The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Conference Center > Law and Civil Rights

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old February 20, 2014, 09:13 AM   #1
Dashunde
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 22, 2004
Posts: 1,691
Another "Smart Gun" Bill, but what about Manufacturers Liabilities?

The latest Smart Gun bill got me thinking about any possible legal benefits for manufacturers, reducing prices and allowing us to buy things as we wish instead of what is mandated?

Instead of attempting to require smart technology, why not seek liability exemptions/relief for manufacturers who produce them, thereby enabling the Smart Gun to be sold at or around the same price as current guns, and let the market grow from there?

The highly popular line of XD's (and similar) clearly show that a good number of us like guns with extra safety items built in, so it wouldn’t surprise me at all if a fingerprint reading pistol would be a big seller.

I don’t know what the current liability burden really is for gun makers (that’s why this thread is here), but it must play a significant roll on its retail price like almost every other object?
Is there room for laws of liability exemption?

I currently keep my nightstand pistol in a Gunvault... I would much rather have the same gun model left out open in the drawer awaiting my (or wife) finger prints to bring it alive.
But a nightstand gun is the only gun I'd want that way because its simply a trade-off... locked box with gun inside traded for easy access to locked gun.

Added for clarity...
This thread is not intended to discuss whether or not you or I like smart guns or think they'd be reliable.
(Althought I think they'd be just as reliable as the keypad safe it would otherwise be kept for my purposes)
Its about whether or not a manufacturer could find some liability relief for those products to better offset additional expense allowing that market to grow, or not, with market demand rather than government demands

Last edited by Dashunde; February 20, 2014 at 12:19 PM.
Dashunde is offline  
Old February 20, 2014, 09:51 AM   #2
themalicious0ne
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 13, 2012
Location: Oconomowoc, WI
Posts: 152
Smart Gun

I actually just entered a competition for smart gun technologies.

There are many downsides that I see with a fingerprint style gun. I do not believe that the prices could be competitive with this in place. While some people may buy it, I dont see it becoming the norm, especially against guns without fingerprinting on the same market.

Another big reason would be reliability. Say you had one on a self defense gun, what if it doesn't read your print the first time? That is a major flaw. Any owner who likes their guns geared self defense, military, or LEO; these guns are out.

Lastly, the gun would have to be fingerprinted to you. No one wants gun registry, this could be thought of as similar. Where would you go to switch the fingerprint to a new user if you were to sell? How could you let anyone else use your gun?

The only way I see them picking up steam is 100% reliability, 0% difference in price at inception, and some sort of way to change the fingerprint for someone else. Maybe someday in the far distant future it will be possible. I think it very unlikely.
themalicious0ne is offline  
Old February 20, 2014, 11:34 AM   #3
kraigwy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 16, 2008
Location: Wyoming
Posts: 9,397
When I first hired on the Anchorage Police Dept. I was finger printed. Bad prints, unreadable. I was told to come back for re-printing in six months.

Why, because the two years prior I live in a little cabin north of McKinley Park, no running water, no electricity, meaning a wood stove for cooking and heating. Playing with wood stoves means burnt fingers and bad finger prints.

OK that was a long time ago. Now I'm retired BUT being a cheap SOB I use wood for heat because its free. Again wood stoves mean burned fingers.

So I now I have to get a gun that requires my finger prints. Fine, so winter shows up and I got burnt fingers, unreadable finger prints and my gun don't work.

Not my idea of having a defense handgun available.

One thing that scares me more then anything else is one of my grandkids or their friends getting my guns. So I have them locked in a safe. Well not all my guns, I still want a hand gun available instantly, which means not having to go to the safe. I also don't want kids getting them. So I stick a revolver in my pocket. Its always available for me, not available to kids, and I don't have to worry about fingerprints or any other doo dad that I have to hope works.

