Partial Transcript: Episode 25 (Gun Safety)

Andrew: Today we’re going to talk about “smart” guns, which is a huge misnomer.

Virginia: This goes back to an article that I sent to all the guys yesterday from Slate.com.  The article says that manufacturers should change guns to make them smarter.

Nick: Should be required to…

Andrew: According to the article, there is this really technology where the gun reads your palm and only fires when you’re holding it.  It’s a great theory, but it’s less so in practice.

Nick: Especially when you realize that most of the people who would take it are family members who have also been “added” to the gun.

Andrew: That’s only a small reason that I’m against it.  In the article they claim that one in one hundred attempts would see a failure.  Therefore, 99% of the time the gun would fire when you, the authorized user, were holding it.

Nick: It wasn’t really stated as a failure rate.  It was a false negative.

Mike: They said it was no different than a mechanical failure.

Andrew: That’s where they’re wrong.  I have a Springfield Armory XD9 subcompact.  I’ve fired 4-5,000 rounds through it so far.

Nick: With how many failures?

Andrew: One.  And that’s because it was a bad piece of ammunition.  A failure rate of one in a hundred is way higher than the current mechanical failure rate.

Virginia: I’m just curious.  What does it actually do when it fails?

Andrew: It just wouldn’t let you fire the gun.

Virginia: And how easy would that be to hack?

Andrew: I’m guessing it’s be pretty easy.  It’s probably something like shorting out two pins.  How could you fit that much security in the handle of a gun?

Nick: And what are the chances that it’s a mechanical stop?  What if you literally have to remove one pin to disable it?

Andrew: I imagine it would be easy to bypass.  Unless you did something ridiculously bulky, I can’t think of a way to make it hackproof.

Mike: Unless you used smart bullets.

Andrew: I’m not even going to get into that!

Virginia: So we’ve defeated the one in a hundred failure rate claim?

Andrew: Here’s the thing.  They claim in the article that it’s 99% successful.  But if you read the white paper they link to, it’s actually 89.44%.  And, they don’t even get into false positives. So, if it can only recognize you 89% of the time, one bullet in a 13 round magazine won’t fire.  That’s ridiculous.

Nick: Let’s give another example.  Voice to text is about 90% accurate.  How many people find it really useful in their daily lives?

Andrew: It’s minorly useful.

Nick: It’s mostly un-useful.  If I talk to Siri and make a statement, there’s a higher chance that Siri won’t get it right.  The second big point they kept making was magazine safety.

Andrew: That one is bullshit too.  Here is an example.  Let’s say that you’re in a firefight for your life.  I have two magazines on me because 90% of failures are magazine related.  You only have one or two rounds in your current magazine, so you decide to load the other one.  You still have a round in the chamber.  Without a magazine disconnect, you can’t do anything until you put the magazine in the gun.  The only reason people talk about it is because of users firing the gun when they think it’s unloaded.

Mike: It’s because they don’t know how to use safeties.

Virginia: Maybe I missed this, but what is a magazine disconnect?

Nick: So, if the magazine is outside of the gun, the gun won’t fire, even if a round is in the chamber.

Andrew: There are plenty of guns that have these already.  It’s annoying.  I hate it.

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