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United States Politics Technology

Obama Orders Feds To Study Smart Gun Technology (cnet.com) 935

An anonymous reader writes: Today U.S. President Barack Obama rolled out a set of executive actions aimed at reducing gun violence. The most controversial of the provisions requires licenses for those who sell guns at gun shows and on the internet, and forces background checks on buyers. There are also a number of measures dedicated to making background checks more foolproof and universal. Less controversial but more on-topic for Slashdot is that Obama is requiring the departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security to investigate smart gun technology. This can include RFID chips, fingerprint scanners, and other bits of technology. Their goal will be to "explore potential ways to further its use and development to more broadly improve gun safety." The new gun measures include a proposal for a $500 million investment into providing care for people with serious mental illnesses.
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Obama Orders Feds To Study Smart Gun Technology

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  • RF? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ebonum ( 830686 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2016 @08:39PM (#51244971)

    Give me the frequencies. I'll have jammers made in China within a month.

    • Re: RF? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by slasher999 ( 513533 )

      Exactly, this will simply waste tax payer dollars and add complexity to a safety device adding to the likelyhood it will fail to perform when needed.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Exactly, this will simply waste tax payer dollars and add complexity to a safety device adding to the likelyhood it will fail to perform when needed.

        So instead let's just not have safety devices because they might fail.

        • Re: RF? (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          There are already safety devices on guns. Its called a safety, or 3 piece trigger, or you know the mother of all safety features... KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF THE FUCKING TRIGGER.

          Unless the police and military adopt smart gun technology, then you arent going to get civilians to adopt it.

          • by hsthompson69 ( 1674722 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2016 @09:41PM (#51245319)

            Obligatory 4 rules

            1) treat every firearm as if it is loaded
            2) never point the firearm at anything you're not willing to destroy
            3) keep your finger off the trigger until you're ready to shoot (target clearly identified, good sight picture)
            4) be aware of what is in front of and behind your target

            #4, of course, is the "good guy" rule - if you're a terrorist, generally you don't care about that one.

            Frankly, firearms safety should be a required course in kindergarten (stop/don't touch/leave the area/tell and adult), with another course in high school or junior high.

          • Smart gun types (Score:5, Informative)

            by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2016 @07:16AM (#51247221) Homepage Journal

            Unless the police and military adopt smart gun technology, then you arent going to get civilians to adopt it.

            This is my stand on it. Thus far every 'smart gun' proposal has had even the most anti-gun police department lobby incredibly hard to make sure they were completely exempt from it. Despite police officers having a known rate for being killed by their own firearms taken away from them. It's something like 3 a year.

            Personally, I figure that any criminal who manages to gain a firearm will also manage to unlock or rekey it to himself given time, if not bypass the system completely, so it's only useful in the 'immediate' time frame.

            Anyways, I've done some research on this. Thus far, I'm familiar with 3 types of 'smart gun'.
            First, the oldest. Known as 'Magna-Trigger' [tarnhelm.com], this system uses a magnetic ring worn on a finger as a safety. Advantages: Non-electronic, reliable, fairly cheap(~$500 for complete setup), works through gloves and such. Has actually saved officer lives. Disadvantages: Only available for a few makes of firearm, it's a retrofit. The 'keys' are actually universal - if you have a magna-trigger ring, you can fire any magna-trigger firearm. So if a criminal manages to disable an officer, take the firearm AND the ring, he can fire the gun. If you want to be able to fire with either hand without moving the ring, you need to buy 2 rings($60 each).
            Second, RFID - either a ring or a watch. Substantially more expensive, I only know of models that fire .22LR, and that kicks a pistol that should cost under $400 up over $2,000, plus the watch is another $800 or something crazy like that. Upside - still generally reliable, you get a pimping watch. Downsides - from the description, if you're struggling for control of the firearm you've likely activated it. IE the criminal who has taken it from you can still shoot you with it as long as he or you doesn't move away quickly enough. If you're instinctively trying to grab the gun, your hand/wrist is likely close enough to arm the pistol.
            Third - fingerprint. Just as expensive as RFID. Has the advantage that it doesn't require other equipment. On the other hand, the finger scanners tend to be fiddly - work about half the time per read even when clean, and if they're dirty, good luck. The reader generally mucks with the ergonomics of the pistol - it's no longer as comfortable to hold. Also only available in .22lr. Can't be used while wearing gloves, or when it's too cold/hot out.

