Looking at the recent tragedies in New York, the murder of the firefighters, and Newtown, the murder of children and teachers, there is a common thread. That common thread expands beyond mass murder to the gun violence arenas of accidental shootings and criminal use of firearms. The common thread is that the weapons in New York and Connecticut were not legally purchased by the end user. The New York shooter was a convicted felon who could not have legally purchased a firearm. At Sandy Hook Elementary the shooter used guns purchased legally by a relative, his now dead mother, but not legally purchased by him.

Transfer of possession of firearms is one of the great loopholes in the background check system. No matter how many criminals and/or violently mental ill persons one prevents from making a legal initial purchase, subsequent transfer of possession is largely uncontrolled. These subsequent transfers include, probably not naming them all, gifting guns to friends and family, access to guns by other household members (Lanza), selling guns to third parties, including stranger to stranger as informally as yard or garage sales, having guns stolen in burglaries and personal robberies and losing a firearm only to have it found by a stranger.

Years ago a very specific problem arose that continues to this day. It came to the attention of the authorities that many shootings of police officers happened when criminals, during a struggle or by guile, managed to gain possession of an officer’s weapon and shot him/her with his/her own weapon. It is estimated today that 40% of NYPD officers who are shot are the victims of bullets fired from their own guns.

More than two decades ago, technology began to explore solutions to the law officer problem by beginning to develop “smart guns”. These are guns that can only be fired by recognized persons. The technology was encouraged during the 1990’s, but funding dried up after the Clinton administration. Today, researchers into this technology are working without sufficient funding and often with computer chips as much as ten years old. The research and development does continue to some extent outside the United States.

Technologies include at least the following that have existing working prototypes. Fingerprint identification requires thumbprint recognition to activate a firearm. Magnetic ring technology, trade name Magna Trigger, requires the user to wear a magnetic ring to fire the weapon. This is available as an after-market retrofit but is not available through any manufacturer of firearms. RFID technology uses radio frequency identification through radio chips that send and receive radio signals to activate a firearm. One trade name associated with RFID is Trigger Smart of Ireland. After-market is available for this technology, but again no manufacturer offers it on their firearms. RFID after-market kits cost about $50 to produce and are complicated to retrofit. If added to original manufacture the cost and complexity would both be significantly reduced. Dynamic grip recognition uses biometrics to recognize the unique grip of an authorized user. Development of this technology is currently stalled due to lack of funding.

Why is this safer gun technology not being pursued? Largely because of resistance from the NRA and gun manufacturers. To paraphrase the author of an article on the subject for Computerworld online , there is no interest on the part of manufacturers. Or, to quote Joe Dowling, General Manager of Georgia Tech Ireland, developer of Trigger Smart,

“There’s quite a bit of resistance from the gun industry in the U.S. to the technology.”

Lucas Mearian, the author of the Computerworld piece summed it up this way,

“One problem, proponents say, is perspective. Gun enthusiasts and organizations such as the National Rifle Association may view smart gun technology as gun control instead of gun safety.”

So far, smart gun technology has been largely limited to authorized user shooting, but it can be even more effective. First, it should not be simply “authorized users.” It should be restricted to lawful purchasers. That makes background checks truly useful. Friends, family members and strangers, any of whom might not pass a background check, would be prevented from using such a firearm. Upon private sale, the guns would have to be recalibrated to a new authorized user. This likely would be done by a licensed technician requiring a background check as part of a private firearms transaction.

Remember that piece I did last week where I talked about nine ideas for gun control ? One was repealing the gun manufacturer liability shield law. If manufacturers faced liability, might they not be more interested in R & D for safe gun technology? I think so.

But, we need not stop at user recognition technology. Here are some other technologies to consider.

Technology could easily create a mechanism to return a gun’s safety to the locked position after a set amount of time, say 30 seconds. Any deer will be long gone after 30 seconds. Such an auto-safety engaging mechanism will help prevent accidental gun death and injury, but will also restrict how long a would be mass killer can use one gun.

Another idea might be a firing delay that restricts firing to say two rounds per second. Folks could still have semi-automatic weapons that fired without manual cocking, but the frequency of firing would be restricted by technological advances in gun safety.

There would, of course, be resistance. There was resistance to wearing seatbelts. There was a time when construction workers didn’t wear hard hats. That there would be resistance is not an excuse for inaction. Nor is it an excuse that it would take a generation to have new safer guns become the majority of guns owned. This happened with cars too. Only over time did safer cars replace unsafe cars as the unsafe cars found their way to junk yards. That this is a longer range view or that it will face resistance should not stop us from at least considering the possibilities that technology offers in combination with other solutions to gun violence.

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Years ago a very specific problem arose that continues to this day. It came to the attention of the authorities that many shootings of police officers happened when criminals, during a struggle or by guile, managed to gain possession of an officer’s weapon and shot him/her with his/her own weapon. It is estimated today that 40% of NYPD officers who are shot are the victims of bullets fired from their own guns.

