Smart Guns–An Engineers Perspective

So yesterday the “smart gun” meme was fluttering everywhere.  A long debate ensued on twitter.



So I made a couple of comments and it seems that people have no clue how innovation works or how engineering works.  This isn’t surprising because these are the same people who think Steve Jobs just magically gave birth to the iPad and iPhone.  Remember these are the same people who came up with ideas like this.

Laugh if you want, but someone needs to figure out how to harness the energy in earthquakes

Seriously. I’m no engineer so I can’t even begin to think about this in real terms, but just imagine if that energy were somehow able to be captured and stored for use.

Go read the post it’s worth it.  So now on to our current problem, “smart guns”.

There is one serious problem with the concept and idea of smart guns, they are doomed to fail from the start.  Period, end of discussion and I will explain.  The whole premise of a firearm is rooted in one simple undeniable fact:

When you pull the trigger it must go bang.  No exceptions.

Now we all realize that no system is 100% reliable though most guns are exceptional in their reliability and quality.  Here is the Glock 17 Gen4 stress test by Pistol

We will use the round count of 53,526 rounds and 9 stoppages for our calculations.  That gives the Glock 17 Gen 4 a reliability of 99.9831857%

That is a failure rate of 0.0168%.  That’s right folks a MTBF (Mean Time Between Failure) of approximately 5947 rounds.  Of note this is a sigma of 1 since we only have the numbers for a single unit of test.  Also of note though is for the most part regarding firearms, this is a must have level of reliability.  For many it is considered a “standard” to meet or exceed.

So now we have a starting point for reliability.  Here’s where we run into a problem.  No matter what you do you cannot improve the reliability, you can only degrade it.

Lets say we could make a device that operated with the same reliability as the firearm but attached to the weapon, what would happen?

We’ve cut our reliability almost exactly in half!  Let me explain.

Rgun = (1-0.016…%)  Rsafety=(1-0.016….%)  Rtotal=Rgun * Rsafety  Rtotal = 99.9663743%

Or a failure rate of 0.03362568%

So how many failures is that in the same 53,526 rounds?   17.9984

But again, we are talking about a device who’s sole purpose is to go bang when you pull the trigger.  A device that must be reliable because the failure of the weapon can result in the loss of life for the operator.

While none of these numbers seem terribly large, this is why you have not seen any company pursue this path.  In order to maintain existing reliability you would have to double the reliability of the weapons well as have an additional safety with equivalent reliability.  This however is impossible because there are many other factors that come into play regarding an additional safety and reliability.

The biggest is ease of use.  You know why police and the general public like Glocks?   Because they are unbelievably simple to operate and maintain.  Any additional safety will increase the complexity of operation, period.  There will be required to be some sort of user interaction with the device.  Say it’s a palm print scanner?  What happens if during a hasty draw you don’t get a solid grip on your weapon?  Normally this wouldn’t matter, it would just be more uncomfortable during recoil.  This safety will fail, it cannot properly identify the user and as it’s design is to prevent the weapon from going bang, it will do it’s job.  Biometrics are unreliable as it is and have been extensively in the realm of high end research for a while.  How does this magically change overnight?

Next up, battery life.  The system will have to be running 24/7 365, actively scanning and giving a pass/fail return to the firing mechanism.  Some could say, “well just use a pressure switch.” Except the level of processing required and initialization lets say you get that down to a half second.  That’s an extra half second before your first shot, it didn’t go bang when you wanted it to.

Don’t forget tin whiskers, humidity, temperature, SEU, electromechanical components failing due to the shock, and I could continue down the list.  The idea you could match the same reliability as a mechanical device is laughable but I used it here because it’s the best possible outcome.

This is why we don’t see the military or law enforcement pursing these types of technologies.  Think about it, Law Enforcement should be all over funding and pushing manufacturers to develop this as a reliable technology.  It is the perfect solution to weapons retention and preventing a criminal from taking an officers duty weapon during a scuffle.

Yet no one does it?  The answer is said plainly above, reliability.  The firearm has one critical function, that is to go bang when told to by the operator.  Anything that is designed to interfere with that function is a massive risk and will increase the probability of failure.  In the event of failure the death of the operator is quite possibly going to occur.  Especially since you pointed a firearm at someone, you have indicated willingness to use lethal force.

