March 1, 2024
Ready… aim… click! (Biofire/Facebook)

“US ‘smart gun’ which opens with facial recognition fails during demonstration,” The Telegraph reported Friday. “In a demonstration at Biofire headquarters in Broomfield, Colorado, [company founder Kai] Kloepfer initially fired a round without issue and set the gun down. Then another man tried to shoot but was unable to because the gun did not recognise his face. Mr Kloepfer then came back to fire it again. It was at that point the gun unexpectedly went click on two occasions, though it did fire on subsequent trigger pulls.”

It wasn’t the electronics, Kloepfer maintained, insisting the problem was mechanical. Besides, it also works on fingerprint recognition.

For whatever reason, you’ll have to take their word for it. Per Lee “The Gun Writer” Williams, Biofire is refusing to allow independent reviews of its firearm.

Those of us with “dumb” guns that aren’t dependent on an array of batteries, power sources, electronic circuitry, and software, but somehow manage to fire successfully every time without our firearms recognizing either faces or fingerprints, have cause to be skeptical. Had this been a real-world defensive gun use situation, an assailant with murder on his mind is hardly likely to wait around while his victim tries to work out why he’s getting a 50% failure rate.

It’s not the first time a “smart gun” has failed for the media.

There was the Lodestar, that “couldn’t fire two rounds back-to-back.” Before that was the Armatix, with a host of problems including:

“While the gun holds a maximum of 11 rounds (10+1), the best our experts could manage was nine consecutive rounds without a failure to fire (and that only once). Three or four misfires per magazine were common, despite using various brands of ammunition.”

Further, a hacker was able to shut off the Armatix using electronics and get it to fire using magnets.  That makes fair the still unanswered question from 10 years back of why the California Department of Justice included the gun on its roster despite it not meeting the microstamping requirement mandated for every other manufacturer.

Coming in unloaded at 2.4 Lbs. the Biofire weighs significantly more than other common 9mm handguns. And an MSRP of $1,499 makes it significantly more expensive on average, enough to where it is priced beyond the means of Americans living in areas where the need for safe and reliable self-protection is heightened.

Aside from that and all the technical performance problems that will arise when adding inhibitors with the sole purpose of delaying or preventing a mechanism from functioning on demand, there are legal concerns. But we’re assured those have been alleviated because New Jersey repealed its law requiring only “smart guns” could be sold in the Garden State once a viable model was offered on the market.

Who thinks the prohibitionists wouldn’t reinstate such an edict the moment they thought they could get away with it? And while such a law could ultimately fail under the Bruen standard, the state has virtually unlimited tax plunder to tie things up in court for years, possibly even long enough for a Democrat majority to come into being and appoint new Supreme Court justices eager to “revisit” the issue.

Then there’s the danger demonstrated by the hacker and further corroborated by remote “shutoff switches” on thermostats and cars. Does anyone seriously think no Democrat will get the idea to mandate them to be installed in guns?

Meanwhile, efforts haven’t stopped at the federal level with a bill offering “incentives for manufacturers and consumers designed to promote the development and purchase of smart-gun technology such as biometric or fingerprint locks and radio-frequency identification.” It’s just another way to slip the camel’s nose under the tent for later exploitation.

“[S]mart gun features [are] designed to avoid accidental shootings by children, reduce suicides, protect police from gun grabs, or render lost and stolen guns useless,” The Telegraph article asserts without any substantiation on how effective such promises will prove to be.

Author and attorney, David Kopel has noted:

“Harvard’s Kip Viscusi has detailed, federal laws requiring ‘childproof’ safety caps appear to have led to a documented increase in child poisonings. Lulled by the presence of the federally-approved safety device on medicine bottles, many adults have been leaving dangerous medicines within easy reach of children.”

As for reducing suicides, the whole point of “smart guns” is to recognize who wants to pull the trigger.

Training and retention holsters would appear to be the primary deterrents to “takeaway” incidents, and it would seem that any police officer who has allowed a suspect to disarm him has already lost half if not all the battle. Perhaps more trust in Biofire’s reliability could be gained if police and sheriff’s departments and federal law enforcment agencies deployed with “smart” sidearms…

And the book’s not in on how hackers would do with lost or stolen guns. Perhaps BioFire could show its confidence by offering a substantial reward to anyone who can defeat their safeguards and we’ll see what happens.

“The Biofire Smart Gun was designed specifically for real gun owners who want a quality home defense firearm that cannot be used by children or criminals,” said Mike Corbett, a Biofire advisor, with “former member of SEAL Team 6” creds thrown in to seal the deal. The “gravitas” has been established, but what it has to do with firearms design qualifications is left unstated. “In a few years, I believe that the head of every household in America who wants a home defense firearm is going to choose this Smart Gun.”

They do all realize that if it fails to operate as advertised, they won’t be able to rely on the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act to shield them from product liability suits…?

There may be those who still want to own “smart guns,” and no one is saying they shouldn’t have that choice (as long as their choices don’t end up limiting ours). But reality dictates there can be no “one-size-fits-all” approach, and no amount of company promises or legislative posturing or courtroom wrangling will ever alter one simple truth:

Anyone who relies on gadgetry as a substitute for responsibility, accountability, judgment, and training in the use of firearms is courting tragedy.

About David Codrea:

David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating/defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament. He blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” is a regularly featured contributor to Firearms News, and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.

David Codrea

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