No Sir, you can keep you gimmicks, I'll keep my revolver in my pocket and have the best of both worlds, a gun that I know works and in a place I can get it ANYTIME yet kids cant.
__________________
Kraig Stuart
CPT USAR Ret
USAMU Sniper School Oct '78
Distinguished Rifle Badge 1071
kraigwy is online now  
Old February 20, 2014, 12:02 PM   #4
carguychris
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 20, 2007
Location: Richardson, TX
Posts: 5,460
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dashunde
Instead of attempting to require smart technology, why not seek liability exemptions/relief for manufacturers who produce them, thereby enabling the Smart Gun to be sold at or around the same price as current guns, and let the market grow from there?
What leads you to believe that liability relief will be adequate to offset the cost of the technology?
__________________
"Smokey, this is not 'Nam. This is bowling. There are rules... MARK IT ZERO!!" - Walter Sobchak
carguychris is online now  
Old February 20, 2014, 12:25 PM   #5
Dashunde
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 22, 2004
Posts: 1,691
I'm not sure it would, thats part of my question here... what legal responsibilities to manufactures currently have?
How often are they sued?
Are they already protected somehow?
What approximate percentage of a pistols sale price goes toward insurance, and would it be reduced significantly for a smart gun?

Cessna was repeatedly sued almost into bankruptcy for airplanes that crashed some 30+ years after they were produced, bought and sold several times and after so many others had worked on them, replaced engines and so on.
They finally found some protection from these types of claims.
That is the kind of thing I'm thinking of for gun manufacturers.
Dashunde is offline  
Old February 20, 2014, 12:36 PM   #6
KyJim
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 26, 2005
Location: The Bluegrass
Posts: 7,530
It occurred to me that stray electronic signals could accidentally turn off the device, like what apparently happens when one of my TVs turns itself on. Since it is marketed for this safety feature, I could see some potential liability there because you know some idiot is going to thing the gun is really safe to point at somebody else.
__________________
Jim's Rules of Carry: 1. Any gun is better than no gun. 2. A gun that is reliable is better than a gun that is not. 3. A hole in the right place is better than a hole in the wrong place. 4. A bigger hole is a better hole.
KyJim is offline  
Old February 20, 2014, 12:50 PM   #7
JimDandy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: August 8, 2012
Posts: 2,400
Quote:
The only way I see them picking up steam is 100% reliability
How does one create 100% reliability in an electronic device? One dead battery and your 100% is gone.

Quote:
Its about whether or not a manufacturer could find some liability relief for those products to better offset additional expense allowing that market to grow, or not, with market demand rather than government demands
What liability relief are you suggesting? Firearms manufacturers already have this don't they? From 15 U.S. Code Chapter 105 - PROTECTION OF LAWFUL COMMERCE IN ARMS.
JimDandy is offline  
Old February 20, 2014, 12:55 PM   #8
KyJim
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 26, 2005
Location: The Bluegrass
Posts: 7,530
Quote:
What liability relief are you suggesting? Firearms manufacturers already have this don't they? From 15 U.S. Code Chapter 105 - PROTECTION OF LAWFUL COMMERCE IN ARMS.
Well, no. That protects manufacturers from liability for the unlawful or criminal misuse of firearms. It does not protect them from normal products liability suits. For example, a gun barrel blows up and kills the shooter. If due to a negligently manufactured or designed firearm, there would still be liability.
__________________
Jim's Rules of Carry: 1. Any gun is better than no gun. 2. A gun that is reliable is better than a gun that is not. 3. A hole in the right place is better than a hole in the wrong place. 4. A bigger hole is a better hole.
KyJim is offline  
Old February 20, 2014, 01:09 PM   #9
JimDandy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: August 8, 2012
Posts: 2,400
Why would you give that sort of immunity to a manufacturer? And why would anyone buy a product that uses a controlled explosive force from someone who has no fear of putting out an inferior and defective product?
JimDandy is offline  
Old February 20, 2014, 01:13 PM   #10
eldermike
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 24, 2013
Location: NC
Posts: 545
The assumption is wrong or unproven, that crime would go down if someone other than you could NOT fire your gun without making some easy hack to your technology driven gun. It's an emotional assumption. If we are going to use science to benifit us in some way, then why not use it to make proper decisions on it's good uses.

Technology is hacked every day by kids with no training. Locks are used to keep people out of rooms filled with technology because you can't prevent people from hacking it unless you lock it up. Guns come with locks, the problem is solved already.
eldermike is offline  
Old February 20, 2014, 01:29 PM   #11
SHE3PDOG
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 27, 2013
Posts: 978
I don't think it would offer any liability relief at all. In fact, the Mass. smart gun proposal also has in it that gun manufacturers be held more liable for incidents involving their guns.