So tell me again how science fiction will solve the issues of the real world?  Further comparing safety features on cars to guns is a non-starter.  The reason is simple, no safety features are allowed to conflict with the primary inputs from the driver.  Any feature that might possibly interfere is placed in parallel and designed to fail open.  For example, ABS cannot operate on it’s own, it must occur with a brake signal.  In the event of an ABS system failure, the brakes will still work, but can lock up.

Now it is true that there are features now such as emergency brakes that will improve reaction time.  It is also of note in those vehicles you can override the system again cutting it from the loop.  There are extensive diagnostics testing that system specifically to remove it from the loop in the event of failure.  Why? Because slamming your brakes on the freeway at 60 MPH in the middle of traffic is bad and a liability for the manufacturer and engineer.

Tell me, given the above information, how can you create a gun that will still fire when the safety fails if the safety’s sole job is to keep the gun from firing.  If that’s the case, anyone could just disable the safety so what’s the point?

As an engineer my job is to make things, safer and reliable.  I would refuse to work on a project relating to a “smart gun” because honestly it can not accomplish either of those two things.  Safer in this case applies to the operator, not the target.  When the operator pulls the trigger it must go bang it’s what’s safest for the operator.

In closing if this is such a reliable and fantastic idea, why has it never been implemented anywhere else with extensive reliability?  We do not even see biometric identification in cars?  It would be of no where the inconvenience to have to swipe your thumb again to get your car to start as your firearm not going bang when you need it to.  You would have much more space for the processing equipment, less requirements for shock, overall it’s a better more likely environment, yet we don’t see it implemented.

Again it comes down to reliability, when I turn the key on my truck, I expect my ignition to turn over.  I do not expect it to fail because my truck doesn’t realize I grew a beard and look different.  I do not expect it to fail because I sliced my finger and have to wear a band-aid.  Just the same, I want my gun to go bang even if I’m wearing gloves.

The idea of smart guns is purely science fiction and that is not going to change any time soon.

Quote of the Day–Tam (1/13/2013)

Here’s my question: In his entire entourage of uncritical nuthuggers, was there not one single person willing to play Smithers to Yeager’s Mr. Burns? Nobody to say "Uh, sir, maybe going on camera all bug-eyed and threatening to kill people isn’t such a good idea when bug-eyed people have been running around killing people."

And no matter how much you don’t want him on your team, he is on your team anyway. He is getting so much attention at HuffPo and DailyKos because to them, he confirms every stereotype they have of gun owners the way Limbaugh listeners think that all Democrat voters are dreadlocked hippies in #OCCUPY_DRUM_CIRCLE. James Yeager has sent the entire gun rights movement downrange with a camera.

TamThe Honey boo boo of the firearms industry.

January 13th, 2013

[Honestly right now we are our own worst enemies.  As Tam rightfully points out the media is hunting for the craziest of the bunch to bring forward and put front and center as being representative of all of us.  The way they need to run this fight is to make us look inhuman and they’ve been working at it for years.

Please, for the love of god, think before you speak and if you see that you need to play Smithers to a Mr. Burns, freaking do so! –B]

One of those nights…

So yesterday Linoge responded to a tweet and I made a comment.  Well for some reason it got me involved in a Twitter battle along these lines.

We went around and around, literally.  He actually started re-tweeting his own comments he had previously made as if they were some how magically relevant.  What was most interesting though is he was your typical liberal.  By typical, I mean he fit with Joe’s analysis of the communist manifesto quite well.  What I did find quite interesting though was this tweet.


That’s right folks.  This guy actually believes that if you get rid of capitalism you will get rid of all crime.  Delusional doesn’t even begin to describe this particular individual.  His response regarding women and rape later on was just as epic.


That’s right folks, rape needs to be stopped by the honor system.  While I agree men shouldn’t rape women, I violently disagree that gun’s don’t equalize.  I did reply that he needs to explain how all these incidents weren’t an “equalization.”  He never did actually respond.  Overall he I don’t think he looked at a single link I posted.  He even disregarded the FBI UCR and called it NRA propaganda.  He argued that the tool did matter and that all these things were not related.  You see disarming victims would also disarm criminals and thus everyone would be on the same playing field.  He however did not accept my argument that it would reduce crime to a “Might makes right” scenario.

Overall it was a total waste of time.  Seriously I should have blocked him long before I finally did.  And last I checked he was still spamming me with replies.  What I will say though was I was humbled by this comment from Linoge:



Growing up I never did have a lot of patience.  Even know there are times where my patience wears thin.  I will note interestingly enough there appears to be a gradient to how much patience I am willing to exert with a person.  I make that comment because it appears that my level of patience with a person seems to be directly correlated to the level of intellect I perceive them capable of.

