Flawed poll claims most Americans would be willing to buy a "smart gun"

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health conducted a survey of potential weapon purchasers recently and it seems to have been clearly designed to produce an intended result rather than some clear eyed exploration of the subject matter. The topic under study was the new generation of so called “smart guns” and how willing people would be to purchase one if they were made available. According to this survey at least, plenty of folks were “willing” to give it a whirl. (NBC News)


Many Americans would consider “smart” or childproof weapons if they were to buy a new gun, a new study by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health finds.

Fifty-nine percent of respondents to the Web-based survey of nearly 4,000 people indicated interest in the tech-infused guns, which use fingerprint detection or wireless signals to limit use of the weapon to its owner.

I love how they work in caveats about the weapons being “child proof” in the description. Also, the analysis of the results provided by the study’s authors speaks lovingly about how it could lessen the toll of gun deaths in the United States. It could have come straight out of a Hillary Clinton stump speech.

Of course, there are some poison pills baked directly into their results if you read the full report. For example, who were they asking about possibly buying such weapons?

Non-owners of guns and people identifying as “liberal” were most likely to consider buying smart guns, while owners of multiple guns were least likely.

Why were you even asking liberal, non-gun owners who are probably never going to buy a gun of any type? Of course they’ll say yes to this because it supports their agenda, but they also have no idea what they’re talking about and would be among the most likely to accidentally blow their heads off because they wouldn’t know what to do with a weapon if they had one.


A better study was commissioned by the National Shooting Sports Foundation in 2013. It’s an actual, scientific survey, and the results were as different as you probably imagine.

Asked “How familiar are you with efforts to develop a firearm that will only fire for a specific authorized person(s)?”, only 20 percent of respondents said they were very or somewhat familiar with the concept of “smart gun” technology. When told that such firearms would incorporate biometric or radio frequency identification (RFID) with an activation system that would rely on battery power, 74 percent of respondents said that these firearms would not be reliable at all or very reliable. Only 16 percent thought “smart guns” would be very or somewhat reliable. Some 10 percent responded “don’t know.” Gun owners overwhelmingly (84%) believed a smart gun would not be reliable, while a clear majority (60%) of non-gun owners also believed they would not be reliable.

As you can see, gun owners tend to either be better informed already or at least have a sense of how far the technology has come along. Their skepticism over the readiness of this technology is fully justified, too. You may recall that I wrote last year about the results of some field testing of the Armatix iP1 “smart gun” and the results were not pretty.


The Armatix pistol initially required a full 20 minutes to pair with the watch, even with the aid of an IT pro trained in its use. Without pairing, the Armatix functions like any other handgun, capable of being fired by anyone.

Once paired, a “cold start” still requires a minimum of seven push-button commands and a duration of 12 seconds before the gun can be fired.

The pistol must be within 10 inches of the watch during “start up.” This slows and complicates the use of the pistol if one hand is injured or otherwise unavailable.

The Armatix is a fun looking toy with lots of gadgets to play with, but it’s still pretty much a disaster in terms of being ready to use as an effective home defense weapon. It’s also far from fool proof in terms of stopping any and all criminals from using it if they manage to snag one. (Details in the linked performance study.) The rest of the current crop of smart weapons are not much better, assuming they work at all under real world conditions.

That Johns Hopkins Bloomberg survey was done to stoke some political fires, not to provide any new scientific data. Sure, there are a lot of people (primarily liberals who are clueless about weapons to begin with) who would be “willing to try” a smart gun. But if they actually spent the massive amount of money required to purchase an unreliable and under powered weapon they would be highly disappointed.



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