            A note on the .22lr thing: When I did some math, I figured that going to 9mm, the most common self-defense round, and about the lightest of the 'most common 5', I figured that the electronics of any 'smart' gun are likely to experience about an order of magnitude more shock with each firing - shock being a rapid change in acceleration. Combine this with a demand that the device would have to withstand tens of thousands of these shocks, and I wouldn't be surprised if the main reason they're only offered in .22lr wasn't that the maker has to start somewhere - but because anything heavier rapidly killed the electronics.

            Summary: No way in hell are the police, or anybody else interested in protecting things, voluntarily taking them anytime soon.

        • Re: RF? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2016 @10:25PM (#51245635) Journal

          Exactly, this will simply waste tax payer dollars and add complexity to a safety device adding to the likelyhood it will fail to perform when needed.

          So instead let's just not have safety devices because they might fail.

          Nod. Ok, let's field test them with patrol officers, (because officers having their gun taken and used against them is apparently a real thing) and then gradually make them a requirement for all branches of government. When the secret service adopts them, (according to the news, a secret service agent lost his gun just recently) I'll be right behind.

        • Because of people like you.

          Let's start by saying that I'm generally up for a day at a shooting range... I also like shooting pool... same principle but one is less noisy and I've never had cuts inflicted by mishandling a pool cue filled with GSR and oil which burns for hours.

          So, you honestly think that companies like Colt, S&W, H&K, Glock, etc... given the incentive could not, within a few years develop a smart trigger lock that would equal the reliability of the rest of their firearm? Are these com
    • Re:RF? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by zieroh ( 307208 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2016 @08:54PM (#51245067)

      TFS says "explore". Importantly, it also says "other". Rather than hysterical shrieking designed to encourage doing nothing, maybe you could suggest alternative approaches.

      Because "nothing" is no longer an option.

      • Because "nothing" is no longer an option.

        Gun ownership is up, gun crime is down in spite of the popularization of mass shootings in the media. Nothing seems to be working, albeit slowly. Maybe we should do nothing. It would be better than doing the wrong thing.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Gun ownership is up and gun crime is down has to be the most single dimensional means of thinking I've ever heard of. As if there's a single variable involved... add more guns and less will be used.

          1) It's likely the methods we used for measuring gun crimes has changed. ... minor impact to shift
          2) Law enforcement has in fact gotten much better
          3) The US has placed a measurable percentage of their population into prisons during this time.
          4) The criminals are more afraid of getting caught because of mass surve
  • by slasher999 ( 513533 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2016 @08:40PM (#51244975)

    One point not made above is that health care providers are now able to report to the FBI the names of patients who are mentally ill. Considering the other new actions are for the most part redundant this is really the most concerning point.

    • by charyou-tree ( 774046 ) <charyou-treeNO@SPAMnym.hush.com> on Tuesday January 05, 2016 @09:07PM (#51245141)
      How could a federal database of people with mental health problems (instantly searchable during the background check) possibly be in compliance with HIPAA?
      • by khasim ( 1285 )

        Worse still will be when companies run checks on prospective employees using that database.

        And yes, it will happen.

        Ever sought medical help for depression? You're flagged. Good luck getting a decent job after that.

        • by bonehead ( 6382 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2016 @10:12PM (#51245547)

          Which is exactly the reason why these new rules will only serve to aggravate the situation. They provide strong incentive for people who need mental health treatment to avoid seeking it.

          If the goal was really to save lives (it's not), then what you would do is make privacy in regards to mental health treatment iron-clad and airtight.

          If the goal is to simply circumvent the constitution (it is), then you do exactly what Obama is doing.

    • If true, it means someone with mental illness conditions will be much more reluctant than before to seek for health care provided his/her file can be transfer to the FBI. That is a silly measure that will cause more harm than good on the long term.

      About two thirds of the fatalities by firearms are suicids. If the goal is to protect the population against mass killings, it will have some effects on the people needing help if they are suicidals.

      This seems to me like a lot of bullshit and not well designed mea

  • by gavron ( 1300111 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2016 @08:40PM (#51244977)

    The regulations would hope to create a firearm that only is
    a) Shot by good people, and
    b) Is only able to shoot at bad people
    That way nobody ever needs to worry about guns.

