Don Stratton: Smart guns? Really not a smart idea

By Don Stratton - Guest Columnist

Don Stratton

Don Stratton

Perpetual presidential candidate Joe Biden is at it again, playing firearms politics like he has done before, and once again proving that he knows little or nothing about guns. He is now proposing that all guns be banned except so-called “smart guns.”

First, he stupidly proposed shotguns as ideal defense weapons for housewives, totally clueless of the fact that the average housewife firing a shotgun without training and experience would probably be knocked across the room by the unexpected recoil.

Next, he bragged that he, in his words, had succeeded in limiting the number of clips (????) in a gun. Since no one has ever built a gun that uses more than one clip at a time — except for sometimes taping two of them end to end for a quick swap — he obviously meant limiting the number of rounds in a clip, as some states have already done.

His latest smart gun proposal has created a lot of discussion of the pros and cons of smart gun technology. Most of the support for the idea comes from people on the left, many of whom, if you handed them a pistol, probably could not show you from which end the bullet is supposed to emerge.

The idea of a smart weapon, with electronics that permit it be used only by its owner, first came up about 20 years ago when major gun maker Smith & Wesson bowed to political pressure from the Clinton administration. The results were disastrous. Gun buyers began to distance themselves from S & W in droves, causing major financial repercussions for the company. They experienced and almost 40% drop in business, and had to sell out to another company.

Gun buyers, particularly those who are buying weapons for self-defense, do not want to entrust their lives to questionable electronic technology that may or may not work when needed. If you think electronic technology is foolproof then you must be one of the few who do not own a computer, a cell phone, or a navigation system — all of which are subject to outages, hacking, component failures, and a host of other problems.

My own experiences with electronics cause me to want no part of any such technology in a self-defense weapon. On at least two occasions, a vehicle’s navigation system has led me to the wrong location and showed that I had arrived at my destination when I was nowhere near it. In Moline, Illinois, the navigation system led me twice to a spot where it announced that I had arrived at my destination, when actually I was about five miles from it. I also drove about 30 miles out of my way in the hills of eastern Kentucky, following a vehicle’s electronic compass that showed I was heading due south, only to find that the compass was slightly in error — exactly 180 degrees — and I was headed north.

Another recent bout with electronic failure has both me and the service manager at my car dealer both scratching our heads. We parked next to the sign in front of a favorite restaurant, and went in to eat. When we were finished, we tried to get into the car and the electronic door locks would not work. I tried the button on the door handle, the button on the remote and the combination lock built into the door. None of them worked. I was standing beside the car contemplating what to do next, when the restaurant’s cook stuck his head out of the kitchen door, and asked, “Are you having trouble getting in your car?”

When I replied that I was, he said, “Let me turn off our sign; it somehow interferes with the electronic system on late model Fords. I’ll leave it off until you get going because you won’t be able to start the car either with the sign turned on.”

If a sign can accidentally turn off electronics, think what a hacker with a plan could do to electronic guns. I can envision a scenario where I need to use a weapon to defend myself, and have to say to an armed adversary, “Time out while I move a little further away from this sign.”

Don Stratton Stratton

By Don Stratton

Guest Columnist

Don Stratton is a retired inspector for the Lima Police Department. He writes a guest column for The Lima News, often focusing on police matters.

Don Stratton is a retired inspector for the Lima Police Department. He writes a guest column for The Lima News, often focusing on police matters.

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