For example I’m much more willing to deal with the endless why’s of a small child than trying to explain something fundamental to some who should understand it or has the capability of figuring it out for himself.

Well obviously I felt he was pretty low on the ladder at the beginning but eventually it was obvious that he was suffering from Peterson Syndrome.  Eventually I just couldn’t take it and blocked him.  I will applaud the other individuals who then picked up and continued to try and get him to think rationally.  I personally think it’s a lost cause, he does not have the ability for rational thought.

I think I’m going to go spend time with the wife.  The wife that woman hating bastard would rather disarm to force her to live in fear than carry a weapon to conquer evil.  As A Girl said:


He seemed to think that anyone who carried a gun was living in fear.  He could not comprehend that fear for many of us comes from being forcibly disarmed and at the mercy of those strong than us.  For that he is evil incarnate.   The following concept from A Girl he most definitely couldn’t comprehend.

You, you who hate guns, you gave me nothing.

No hope.

No tools.

All that was offered me was a life of fear, of resentment, of bitterness, of dependence…

The gun community has offered me hope and strength, and courage.

They have taught me to have belief in myself.

That, that is why I am so willing to go to the mattresses.  It is that reason I am willing to exert time and patience in trying to force people to admit what they are and what they are attempting to do.  I love my friends and family and I will fight for them, even die for them if necessary.  I think I can spend 30 minutes on twitter expressing to the scum sucking coward how he actually hates women is time well spent.  Especially when I think about what it would mean for some of my friends.  Even more than that, those  who sadly end up walking that same path in the future.  By god I want this path available for others to help them move on.

I don’t want anyone to have to depend on the kindness of a criminal to survive, I just want them to be able to depend on themselves.

How to destroy your Op-Sec…

It appears a member of the Taliban has provided a perfect illustration on how to destroy your operational security.

In a Dilbert-esque faux pax, a Taliban spokesperson sent out a routine email last week with one notable difference. He publicly CC’d the names of everyone on his mailing list.

Oops, there’s no way to unsend it either.  Might I suggest a listserv to save you from future embarrassment.  Then again, it’s not that I mind you just unzipped your fly to the whole world.

Technology can be a wonderful and dangerous thing depending which side of the line you’re on.

Wounded Warrior Foundation Puts Foot In Mouth…

So it appears the Wounded Warrior Project went and shoved their foot in their mouth with regards to a large segment of the population which graciously throws money at them.

WWP does not co-brand, create cause marketing campaigns or receive a percentage or a portion of proceeds from companies in which the product or message is sexual, political or religious in nature, or from alcohol or firearms companies.

Screenshot in case they memory hole the end statement.

In case you didn’t read the first link, this includes doing interviews with firearm related talk  radio.  Given that it would also prevent firearm events raising funds for their cause,  including donations of firearms to be raffled to raise funds.

Now they are free to do whatever they would like, just the same I am free to send my funds to groups as I would like.  I will say that refusing to talk on a radio show because they are gun related show isn’t probably the brightest thing to do.  In the grand scheme it certainly feels like a snub, especially when someone is going out of their way to give them free publicity.

So instead from now on when I would normally give to WWP I will instead send it to Soldiers’ Angels.  Honestly this is where I send most of my support anyway.  If you would like to continue donating to the WWP, that is your call and I am not knocking their cause or mission.  I will say I am offended that they would politicize a stance over a fundamental right and use their mission and purpose as a screen.  It appears that I’m not the only one thinking about cutting WWP off from their wallet either.

If the WWP wants to discriminate against gun owners or otherwise snub our overwhelming generosity to those who need it, especially those in uniform, we will find someone else who does want it.  It’s what we do.

I will say that Soldiers’ Angels was at the Gun Blogger Rendezvous this year and the fundraising was directed at them.  Patti Patton-Bader’s youngest son was there as a representative of the group and had a blast shooting steel and even got him interested in USPSA.  We even got him hitting the steel out at 950.

So at least it appears that Soldiers’ Angels has their head on straight and realizes that it doesn’t matter where it comes from, what matters is the mission and the cause.  It pains me that I even have to think about it, but they made the choice not me.  So, if you’d rather not donate to WWP but still want to support wounded troops, Soldiers’ Angels works, quite well I might add.

