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February 26, 2008

More on smart guns, dumb technologies and market realities

Following up my earlier post on smart guns, Eugene Volokh asks his readers why they think there has not been any progress on smart gun technology in recent years.  The comments make for very interesting reading, though there seems to be a collective view that an effective smart gun presents almost insurmountable technological challenges.

Though I accept the basic premise that an effective smart gun would present technological challenges, I have a hard time believing that gun technology could not improve.  In a modern world in which phones, cameras, cars, computers, TVs and appliances get more technologically sophisticated seemingly every month, I have a really hard time believing that it is technologically impossible to build a smarter gun.

My suspicion is that the marketplace does not support gun technology improvements, perhaps because most gun buyers and users do not want or need a smarter gun.  As Grits astutely noted, a smarter gun might hurt the "gray market" gun trade, and most lawful gun users likely feel they can ensure safe gun use through self-help and old technology.  These realities, in turn, suggest that smart gun advances may require government or private funding that creates incentives outside the traditional market for tech innovation in this arena.  As I suggested in my prior post, a good Second Amendment decision in Heller from the Supreme Court might jump start a gun-tech movement.

February 26, 2008 at 09:15 AM | Permalink


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