    This is as misguided as "encryption that only good people can break"
    or "cars that can only hit bad pedestrians" etc.

    Smarter guns in the hands of equally stupid bad guys will do equally
    stupid bad things.


    • by zlives ( 2009072 )

      as long there is a back door to the smart gun that law-enforcement can use to disable the smart gun when appropriate i am all for it...

    • Or this is an attempt to stop the scourge of baby assassins. You have to worry about those kids, they are the terrorists from within: http://forward.com/opinion/176... [forward.com]
    • by zieroh ( 307208 )

      Your summary of the situation is your own. It's also unnecessarily defeatist, and more than a bit reductionist. Perhaps you'd be willing to engage in an actual intelligent conversation on the topic, rather than just stupid rhetoric?

    • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

      Best case scenario:
      Gun that doesn't shoot you when it's taken from you.
      Worst case scenario (most likely) :
      Gun that doesn't shoot when you need it to.

      Still yet I like the idea. I just don't think I will like the implementation.

      In gun's defense most of the time you don't need to shoot all someone has to do is see it to de-escalate the problem.

      Still you wouldn't carry around a toy pistol and just hope you could could scare an off an attacker before they realised would you?

  • by zlives ( 2009072 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2016 @08:41PM (#51244983)

    my gun is stuck on "Please do not power off or unplug your gun. Installing update 1 of 106"

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      A new device has to be connected to your smart phone. Before every new operational cycle is allowed to be released an EULA has to be understood and a few questions clicked on. The EULA is long and a lock out time is allowed so the user can get each question correct. Only then will the device release control for exactly one operation. 5 requests result in a a short time out function.
      All usage events are logged with gps and phoned home.
  • Sure! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by therealkevinkretz ( 1585825 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2016 @08:41PM (#51244987)

    I'll bet my life on a smart gun working as soon as law enforcement (and, for that matter, the Secret Service) is confident enough in them to use them too.

    • We should get smart shooters too. Most of them seem to keep hitting stop signs and electricity transformers.

    • Shadowrun has taught me a different definition of the term 'smart gun'. You know, link up to my cyber-eyes, mind-triggered, auto-aim-adjust...

      Where did this new definition come from? It does not seem nearly as cool.

  • by BoRegardless ( 721219 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2016 @08:50PM (#51245039)

    Everyone will be finally safe.

    • by zieroh ( 307208 )

      Sarcasm duly noted. So I take it you would be in favor of doing nothing, rather than something, on the grounds that you think nothing will work?

      How defeatist.

      • Given that there is zero or negative correlation between gun laws' strictness and the number of gun related crimes, the claim that gun restrictions are worth doing needs to be questioned. Whilst the UK - where there are virtually no guns - is held up as THE alternative, the idea that you can actually get there is silly, and the present situation is appalling. But given that Chicago sees far more gun crime with far stricter laws than Texas cities, there is an issue to consider.
      • by bonehead ( 6382 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2016 @10:36PM (#51245699)

        So I take it you would be in favor of doing nothing, rather than something,

        Yes. Doing nothing is always preferable to doing something harmful just to be able to say "we did something".

  • Brouhaha. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by msauve ( 701917 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2016 @08:51PM (#51245045)
    "The most controversial of the provisions requires licenses for those who sell guns at gun shows and on the internet, and forces background checks on buyers."

    It's all bullshit. Those on the right hype it as an unconstitutional overreach. Obama hypes it as a significant change which will help close the "gun show loophole."

    They're both exaggerating, extremely. The only thing Obama did was to emphasize already existing law/regulation. It has long been the case that anyone who is "in the business" of selling guns (i.e. regularly for profit) must have a Federal Firearms License, and do background checks on those they sell to. It's never mattered where the guns were sold, it's based solely on whether the seller is doing it as a business. What Obama did changes nothing, except perhaps serve notice that they'll be paying more attention to enforcing existing law/regulation.
    • It's all bullshit. Those on the right hype it as an unconstitutional overreach. Obama hypes it as a significant change which will help close the "gun show loophole."

      I think you're missing the point.

      The point you're trying to make will be lost on just about everyone. He's not adding much (if anything), but it will be seen by people as "the president can make up new gun laws".