You don’t just have to donate money, there are many options from sewing to writing letters to support the troops.  Honestly, when you consider it, Soldier’s Angels has the benefit of being much more personal in their approach, especially for the wounded.

I’ve spoken my piece. Wounded Warrior Project will no longer get a cent out of my wallet.  Instead I will send that and more to a project fully focused on the mission of providing support to wounded warriors as well as their brother’s in arms.

You want to see why the power is still out in parts of NY?

Just look at this picture.

Image via WFTV

What did that man do to get assaulted?

Applewhite said he had just finished working a 13-hour day and was going to get dinner with the rest of his crew when he stepped out of his utility truck and was attacked by a resident.

Honestly if I was with any utility crew that was in the area to help restore power I’d pack up and leave.  They were up all the way from Florida to help.  Even if I lived in the area and worked locally, I’d pack up and move.  When you attack the people trying to help you, you don’t deserve help.  You deserve to suffer and be stuck solving the problem on your own.

He left his family to go help and work long hours in the process.  His reward for that was a broken jaw and multiple fractures.

Can someone please explain to me how this was some how supposed to aid in the restoration of power?  Does a black eye and broken jaw help a lineman do his job safely?  Does it some how give him magical powers to see what needs to be done to the line to bring it back into service?

What I do absolutely love though is that idiot Mayor absolutely doesn’t care because it didn’t involve the use of a firearm.  Heaven forbid he actually bring in the National Guard to help maintain order and provide a safe working environment for utility crews.  Nope, only his anointed class can carry firearms in the city.  In the mean time utility workers are being assaulted for trying to get the lights back on.

Personally, I say leave them in the dark and let them rot if that’s how they’re going to behave.  Things aren’t magically fixed overnight no matter how bad you want them to be.  Evidently massive damage can be magically undone with a snap of the fingers.  Up to and including transformer replacement, line replacement, pole replacement, substation replacement, protective relay replacement, and line communication replacement.  Will the individual who discovered this ability to fix things at the snap of their fingers please start a company to provide services, they could certainly be used in a time like this.

As for dealing with this problem, at minimum leave the lights off till that man’s buddies turn him in.  You know he went and bragged to someone about beating up a utility crew to “show them they mean business.”  Well just leave the lights off until the car and owner is found.

Seriously, incidents like this piss me right the hell off and I am being quite honest about letting them fix this crap themselves if that’s how they’re going to behave.  You think a couple of weeks are bad, try a couple of years when no one helps next time.

See, this is what government does…

Outlawed are food donations to homeless shelters because the city can’t assess their salt, fat and fiber content, reports CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.

That’s right folks, it’s better to let people starve, especially after a natural disaster.  Honestly if anything I would be surprised if the reason it took 2 weeks to get the lights back on was the fault of the Mayors office.

Personally you folks in New York City elected the douche bag and have done nothing to reign in his tyranny.  On that front you deserve to starve.  I just wish that we could the nanny stateism he’s creating would stay well within your borders. 

Seriously, this is why natural disasters are getting bad on the recovery front.  Instead of doing the job that needs to get done, you have bureaucrats getting in the way claiming to be helping, when in reality people are starving to death.

h/t Uncle.

Never a Good Idea…

It is one never a good idea to threaten anyone, most especially someone like Joe.

I did start chuckling at the thought he just threatened the canary in the coal mine.  Talk about a great way to call down the thunder.  I wonder if he realizes that the disappearance of someone like Joe would provoke the immediate revocation of birth certificates for numerous politicians and violent liberals, including himself now that he has put himself on the radar.

Yes, as Joe says, “We are better than this.”  Some however forget that the majority of us haven’t struck merely because we won’t hit first.  That said, Mr. Comardo’s comments I take as a direct threat.  Doubly so since I spend enough time with the canary that I quite likely would be collateral damage in his disappearance.

Mr. Comardo, if your opinion differs from our own, so be it.  But if you think it necessary to threaten and intimidate others over the fragile nature of your opinion, it might be high time to re-evaluate your opinion.

Since Joe didn’t post it, here is his probable MyLife Profile.  Unsurprisingly he doesn’t have a LinkedIn profile which I should have figured from his support of Obama.  He wouldn’t know how to find a job if it was handed to him.  If anyone wants to continue digging up information feel free to post it here.  A nice profile should it ever be necessary could be quite handy if it’s ready made.