How to solve gun violence? A designer’s perspective.

Example scenarios

Home assault

Probably the most common scenario and most feared one is where someone is assaulted in their own home. Now when there is a burglary or assault taking place these are the first steps one should take, they should lock themselves in a secure room that serves as an extra barrier between them and the intruding people, then the second step should be taking out your phone to call 911. In my application this is automatically done for you, at this moment you’re grabbing for your gun! This is serious business, and requires immediate assistance by law enforcement. Your phone prompts you for the security code to use your gun, after this clears out with the server, you’re locked and loaded. In this scenario where there clearly is an emergency taking place, the phone starts an audio recording, by doing this, law enforcement can be kept up to date of progression in the situation while approaching your GPS coordinates and it can later serve as evidence in cases where pulling the trigger was deemed necessary, when that is? I don’t know, I’m not a lawyer. But what I can say is that in this situation everyone involved is accounted for. Even the attacker is protected from any trigger happy citizens through the creation of an audio record. We could probably even make it so that based on where guns are located, law enforcement could overwrite any firing ability of guns within a certain range in other words they could disarm any armed attackers before they are even close to the crime location.

School shooting

Several horrific events of this kind have taken place in the recent months, where in the most common scenario a young man gets his hands on a full automatic rifle with a bunch of large capacity magazines, who has deliberately planned a scenario where he starts firing on innocent civilians in a public space of some sort. Now with this application it would be extremely difficult for this gun to be fired in any public area if not close to impossible. The GPS coordinates or an accurate triangulation of the shooters phone would give away his location and will automatically block any firing of this gun if this area is deemed to be a public space. I believe a solution like this could save many lives in situations like these.

There is still work to be done…

As this is a design that could make a difference between life and death in certain situations, it is very important to look into the flaws of the design. I mean most likely the system has security holes, where one could maybe hack their phone to fake the GPS locations. Or what happens if the user is not connected to any internet and therefor not connected to the server? How quickly can a user get their gun to be in firing mode? It should all be tested and researched, but that research would surely beat the 10 million dollar requested by President Obama to be spent on the research of the influence of games on violence. Personally I really wonder how they plan on testing this, and where the results actually have a meaning.

I hereby end this blog post, if you enjoyed this article or have your own ideas and suggestions feel free to leave them in the comments.

  • Giuseppe on Jan 30, 2013 Reply

    That’s an interesting concept. I would add a 360° camera on the gun sending live feed images to police when the gun enters in emergency mode.
    It should discourage offenders to think they can be unpunished.

  • Steven Hoober on Jan 18, 2013 Reply

    1) There’s been lots of work done on biometrics, and other sensors attached to guns. They have been put into the field and tested.

    2) These systems, which are MUCH simpler than your crazy network-connected thing, are massively unreliable compared to the needed reliability of firearms.

    Disregarding the literally insurmountable issues of replacing every gun with an intrinsically smart gun (else we can modify them to shoot without the connecting electronics) what if, say, a responding police officer’s gun fails to register correctly, so he can’t shoot it? Because the only way a system like this works is if ALL devices are locked down, from single-shot .22s through police guns. Oh, and army weapons also. It’s not even slightly unheard of for there to be theft (or even: robbery of guards at bases!) to get these.

    Plus, you are making the usual problem assumption error. If we assume there is a problem with gun induced deaths, most (by many orders of magnitude) are not scary black guns at school, but could be any gun, in the home, etc. So now where am I allowed to shoot it?

    • Marnix_IxD on Jan 18, 2013 Reply

      Thanks for the input Steven,

      I’ll reply point wise to arguments in your comment:
      1. Yes there have been made a lot of attempts on making guns safer through the use of biometrics and sensors, but none of them are commonly implemented either due to cost, efficiency, reliability and the way they fit into natural behavior patterns for the usage of a gun.

      2. I agree my suggestion is far from perfect, but was written to provoke thoughts and discussion on the topic. Maybe changing guns themselves isn’t the right solution, since WE are the problem, it isn’t the guns, they are just pieces of metal if left untouched so maybe the public opinion on guns needs to be changed. But nonetheless I do believe the system I describe here isn’t THAT crazy, I mean Nike+ has the ability to connect a pair of shoes or bracelet to a smartphone or iPod. So why should connecting a gun to a phone be labeled as crazy? The complexity of a code unlocking process and validating this code through a phone is easier and cheaper than implementing biometrics or sensors to calculate grip pressure. In my mind the phone should be a natural thing to grab first in the moment where you’re endangered. I mean the first step should be to signal for help, and then you can pick up a gun to control the situation. It shouldn’t be done the other way around. I mean that would mean you first shoot the person and then call for help to clean up the body if you did get in trouble.

      I do agree that the number of guns that would need to be modified or exchanged is completely out of control and that might indeed be the biggest problem. I mean for every 100 Americans there is 86 guns in their households, which is a mind boggling number. People could decide to never get them modified. If people don’t see any reason to make guns safer in their own home then this problem is impossible to fix.

      I’m personally assuming that 10000 gun induced deaths yearly is a significant problem, especially when these number include lives of innocents, it SHOULD BE worth changing guns for. But if this is an acceptable number to the American citizens, this number of deaths will just be a yearly sacrifice the people are willing to make to keep guns the way they are, in this case even the best solution will get fail just because nobody feels like putting in any effort to help make them safer/better…

      The intrinsic smart part going into the rifle/gun/firearm/handgun would be an extra safety pin which is unlocked by establishing a valid connection to the phone of the user. This can be a small chip that is embedded inside the gun’s trigger mechanism and receives data through Bluetooth. With technologies constantly improving in a couple of years this should be no problem to have in a stable form.

      Which privileges law enforcement should have in this system I haven’t researched or specifically designed for. Sure they should have a system that keeps them in control too even if it is only to make the citizens think that the game is fair…

      As to the point of guns being stolen from the army… this just shouldn’t be doable, I mean that is up to the army to lock away their equipment from the public or from soldiers that have no need for a gun in their hands at that time. In Israel they have automated sentry guns covering their borders from anyone crossing. Surely this could be done for a military arms depot.

      Now you ask the question where would you be allowed to fire your own firearm/pistol/gun/rifle with this technology? The answer is inside any location that is your personal property, at a shooting range or out in nature/hunting areas. Is there any other place you want to be able to fire a gun?