      The net result will be to set a precedent in the minds of most Americans that the president can make up whatever laws he wants when it applies to guns.

      • Spot on. The left wing will be mollified because "look, the president made up new gun laws all by his widdle self!", and the right wing will be incensed because, "look, the president made up new gun laws all by his widdle self!".

        Obviously, this guy is a uniter, not a divider :) /sarc

    • by zieroh ( 307208 )

      So if his action was (as you seem to indicate) a no-op, then you've got nothing to complain about. Right?


      • by msauve ( 701917 )
        In this case, the only official result I've found is a new (or revised) publication from the BATF [atf.gov]. If what it contains is the full extent, then you're right, I have no complaint because there is no substantive change. If you're aware of any other authoritative reference on any resulting changes, please provide a citation.

        OTOH, Obama does have a history of unconstitutional overreach. Notably in delaying implementation (i.e. enforcement) of some sections of the health care bill he pushed. That was in direct
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bobbied ( 2522392 )

      Well, what Obama SAYS he's doing and what is ACTUALLY going to happen are likely to be totally different things.

      What this really was all about was poking the democratic base in the butts so they will vote next time around by making some grand promises about doing something to appeal to the emotion that "something has got to be done!" AND Poking the Republicans in the eye in an effort to discredit them for "not doing anything" about the "problem" of gun violence (and divert attention from the Obamacare repe

  • license (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The most controversial of the provisions requires licenses for those who sell guns at gun shows and on the internet, and forces background checks on buyers.

    Not true. Licenses are already required for those "engaged in the business of selling firearms" and background checks are required for those purchasing from said licensees and this executive action doesn't change that.

    • The most controversial of the provisions requires licenses for those who sell guns at gun shows and on the internet, and forces background checks on buyers.

      Not true. Licenses are already required for those "engaged in the business of selling firearms" and background checks are required for those purchasing from said licensees and this executive action doesn't change that.

      No, but the treat is clearly that the Executive branch wishes to expand the definition of "being in business" to include a whole lot more than what it is understood to mean today. When pressed on this, Josh Earnest CLEARLY indicated that selling as few as ONE firearm, if conducted in some yet to be specified conditions, could make you a dealer in the eyes of the law. I don't know what those conditions are, but the threat is this could be onerous and if pressed in the courts found to be illegal.

      The proble

  • by Bruce66423 ( 1678196 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2016 @09:00PM (#51245101)
    The primary objection to this package is that it reveals how far the US Constitution has drifted from its moorings; there's no way this sort of decision should be being made by the President.
  • by TigerPlish ( 174064 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2016 @09:06PM (#51245137)

    There's still a marked stigma associated with mental illness in the US. It has been eroding over many years now.

    The more the stigma erodes, the more people will seek treatment.

    It's not as easy as the vast majority of people think it is, seeking treatment. It's a very deliberate move. Akin to pulling the trigger when the sight's on something alive. That's how heavy making that first call is.

    Just sayin'. Chip away at that stigma, chip away at the violence.

  • by onkelonkel ( 560274 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2016 @09:09PM (#51245143)

    As someone who is not a citizen of the USA I have to ask, what do Americans think is the answer?
    How do you allow normal, not-crazy, law abiding citizens reasonable access to firearms and keep crazy people and criminals from getting them?
    As far as I can tell, the answer is - "You can't do both" and the mass shootings are therefor acceptable because they can't be avoided.

    • by hsthompson69 ( 1674722 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2016 @09:24PM (#51245227)

      ...who in this case, are law abiding civilians.

      You can't possibly stop crazy people from getting weapons - be it butter knives, glocks, or automobiles. What you can do is give innocent, law abiding civilians the opportunity to defend themselves in case of an emergency, while they wait for the swat team to arrive.

      This kind of setup won't stop jihadis or the mentally ill from attacking in the first place, but it will limit the damage they can do. Normal criminals, on the other hand, will likely adjust their behavior to non-confrontational types of property crime, than robberies, rapes, etc, as they adjust to the new risk/reward ratio.

      Mexico, which has exactly one government owned gun store, where it is highly illegal to own all kinds of firearms, still sees massive amounts of violence because criminals don't follow gun laws. They bribe cops, pay off smugglers, or just wait for the US federal government to come on down and sell them "Fast and Furious"ly.

