Consumers have close to zero interest in “smart guns,” a simple fact that gun control advocates–the only supporters of “Smart guns”–continue to ignore.
The nation’s 100-140 million gun owners want firearms that are economical, easy to maintain, and above all, unfailingly reliable.
60 Minutes heard claims from the nation’s gun makers that it’s the proponents of gun control who are advocates of smart guns. It also reported that the NRA sees smart guns as the kind of thing that could lead to bans on other kinds of guns, citing a law in New Jersey.
Smart guns” that only their owners can fire are not new. And yet, these guns are not mass-produced or sold in the United States, in part because of fears they are a backdoor to greater gun control. But that’s going to change says one of Silicon Valley’s most prominent entrepreneurs who champions the hi-tech firearms. Lesley Stahl reports on smart guns, firearms advocates believe can lower the number of accidental shootings and suicides in the U.S.”“Smart weapons recognize their owners’ fingerprints or hand grip, or unlock when they wirelessly interact with a special watch or ring worn by the shooter. Ron Conway, an early investor in Google and Facebook who has funded 15 smart-gun projects, says he’s looking for the Mark Zuckerberg of guns. He thinks the market is ripe for disruption. “This is going to happen outside the gun industry. Why they aren’t doing research and investing in this baffles me,” says Conway.
So why can’t you buy a smart gun in the United States today? One reason is gun-shop owners won’t sell them. When one Maryland dealer announced he would try to sell one smart gun he was immediately attacked with email and phone call threats by people who believed that he could have triggered a New Jersey ban on regular handguns that don’t possess ‘Smart Guns’ technology.
What neither Conway nor 60 Minutes nor any other “smart gun” proponent will admit is that the reason gun companies aren’t working on smart gun technology is because there simply is no viable commercial market for these firearms, and there may never be.
They are not wanted by consumers.
Gun owners love their gadgets—laser range finders, laser sights, red-dots, scopes, etc—but demand that the core firearm itself be simple, robust, and as close to fail-proof as possible. There hasn’t been a single consistently reliable “smart gun” made that is simple, or robust, or reliable.
They have all been fragile, temperamental, needlessly complex, and slow to bring into operation.
– Sentinl manufactures a small gun lock that requires a fingerprint to access the trigger.
‘Relying on “smart guns” will get you killed, and every gun owner knows it.’
Mr. Conway has funded 15 smart gun projects and can fund 15 or 150 more, but the simple fact of the matter is that end users do not want the technology he is pushing.
Another important point 60 Minutes didn’t say was that Conway’s investment ideas usually don’t work. Conway has in the past said that generally one third of his investments fail. He has said that another third of his investments simply return the money he has invested, which doesn’t mean much given the relatively small amount of money he typically invests.
In other words, two thirds of Conway’s investments really don’t have much of an impact on businesses and consumers. Conway considers the one-third of companies that only return the money he has invested in them as a success. In an interview a few years ago, Conway said that between 2002 and 2010, 40% of his firm’s investments had failed.
Gun companies are in the business of making products that users will buy.
Gun purchasers do not want “smart guns.” They never have. The only people who want “smart guns” are those who would never purchase a gun in the first place.