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Why We Need To Be Smart About Smart Guns

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Article first appeared at Americas 1st Freedom.

Cool Tech does not make a gun more reliable.

This feature appears in the January ‘17 issue of 
NRA America’s 1st Freedom, one of the official journals of the National Rifle Association.  

I’m not in the habit of making bold predictions, but this one seems pretty safe: In 2017, we’re going to hear a lot more about the need for so-called “smart” guns. The push has already begun, of course, but this could be the year when at least one of these firearms comes to market in an actual self-defense caliber (the price tag is likely to still be quite a bit more than your standard firearm). When that happens, you can expect a deluge of columns by folks who don’t actually own any guns demanding that you and I replace all of our pistols with the new, tech-heavy models.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not opposed to the idea of smart guns in theory. It’s just that when I hear the claims that if I can have a fingerprint ID on my phone, it shouldn’t be a big deal to have the same thing on my self-defense weapon, I can’t help but laugh. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to open my phone on a rainy night in order to use the flashlight function, only to have the fingerprint reader fail because the phone was wet. I’ve missed calls while mowing the lawn because my hands were too sweaty for the fingerprint reader to work. And fingerprint readers don’t work at all when I’m wearing gloves.

No, if the anti-gun advocates want to persuade me that this technology is ready for me to depend on it when my life is at stake, they’re going to have to do better than, “It works just like your phone.” Missing a call is one thing. Missing the ability to protect myself or my loved ones is something else entirely.

Gadgetry is cool, but it’s no substitute for old-fashioned reliability.

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