      So, since mass shootings can't be avoided by any laws, the best thing you can really do is make sure that those willing to train and carry, have the opportunity to defend themselves and others.

      • by laoseth ( 955776 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2016 @12:09AM (#51246205)
        I've always honestly wondered, you really want to be a guy shooting a gun when the cops show up to an active shooter situation. I think at this point, you are what 50 - 100 times more likely to be shot by the police then "crazy people" as it stands, and thats without even actually being armed. Now assuming you don't die by hand of the shooter or the cops, what happens when you mistake an innocent as a shooter, or shoot them accidently, because its dark, or things are a little hectic when you are in the middle of the firefight. You go to jail for assault? Manslaughter? Maybe you get off for your attempts at heroism, but I can gaurentee you that the victim, or theirfamily, are going to sue the sh*t out of you, and you are probably going to lose. I don't want to come off as an ass, but I have never heard this arugments fully explained. It just seems less then fully though out.
    • by Kohath ( 38547 )

      Human problems don't generally have something that's "the answer". You can't just turn a person off and back on. All of the "solutions" are usually bad in some way.

      No one is even trying to avoid mass shootings. These gun restrictions don't work and everyone knows it. But playing the game brings in the political contributions.

      If the President wanted to help, he could try to have empathy for the half of America who didn't vote for him. He could try to compromise, meet people halfway, and solve some probl

  • You mean like an FFL, a Federal Firearms License?

    Tell me more about your novel ideas.

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    Its over. Guns are out there. Accept it. The notion of "but if the guns weren't there" is meaningless. They're there. They're not going away.

    Come up with a different idea... if you're able... and if not... maybe you're not an "idea person" and should just be quiet.

  • What we'll end up with is a plastic projectile able to change course mid-flight, in rifle caliber.. maybe even in pistol.

    *sigh* and then the old-schoolers will bitch and retch that these newfangled 'lectronic steerable plastic bullits are nowhere near as elegant as the JHPs of the past, guided by the eyeball and the rifled barrel.

    There's no winning!

  • by Sowelu ( 713889 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2016 @10:24PM (#51245629)

    I use my gun exclusively at the target range. It's a fun, if expensive, pastime. I don't really have an interest in using it for self defense; I think that would encourage me towards unsafe behaviors and make me more likely to get killed (compared to fleeing the area / hiding / giving the mugger my money). Staying alive is more important than ego. Also, they tend to get stolen by unstable family members or robbers or otherwise used against you, and I'm not willing to invest the $$$$$ in a super ultra fancy foolproof safe (though we do take lesser precautions).

    Therefore, for my use case, having a gun that fails "off" instead of failing "on" is great. Lock it to me, and if it stops working--guess I'm renting a gun that day. Maybe find some way to lock it to certain locations like ranges if the tech can do that. I wouldn't count on the protections being perfect of course, but if they stopped 9 out of 10 accidents, that's a big plus.

  • by AchilleTalon ( 540925 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2016 @10:57PM (#51245815) Homepage
    Will it run systemd?
  • Only in the States (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jandersen ( 462034 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2016 @04:30AM (#51246943)

    Let me see - something like 90% of the American population want tighte controls on guns - certainly a solid majority. The President wants to do the right thing, morally and democratically, by introducing some really quite moderate steps to control gun availability. But somehow this is impossible, because one industry, the arms manufaturers, holds the whole country to ransom by paying politicians to oppose anything, however minor, reasonable or even symbolic, that looks like it was against their financial interests. And the really, really amazing thing is - these people and their bought politicians are not rounded up and put on trial for corruption. In all other industrialised countries in the world, what Americans call lobbying, would be called by its right name: corruption.

    I won't ask why, and I won't try to argue with people; I know my comments will be attacked wildly and irrationally and I will be called 'troll' and other nice things. It doesn't matter, but I think it is important that people - in this case Americans - with sane, moderate views let their opinions be heards and felt, and that they don't allow the gun extremists to bully them into silence.

  • uhhh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SuperDre ( 982372 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2016 @05:30AM (#51247015) Homepage

    if you call requiring a license to sell guns the most controversial, then there is something really wrong with you americans.. Any normal thinking person would think requiring a license to sell guns is a good thing, hell even requiring a license to buy a gun is normal thinking...

Build a system that even a fool can use and only a fool will want to use it.