Gun locks and “smart” guns

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Gun locks and “smart” guns.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, roughly 13,000 American children die each year. Of these, 110 die from gun accidents. This is not good – the death of any child is a tragedy – and a lot of effort has been put into reducing this figure from 110 to something less.

Two approaches that have made it into law have been the mandating of gun locks and, when they are eventually available, smart guns. Because of the potential impact of these laws on you, the reader, they need to be discussed. This article is aimed at those who employ protective specialists. We are not discussing here the benefits or dangers of guns, nor of issues involving the general gun-owning public nor of that portion of the general gun-owning public that has children in the house, nor of the value or lack thereof of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. We are solely discussing the issue of gun locks and smart guns as they relate to protective service agents.

Gun Locks

In general, it is quite likely that if your protectors need a gun, they need it NOW! Does a gun lock really cause a problem here? Well, let’s look at how they work. If it is a trigger lock, you take a key, put it in the lock, turn the key, and the lock comes off. We have seen other locks that mount on the wall and allow you to use either a combination or keyed padlock to safely attach the loaded gun to the wall. Others are lock boxes that can be opened using a key, or a dialed combination, or a set of buttons that can be pushed in some order.

This doesn’t sound as if it would be a problem: You put in the key and take out the gun.

But think back to some time when you came home, desperately needing to pee. Remember how difficult it was to get the key in the lock, with the difficulty of using the key being directly related to how desperate you were to get to the bathroom? Now if your fine motor skills diminish this much under the stress of needing to use the bathroom, imagine that it is three in the morning and your protective agent has been awakened from a sound sleep to the possibility of an attack being launched against you and your family.

How well are they likely to do at trying to turn three little dials, possibly in the dark? Or trying to find a key, then finding the locked gun, then trying to insert the key – possibly in the dark – into the lock?

Smart Guns

Smart guns are guns that recognize whether or not the person holding the gun is its owner. If it is not the owner – for example if it is your twelve-year- old – then the gun won’t fire, which is, in terms of keeping twelve-year-olds from discharging this particular gun, in theory good.

With smart guns there are two classes of problems that must be faced.


The first is the possibility that at some point the gun won’t function, for any of a number of reasons. When your protector pulls the trigger, do you want the gun to go “BANG,” or do you want the gun to say “Please replace the battery?” If the protective agent is your driver, and is wearing driving gloves, do you want the gun to go “BANG” or do you want it to say, “You appear to be wearing gloves. Please remove them so I can identify you as an authorized user?”

Use by others

The other problem faced with smart guns is that sometimes you want the gun to be usable by others. As an example, suppose you have a team of two agents, and one is shot, hurt in a car crash, or otherwise out of service. The second agent runs out of ammunition and grabs his partner’s gun. When he tries to shoot your attacker he is told by the gun, “I’m sorry, you are not an authorized user.”

Or, think back to the case that occurred some years ago when a twelve-year- old child was awakened by the screams of his father, who was being murdered. The child sneaked into his father’s bedroom, got his father’s gun, and shot the attacker, thus saving his father’s life, and, probably, his own. Now imagine that your family is under attack and that your protective agent has been killed, but that your twelve year old is able to grab the fallen agent’s gun. Or that you can grab the fallen agent’s gun. Do you want the gun to go bang or to prevent you unauthorized users from firing a shot?

Do these kinds of things happen often? Obviously not. Will they happen from time to time? They obviously might. Could it happen to you? Well that’s why people play the lottery, independent of the odds.

The bottom line here is that the function of a gun is to go bang when the trigger is pulled. Smart guns create a class of deliberately-defective devices. In recognition of this, police are ALWAYS exempt by law from the requirement to use them: They are simply too dangerous, and the likelihood of something bad happening to an officer is too high.

We suggest that they are equally dangerous to your protectors, and, by extension, dangerous to you, your family, and your staff. You should therefore use your power to ensure that your protective staff, like the police, are exempt from the requirement to use smart guns.

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