Twopid Number 1: Smart Guns
It’s hard to decide what’s a bigger blight, the politicians and pundits who take glee in a murder because they can use it to pus their pre-loaded policy preferences, or the marketeers who delight in the carnage because they can use it to underline a sales pitch. Maybe that’s because the one’s lust for power and influence, and the other’s lust for money are, at the core, the same thing. In a long opinion piece masked as a report, Reuters’ Jonathan Kaminski begins:
When Irish gun entrepreneur Robert McNamara learned of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting, his immediate reaction, like that of most people, was one of horror, shock and sadness….
…but that quickly turned to delight and greed, when he realized how well-placed he was to profit from the massacre. There are problems with his technology, which Kamimski tries to gloss over: for one thing, he quotes a New Jersey Institute of Technology (what’s that? MIT for the Jersey Shore set? Carnegie-Mellon with short school buses?) project that is hoping to achieve… 99% reliability. That sounds good when you realize it means an FTF once every seven normal pistol magazines, or so.
Sure it works. Anybody else own a late-eighties or early-nineties GM car with the smart chip in the key? They worked about 99%, too. Anybody get stuck with a BMW with iDrive? (Fortunately, Chris Bangle’s styling reduced the impact of that botch, by turning people off before they learned how bad the car’s technology was).
What may be most amusing about the piece is the way that Kaminski gives the briefest of quotes to opponents of this idjit, unreliable crap, and then relies on anti-gun lefties from banster organisations to tell his readers what gun owners and manufacturers want:
“Law-abiding, responsible gun owners who choose to have a gun to protect their families would rather have a gun that was safer,” [Brady center lawyer Jonathan] Lowy said. (By “safer” he means, “that won’t shoot.”)
If smart guns were viable, [Josh Sugarmann of the VPS] says, gun makers would welcome the opportunity to expand their shrinking customer base.
Hey, Kaminski, call us, and we’ll tell you what liberals want. A good beginning is “a national socialist security state.”
There are a number of problems with MacNamara’s immature, untested technology, problems that Kaminski must have been unable to see, willing to ignore, or eager to conceal.
- Overall reliability. If he had a system that was, perhaps, reliable to nine sigma he might have something. It would still detract from the reliability of a defensive weapon, but he’d be able to argue that it detracted a negligible amount because, for example, failure of quality commercial ammunition is also about a nine sigma incidence. But in fact he doesn’t say that, or anything like it. It may be that he has done reliability testing and dare not report what his results were — such testing would only be worthwhile if it were independent and double-blind — but it’s a lot more likely that he hasn’t done any formal reliability testing. Want to sell this thing to anybody, even the most anti-gun managers of large urban police forces? Show them an independent test with 10,000 rounds fired from each of 100 individual serial numbers by at least 300 shooters of a normal distribution in size, shape, and handedness, and zero type 1 or type 2 errors (failure of personalized weapon to fire, failure of non-personalized to not fire) in those million rounds, and then you can begin arguing your technology works. That should not just be the standard for initial adoption — it should be the standard for its rollout on any weapon.
- Disables gun in weak hand. The technology relies on a mated pair of chips, one in the gun and one in or on the hand, and they need to be within 2.5 cm of one another to work. Exercise for the reader: you are wounded in your strong hand and arm and the arm is hanging limp. Three pounds of steel, polymer and ammo are hanging inertly in the dead hand.
- Requires a ring or an implant. Both are bad ideas — a ring is something you should not be wearing if you’re in a job that requires some athleticism. Don’t take our word for it, go here for four case studies (and note that’s a peer-reviewed publication, something MacNamara’s technology is not now, and probably never will be, ready for). Army aviators have seen plenty of safety posters with finger avulsions; it’s a staple of the Safety Center’s hectoring. And an implant? Really. What happens when the cop union or an individual cop sues? What happens when someone has a reaction? Or, much more likely, gets infected?
- Makes it impossible to lend gun, instruct with gun, etc. How do you introduce a new shooter to the sport if the gun has to be in your hand? You don’t. Of course, the Kaminskys, Sugarmanns and so forth may think this a feature rather than a bug.
- Makes it impossible for a wounded or slain user or officer’s gun to be picked up and used by another, in an emergency. This alone kills this as a military technology. Kills it deader’n disco.
- Has no means of self-test — the only time you’ll learn whether it’s working is when you need it to save your life. Given the care many cops, for example, give their guns, cleaning them once a year whether they need it or not, how many cops will be carrying dead iron around for months or years, completely unaware of it? This isn’t, like the others, a conceptual problem, but a failure of MacNamara’s specific implementation.
So perhaps it was a noble attempt at doing something with RFID and similar technologies that wasn’t overtly Orwellian. But it foundered on the originators’ lack of knowledge of guns — not surprising, in Ireland where guns are regulated to the nth degree, but terrorism and murder has been rampant regardless.
Twopid Number 2: Knife Control
Generally, the octogenarian or so Senator from Iowa, Charles Grassley, is good on gun policy. He’s been one of the few in Congress interested in the DOJ’s ATF’s curious policy of clearing weapons buys for Sinaloa Cartel support cells, and even, it turns out, ATF officials buying guns directly for the criminals. He’s even investigated, to the limits he can, the Gunwalker programs, and reported on them, to the extent the press will write something critical of a policy they approve. Some people are angry because Grassley does not go beyond what is practically and politically possible, but that’s not reasonable. He’s a dependable vote for the gun culture.
Which is why his latest pronouncements are, well, twopid. Sample:
But, the discussion should go beyond just guns to include other weapons like knives, Grassley said.
Twopid? Yeah. They’re stupid on their face — for all the reasons gun control is ineffective in fighting crime, knife control is even more so. (Like guns, knives have beneficial uses that far outweigh any criminal abuse of them. Like guns, there is no material difference between knives that can be abused criminally and knives that are useful tools). And they’re stupid politically, opening more doors for the power-drunk liberal fascists like Feinstein. (Liberals have suggested a ban on knives with 3″ or larger blades before, as a crime-fighting strategy they prefer to incarcerating or executing people who commit mayhem with knives).
In addition, Grassley seems to be generally willing to support a Feinstein-drafted assault weapons bill in this interview. (It’s hard to know what he actually said, because the reporter, Tim Rohwer, seems to much prefer his own voice to his interview subjects, and shies away from direct quotes. He’s a newspaper reporter, and that alone is enough to call his integrity into question). So how stupid is Grassley? Not quite as industrially stupid as MacNamara with his blinkered, grasping greed; instead it’s the routine, banal stupidity of the nonentities we send to Congress.
But hey, maybe MacNamara’s voodoo technology can be adapted to knives. Perhaps we should just trust Robert MacNamara. Now, it’s true it was a different individual, but last time we trusted Robert MacNamara and his press waterbearers, we got Vietnam with ROE that guaranteed an expensive loss.
UPDATE: Here’s another smart gun article, by rumored Journolist member Farhad Manjoo (Manjoo denies having been a member, but did seem to coordinate his stories with Ezra Klein, Dave Wiegel and the rest of the “Juicebox Mafia”). This new rash of articles seems to be coordinated among the left-wing press — expect more of them. All the same deficiencies in the technology overlooked by Kaminsky were overlooked by Manjoo, suggesting the same sources are feeding him. The writing’s on the wall, though, for many media publications. This is the reason and this is one of the results. Here’s another: 1,850 layoffs in the newspaper industry in 2012. So far.