There is a bit of trouble getting such stats but of the 616 law enforcement officers killed on duty by criminals from 1994 through 2003, 52 were killed with their own weapon, amounting to 8 percent. If you do the math and check the FBI database it ends up between 7-10% for most years.

“may view smart gun technology as gun control instead of gun safety.”

Well they seem to be right in this case.


That’s all fine and good Elijah but who needs gun safety or limited magazine capacity?

I’ve read thousands of words here on TMV promising as truth the “FACT” that Civilian guns are absolutely nothing like their Military Assault Rifles counterparts.

The constant repetition of these NRA talking point “Truths” has got some starting to believe that these problems are all in the mind of anti-gun nuts… And then there’s this:

FULLY AUTOMATIC “stock” AR-15’s – Bump fire from the shoulder

“BUT,” the ‘Progunians’ (rhymes with Kenyans) will wail, “Thats’ not fair! Those fine young people had to be trained and it took a lot of practice.”

To which many might wonder if 15 minutes of playtime with their bud’s (and their Bud’s) would constitute training and practice. The army had us on the rifle range two days before passing out ammunition.

FWIW – Watch it again and see if you can count the number of rounds fired. If you could, see if you can count to 75 as fast as this kid shoots 75 rounds.

To quote Roseanne Roseannadanna, “Never mind.”


ES, I am all for “only owner can use gun” modifications if practical. What I mean is many guns are stolen/borrowed, and if it is too easy as in semi to automatic kits are, then it may be a waste of time. I would suggest that the changing of the code to operate the firearm could only be done at a certified conversion center and the new owner has to have a background check. Yes, you would have to leave the firearm. However, in parallel with that program would be a buy-back or trade in program.
No perfect program will probably be created, but the legacy firearms and mega-mags out there have to eventually be reduced and one or more of the smart weapons programs implemented.
If Microsoft bought Colt, you would see how fast “smart” would be smart.
Now we need an acronym for SMART.



For the last several weeks anytime an article or comment has referred to an AR-15 as an assault weapon EEllis has jumped in claiming that that was untrue and that anyone making such a claim was being intentionally misleading.

His reason seems be an NRA talking-point claiming that AR-15’s are not assault weapons “because they are ‘semiautomatic’ and cannot be fired ‘automatically’ without major changes requiring machining and / or installing illegal parts.“

The videos I posted show a stock AR-15 firing in the ‘fully automatic’ mode. This, I thought, should have put the NRA myth to rest but from your comment that is not the case. That’s a shame and a pretty sad commentary on where we are as a nation on this issue.



Not to worry, no one should be insulted (or insulting) just because they disagree and I don’t think either of us have/are.

Also I didn’t mean to hijack your thread, I’ll just respond to your last paragraph, apologize for the hijack and back out.

You wrote: “The fact that someone can make a video and put it on the internet does not, by itself, mean that AR-15?s are sold “stock” as automatic weapons.”

They might not be sold “stock” as automatic weapons but with the belt loop on your pants or installing a legal aftermarket add-on it IS an automatic weapon.


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Emphasis mine.

Shannon Lee

The problem with this good idea is….

When I go shooting in the country, everyone likes to try everyone’s guns. It is a major part of the culture that would be hard to change.

I’ll admit two things :)
I enjoy shooting at cans and telephone books.
I almost had my foot shot off by some moron at one of these events.


Thanks for the great videos SteveK, but it sounds like Elijah Sweete, is ready to go the distance on quarrelling over what the complete definition of Automatic and semi-automatic weapons is. As far as I’m concerned, your videos and the sales listings of guns that can easily be adapted to bump-fire, are primarily, simple and honest examples of very lethal weapons, which are, therefore, dangerous when made easily available to the public. I think we should either find a way to completely administer effective background checks on ANYONE who intends to buy such a weapon, or PROHIBIT THE SALE of the weapon itself. After all, the government prohibits the sale of many products based on the fact that they expose the public to danger. This AR-15 seems to fit that bill, and obviously, high capacity clips including weapons and types of ammunition that can increase the ability to kill, are what attracts mass-shooters. Outside of military and law keeping forces such as the police, I can’t see how anyone requires such a weapon for any good enough reason, otherwise. It seems that sometimes drowning ourselves in facts, is only a ploy to deny the obvious—and, obviously those who are mentally ill or have criminal records should not possess, or have access to such weapons. And the fact that just about no one in civilian life really NEEDS such firepower, in my judgement, indicates that we have an open and shut case for restricting and/or OUTRIGHT DENYING these weapons to almost everyone.

Thanks again for the great and undismissable videos!


Fast forward to 00:01:45…

tidbits, look at what happens to the water in the pond in less than three seconds due to what you call “NOT full automatic firing.”