Furthermore, I really don't think smart guns would sell very well. They would likely cost a good bit more than a standard one, and there are huge downfalls with reliability and cicrcumstantial inoperability (i.e. I decided to wear gloves that day) that there is no way I'd ever accept it.
__________________
Semper Fi

Marine, NRA member, SAF Defender's Club member, and constitutionally protected keeper and bearer of firearms
SHE3PDOG is offline  
Old February 20, 2014, 03:25 PM   #12
44 AMP
Staff
 
Join Date: March 11, 2006
Location: Upper US
Posts: 11,214
Simple answer...

Quote:
Instead of attempting to require smart technology, why not seek liability exemptions/relief for manufacturers who produce them, thereby enabling the Smart Gun to be sold at or around the same price as current guns, and let the market grow from there?
Simple answer:

because, if they don't require smart gun tech, merely do things that encourage the market (tax breaks, etc) then they don't have the authority to ban non smart guns.

(not that they do, but that's the tactic expected).

Smart guns are "safe". They use the law to require you to be "safe". Then, once this is established and accepted, they ban the guns that aren't "safe".
This does not infringe on 2nd Amendment rights (their view) because you can still buy all the modern "safe" guns you want. Only these old, outdated, unsafe guns are being prohibited. get the picture?

There is NO technology that works 100%. Sometimes, even rocks break.

We debate endlessly (although some of the debate is just for our own entertainment) about reliability for carry guns. Some folks are adamant about the increased risk of an internal lock system. And that is a mechanical system.

Now add in an electronic system. That's not just ONE more thing that might go wrong, that's a whole laundry list of additional things that might go wrong.

Now, WHEN (not if) it does fail, and someone is injured or killed as a result, who gets the responsibility? Deep pockets? The fool who trusted the tech? The lawmaker who required you to use it? Anyone else? Morally, I know where I would place it, but legally?
__________________
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
44 AMP is offline  
Old February 20, 2014, 07:21 PM   #13
Dashunde
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 22, 2004
Posts: 1,691
Quote:
Smart guns are "safe". They use the law to require you to be "safe". Then, once this is established and accepted, they ban the guns that aren't "safe".
This does not infringe on 2nd Amendment rights (their view) because you can still buy all the modern "safe" guns you want. Only these old, outdated, unsafe guns are being prohibited. get the picture?
I think you hit upon what might be our biggest concern with smart guns aside from the obvious issues with gloves, worn finger prints, sweaty/wet fingers, hacking etc..
If its produced and proven reliable 99.9% of the time under typical circumstances then they'd have a track record none of us would like, thereby making it more difficult to repel their incessant attempts to restrict firearms using every crack and crevasse the can find or create.
Dashunde is offline  
Old February 21, 2014, 02:48 AM   #14
62coltnavy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 1, 2011
Posts: 209
KyJim is correct: manufacturers can be held liable for producing defective products. If your gun blows up in your face, or fires when no one is pulling the trigger, etc., the manufacturer can be held liable for any resulting injury or death. And that would be strict liability--no need to prove negligence, only defect.

So let's take this one step further. Let's say your smart gun tech fails and your gun does not shoot. Is it too far a stretch to suggest that the manufacturer would be sued by your estate when you are unable to defend yourself with your faulty gun? You bet your bippy.

As an aside, someone mentioned cost. The only smart gun on the market today is a German .22LR semiauto pistol that has a MSRP of $1300. And the company that builds it is losing money (probably because they can't sell them, but that's another story.) So we are talking about $800-$1000 additional cost to produce such a gun.
62coltnavy is offline  
Old February 21, 2014, 06:07 AM   #15
ATN082268
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 2, 2013
Posts: 108
Control and such...

Although there are issues with smart guns like cost and reliability, that isn't what concerns me the most. It wouldn't surprise me if the government required every gun except theirs to have some sort of smart gun technology. And why? So they can jam the gun with the smart gun technology when they want to and their guns won't be vulnerable to the same trick. It is a matter of control.
ATN082268 is offline  
Old February 21, 2014, 08:32 AM   #16
Tom Servo
Staff
 
Join Date: September 27, 2008
Location: Foothills of the Appalachians
Posts: 10,181
Quote:
So let's take this one step further. Let's say your smart gun tech fails and your gun does not shoot. Is it too far a stretch to suggest that the manufacturer would be sued by your estate when you are unable to defend yourself with your faulty gun? You bet your bippy.
We can assume that if a defect in a product causes harm, there would be potential liability. But if it fails to do harm?

