have to be met by any manufacturer hoping to sell such a product to any federal agency whose personnel carries guns.  Actually, since the document is not any kind of official RFP, it represents no legal or practical advance at all.  For the most part the text consists of nothing more than a combination of the government’s handgun performance criteria which will be used to possibly adopt a new military handgun sometime in the future, along with design specifications which were taken from an RFP issued by the FBI for a new pistol awarded to Glock.

Buried near the end of the report is a brief section which describes the safe-gun technology itself except that all it basically says is that some kind of ‘security device’ will be a permanent part of the gun, will be programmable and may include something worn by the operator, like a wristband or a ring.  By the way, if the security device ‘malfunctions’ the gun will still work.

Now I thought the whole point of safe-gun technology is to prevent a gun from being used at any time except by someone digitally authorized to use the gun. But the problem with these digital gizmos is they need some kind of power source which comes from a battery and batteries wear out.  Is the average cop going to check to make sure while he’s on the job that the gizmo is always ready to go? He won’t, which is exactly why the gun defaults to being used by anyone which is exactly why nobody’s going to adopt this gun.

The NYT Editorial Board says this report is a positive step forward in the development of safe-gun technology because it creates “industry standards for reliable battery power in a smart gun, for ensuring unhindered speed in drawing the weapon and for the distance allowed between the gun and its owner’s ID device.”  In fact, what the report does is give the gun lobby an excellent opportunity to once again claim that gun-grabbing bureaucrats will find any reason to take away our guns.  The NRA called the report another example of “empty gestures meant to placate a gun control constituency that was disappointed Congress had spurned efforts to restrict Second Amendment rights.,” and went on to list several parts of the report (beyond what I mentioned above) which demonstrated the lack of substance and understanding about the actual use of safe guns.

The gun industry opposes safe-gun technology because it fights any effort to reduce gun violence through government mandates, government regulations or anything else that interferes with the industry’s ability to control the kinds of products it decides to put out for sale.  But the gun violence prevention community shouldn’t make it any easier for the gun lobby to pursue its aims, and the decision of the NYT Editorial Board to promote this report moves the safe-gun argument in a direction it shouldn’t take.



Here’s A Safe Gun Device That Does What It’s Supposed To Do: Make A Gun Safe.

Guess what?  There’s actually a safe-gun device out there that really works.  Well, it’s not out there quite yet.  But I fooled around with prototypes that will fit most pistols and the AR, and they really do what they are supposed to do, namely, only allow the gun to be used by the person who owns or uses that gun.  There’s been a lot of chatter lately about safe-gun technologies that kind of work, or maybe work, or work only on one particular gun, but this device gets beyond all those problems and is so simple and well-designed that how could it not work?

In the interests of full disclosure as we like to say, I have no financial connection or investment in the company – Gun Guardian, LLC – which developed and patented these devices.  I wish I did.  But I don’t, which is why these products aren’t on the market just yet.  But if you want to get in on the ground floor from a financial point of view, I don’t think there’s a better time and I don’t know of a better product, and with that said, let me tell you why.

guardian                First and foremost, the device is basically a trigger lock that is enabled with a finger-tip security code which can be changed or set with multiple codes.  Better yet, the device fits on the accessory rail of most polymer-frame pistols and ARs so it can be readily attached just like a laser or a light.  When the correct security code is entered, a spring-loaded shield opens to reveal the trigger and then can be easily re-set.  I drew the prototype pistol up to the firing position and it added hardly any time in moving the pistol from the ‘ready’ to the ‘go.’  The device for the AR works exactly the same way but replaces the hand-grip of the weapon, so it doesn’t add any extra bulk or size to the gun itself. You can view these products on the company’s website, complete with action videos that can also be viewed on YouTube, but believe me, they work.

In addition to how well these products work, here’s a few other things to consider. The company is owned by two Florida cops who happen to know a lot about safety because they are currently detectives with the Florida Bureau of Fire, Arson and Explosion Investigations.  Which means that when they talk about gun safety, they can’t be accused of being a couple of tree-hugging liberals who just want to get rid of all the guns.  Much of the opposition to safe-gun technology has been based on the idea that it’s just another way to get around the 2nd Amendment and make it harder or more expensive for the gun guys to get their hands on guns. Anyone who would accuse the Gun Guardian owners of being anti-gunners is no longer in control of his mind.

More important, these devices don’t involve any engineering within the guns themselves.  As I said earlier, basically what we have here is nothing more than a trigger lock, except that the lock can only be disengaged either with a finger-tip combination or, if the product developers wanted, they could also add a finger-tip scanning device.  Either way, it’s a standalone product that would be purchased independent of the gun.

And that’s the best part of the story of all.  Because the cost of the device doesn’t change the cost of the gun, which means that this product can be purchased at a later time. It can also be purchased not just by a gun owner but by someone who doesn’t even own a gun but wants someone else to keep their guns locked up and safe.  The Ad Council has just started a massive publicity campaign on gun safety with a message that simply says, “Lock it up.” Wouldn’t a clever counter-top Gun Guardian display in every Brookstone store net some sales?