Now imagine that the water as your child… Your grandchild… Or just anybody, somebody you don’t even know.

The prosecution rests with a reminder that these weapons have the potential of evil and we can allow this to continue because “the boys want their toys” or we can stop it. This is the choice our society now faces… Let the defense (persecution) begin continue.


Oh My! Tidbits i am listening like a jury member…. that last video is damaging visual evidence….

And i truly appreciate the information and education that is being offered. It is important for us to be able to see beyond all the smoke and mirrors..


So – saving 52 lives and stopping 7 to 10% of all cop killings wouldn’t be worth the effort? Sorry for being so snarky, but you kind of left yourself open on that one.

Where did I say that? I addressed a stat that you used and gave a comparable nation wide stat that could be easily checked. Personally I’ll let the cops decide how to handle police shootings rather than a bunch of people talking on the internet. I know when the tech was new it was widely disused and examined by departments but in the end wasn’t used because the rate of FTF’s (fail to Fire) was to great. Now lets imagine the possible casualties when the cops can’t get their guns to fire when they need them to. I have no issues with using this tech if it works as desired I just don’t want it to be used as gun control rather than a safety device.

Shannon Lee

wow…didnt know that SteveK, thanks for the enlightenment.

Looks like you could kill a lot of people in a crowded area with that method…lots.


Without the semis, bumpted, pumpted or whatever, killers would be LESS lethal. I am sticking to that point so let the rationalizing and obfuscation begin (again).
People without easy access to firearms do less damage. None of the people in the following article were KILLED.
Chinese Driver Runs Down Students Dec. 25th, 2012:
I would rather see a U.S. without the semis, especially if they can be modified or miss-used to kill even more people. And, the idea that some law enforcement people may not be able to fire another cop’s firearm does not out weigh the extra benefit of weapons taken from the officer and used on him or the myriad of weapons stolen and used criminally in the person’s own home or outside in the community.


The smart gun is a great idea except that it won’t go anywhere here in the US. The NRA will see to it. In fact, they have already been successful in diverting the real issue and of course will continue to do so til you “pry the guns from their cold, dead hands”. Ohio and Arizona are already preparing to train and arm teachers. Perhaps they will eventually offer it to every vulnerable institution so we can have heat packing priests and nuns in private schools as well.
Has EVERYONE in this society gone crazy? We are being bullied into this kind of insane thinking by the NRA, who is nothing more than by definition, a terrorist organization. When do we get some kahunas in this country?


And, the idea that some law enforcement people may not be able to fire another cop’s firearm does not out weigh the extra benefit of weapons taken from the officer and used on him or the myriad of weapons stolen and used criminally in the person’s own home or outside in the community.

The problem is that in testing the guns did not always fire. They were not worried about other cops using someones gun, but that the cop who the gun belonged to would be left without a working firearm. Look maybe the tech will get there but it’s not. Since the NRA is run by the gun companies it’s hard to see why they are against smart guns because every major gun company has had some “smart” gun tech that they have been pushing. The one that solves it first will make huge money and would want people to use the tech. There are also issues like being able to jam smartgums if they use any type of radio as in rfid. Electromagnetic pulses may destroy a firearms ability to work. The list goes on. The tech just doesn’t appear because someones agenda says t should.


So, meantime in NJ today three cops were shot at a station house by a suspect. Yes, it was one of the officer’s gun.
I wouldn’t worry that the technology is not perfect yet and worry about the N.R.A. blocking the effort.
Some say that the station’s procedure’s were lax, but meantime the shooting took place, where with a smart gun it would not have.


As to the NRA they couldn’t care less if this tech works. Actually it could be a good thing. They are against requiring mandating the use for all guns for a number of reasons.


Yeh, who gives a flying __________ about three cops, TODAY, when we had 20 kids and seven adults killed a week ago.
And as usual, the non-deaths from a deranged person in China that didn’t have an efficient killing device, is glossed over, AGAIN.


ES, they were shot, but fortunately NOT killed. There are more than a few of these incidents, and perhaps cops and their loved ones should be more concerned about it. I would opt for a smart gun if I had a choice, for sure.
I wish there were some statistics on gun burglaries where these weapons wind up in violent injury and death incidents. This is probably a big number and smart guns might reduce that number.
Here’s one:


“New York City Police Detectives Robert Parker and Patrick Rafferty were shot and killed in East Flatbush on September 10th, allegedly after a suspect, Marlon Legere, 28, grabbed Parker’s gun and used it to shoot both detectives several times at close range. “


“Smart guns have been critisized”

Well you could say I criticised them too because I don’t think they work well enough and obviously police depts agree but that doesn’t mean I have any problem the theory as a safety device. As gun control I would have many issues with it and if there was a push to make it mandatory I would object. That is not the same as objecting to police using the tech if it improves to the point where they trust it.