Yes, the weapon is designed to do harm. But would I be able to sell that to a jury? I'm not so sure.
__________________
In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.
--Albert Camus
Tom Servo is offline  
Old February 21, 2014, 10:48 AM   #17
KyJim
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 26, 2005
Location: The Bluegrass
Posts: 7,530
Quote:
We can assume that if a defect in a product causes harm, there would be potential liability. But if it fails to do harm?
Think of a seat belt that doesn't restrain the passenger or an airbag that doesn't deploy. There's potential liability there. I would think the same might be the case for a smart gun that doesn't shoot. I'm not a products liability attorney but, depending upon how unreliable the technology is, then perhaps there's liability for negligent design. No machine is perfect so the rate of defective performance would be important. If the failure rate is not much different than "dumb" guns, then I can't see liability for that.
__________________
Jim's Rules of Carry: 1. Any gun is better than no gun. 2. A gun that is reliable is better than a gun that is not. 3. A hole in the right place is better than a hole in the wrong place. 4. A bigger hole is a better hole.
KyJim is offline  
Old February 21, 2014, 10:58 AM   #18
2ndsojourn
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 15, 2013
Location: South Jersey
Posts: 619
"...sold in New Jersey..."

From KyJim in another thread:
"Yes, New Jersey has a law that specifically mandates that when at least ONE gun is available for commercial sale IN ANY STATE that incorporates "smart" technology, then all handguns sold in New Jersey must incorporate "smart' technology. Yes, there is such a gun built by a German manufacturer, in .22LR only, that it can't apparently find a market for in Germany. it is, however, on the California Roster of "Not Unsafe" Handguns, and is available for retail sale in at least on LA area gun store. I've read that some senator in Jersey has asked the AG to certify that the requirements of the law have been met, and that the law is now in effect. Sad to say, all you people in New Jersey won't be able to prepare for any such determination by buying guns now, since, as I understand it, it takes months to just get a purchase permit. By then it will be too late. I also suspect that, notwithstanding the immediate elimination of all handgun sales in the state, the local courts will rule that gun sales are subject to regulation in the public interest, as confirmed by the Supreme Court in (dicta in) Heller. Not that I am buying such nonsense, I just think the New jersey courts are absolutely opposed to the possession of firearms by the public and will do anything and everything it can to assure that they are banned. "


How will this affect a purchase from a dealer from Gunbroker, then transferred through a local FFL? When the law says sold in NJ, could this be intrepeted to be a sale in another state? Technically, the gun wasn't sold in NJ.

Edit: Along the same line, what if I was to drive 20 minutes over the bridge to Philly, buy a handgun there, and have them ship it to my local FFL. I didn't buy the gun in NJ.

2nd edit: I'm asking this because I have 2 permits (to purchase) in processing for the past few weeks. The intent was the BOGO offer from Sig, but I'll just buy something else since that bus left the curb as soon as it arrived.

Last edited by 2ndsojourn; February 21, 2014 at 11:12 AM.
2ndsojourn is offline  
Old February 21, 2014, 08:38 PM   #19
war_elephant
Member
 
Join Date: June 29, 2010
Location: NJ
Posts: 70
The problem you will face is that it will be unlawful for any FFL/SFL in NJ to transfer the gun to you, or maybe even to have it in the inventory. May have to refuse the shipment. Another reason I am selling and moving out of NJ.
__________________
Marine, Retired LEO, Firearms Instructor, Life Member NRA Tea Party Member, and general all around trouble maker.
war_elephant is offline  
Old February 22, 2014, 10:46 AM   #20
johnwilliamson062
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 16, 2008
Posts: 6,772
Anyone thinking this is a great idea hasn't played with the biometric safes much.
Wood stoves aren't the only thing that ruins fingerprints. My fingers don't work on biometric locks b/c the tips are covered in small cuts.
__________________
$0 of an NRA membership goes to legislative action or court battles. Not a dime. Only money contributed to the NRA-ILA or NRA-PVF. You could just donate to the Second Amendment Foundation
First Shotgun Thread First Rifle Thread First Pistol Thread
johnwilliamson062 is offline  
Old February 22, 2014, 04:01 PM   #21
62coltnavy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 1, 2011
Posts: 209
I have to disagree with KyJim about the scope of liability under a products theory, As a general rule, products liability is also called "strict liability in tort." The practical effect of this title is that negligence need not be demonstrated. Instead, the plaintiff's burden is merely to demonstrate the existence of a manufacturing or design defect that caused harm. Design defect can be shown either by demonstration of an error in the plan or specification or by showing that the product failed to perform as a reasonable consumer would expect. A loaded gun that does not fire when the trigger is pulled would fail the latter test. Then the burden shifts to the manufacturer to show the "reasonableness" of its design. That gets pretty technical, so we'll skip that part. Is it possible to defense a products liability claim? sure. Is it difficult? Yup.
62coltnavy is offline  
Old February 22, 2014, 04:05 PM   #22
62coltnavy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 1, 2011
Posts: 209
It would seem that the effect of the law will be to ban the sale of any handgun in NJ other than "safe" handguns, leading to an immediate ordered cessation of all future sales or transfers by NJ based FFLs other than this .22 pistol. I assume a lawsuit will be filed the same day.
62coltnavy is offline  
Old February 22, 2014, 09:16 PM   #23
Tom Servo
Staff
 
Join Date: September 27, 2008
Location: Foothills of the Appalachians
Posts: 10,181
Merging this one with an existing thread on the issue. We now return to your regularly scheduled programming.
__________________
In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.
--Albert Camus
Tom Servo is offline  
Old February 22, 2014, 10:28 PM   #24
BitterTait
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 9, 2009
Location: Michigan
Posts: 133
I'd say government-covered liability is about the only thing that could bring the guns to market. Concerns of lawsuits due to ND/criminals stealing the guns is one thing. The concern I would have is lawsuits over the security features failing.

Imagine junior gets his hand on the SmartGun. This gun is designed only to fire by using a finger print scanner embedded in the stock. Pappa was careful; he chainges the batteries monthly, he practiced the right grip in all conditions to make sure he could always instantly unlock it. To make sure nothing bad would happen he never programmed Junior's finger print into the gun. Junior then uses jello and silly putty (or if he can't cook, simple scotch tape) to make a replica of Pappas finger print, fires up the gun and puts one through his foot. Massive lawsuit.

Lets say the gun maker comes out with the SmarterGun. This gun uses the RFID bracelet idea, it only works if a special bracelet is worn and Papa makes sure it's on him even when he showers. Junior, not the smartest boy, finds the gun again, pulls the gun apart to see how it works, notes the little solenoid that moves a bit of metal back and forth to block the hammer or allow the sear to travel. Using a piece of paperclip to hold the solenoid in the "make gun go bang" position Junior can now shoot off his other foot. Second massive lawsuit.

These are much more likely (and news cycle friendly) liabilities than the "lets sue the gunmakers for making a gun that anyone can sell". It's the self driving car conundrum, no one wants to make a car that can drive by it's self, even if it is 1000 times safer than a regular car if it fails in our litigious societies the rare cases it does fail more or less guarantee that the manufacturer gets a whopping lawsuit and attention grabbing headlines.

If I did have $1300 to burn, I would buy the Armatix iP1 just to see how easily it would be to bypass the smart band. I'm guessing there's three simple ways: Bit of metal or plastic in the right place to disable the disconnect mechanism, simple solder bridge or wire to make sure the current to the disconnect control is always on and directly hacking the radio signal. Hollywoodesque but a real possibility given things like this in the wild.

Random thought: This is pure Hollywood terror plot, but lets say RFID-locked guns become mandatory at a police department. Tech savvy criminals may start carrying powerful radio jammers that work at the same spectrum the RFID signal. Not a likely attack but it would be tempting to bring the jammer to the next SHOT show or press junket demonstrating the gun, sitting in the back and randomly activating it.
__________________
Powered by VI!
BitterTait is offline  
Old February 23, 2014, 12:04 AM   #25
skizzums
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 1, 2013
Location: Douglasville, Ga
Posts: 1,392
everyone keeps talking finger-prints, arent these new smart guns just like smart car keys? using a rfid chip on your person to unlock the gun? it doesnt take away the problem of hacking and batteries, but i dont believe quality of fingerprints is a problem

my biggst concern is the expectation of having your current dumb guns retro-fitted with smart-keys, is that even possible? and if so, it wouuld obviously be very easy to restore the gun to its previous configurations, so i dont think it would do anything to keep stolen guns off the streets

sorry, i did exactly what the op asked not to do and talk about the reliability of the tech
__________________
My head is bloody, but unbowed
skizzums is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:42 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2014 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.13895 seconds with 7 queries