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Boffin imagines Wi-Fi-defined no-shoot zones for wireless weapons

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FAIL

Show me a way to do geographic denial through compact pure mechanical means, THEN we'll talk.

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Easy. Shoot them.

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I eagerly await the immediate adoption of this by law enforcement agencies.

Wait, what do you mean they aren't interested?

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Yep, that will work...

First step after setting up the WiFi's, get every gun in the US (all legal and illegal) and any crossing illegally modified. Oh, and better hang WiFi's with 100% coverage of every forest.... wouldn't want the hunter's to not be able to shoot.

Second step is to make the WiFi's 100% secure so the arm/disarm codes can't be changed.

Just a few minor sticky issues, like black powder weapons needing the set up. And convincing the criminal element that they need to get their firearms converted.

All in all, it will work about as well as a screen door on a submarine.

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Black Helicopters

Re: Yep, that will work...

Fun to be had for a tech-savvy crim (or terrorist) by inverting the fire/no-fire rules. Imagine the hilarity when every police officer and SWAT team member finds their weapons disabled while the bad guys can spray bullets with impunity.

WTF, America? WTF?

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Re: Yep, that will work...

Oh, there are only about 300 million firearms in the US that need modification. Shouldn't take long to implement. I assume it won't change the value of my 1907 Winchester 94 saddle ring in .38-55, will it?

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Re: Yep, that will work...

Any one got the 3d printer files for a wifi board for my Liberator?

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Re: Yep, that will work...

na,that won't work on my .56 cal. BP hand cannon..... bout as primitive as it gets... true Luddite...

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Facepalm

Any gunsmith (or keen workshop operator) could easily bypass any mechanical interlock. I wonder if some people who 'work' with computers and software have ever touched hardware in their lives. This is aside from the major logictical problem of redesigning guns and retrofitting all existing guns.........

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I'm pretty sure the answer is, "no, some have not."

The reality is, this would require modifying all existing weapons (a gargantuan task, in and of itself), making sure the weapons cannot be "demodified," (yeah, right), making sure noone just machines themselves a new gun (*giggle-snort*), the system has to be completely unhackable (Imagine the plod having their weapons locked out), and (considering that weapons are often for personal defense) it would have to fail to a fireable state (otherwise you're not getting the political backing for it).

There's just no way that can work.

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These can't be DoSed, right?

The regular network transmitters won't be low-power and distributed at sufficient intervals that someone can carry a portable transmitter with them for jamming purposes?

Related: will there be zone leakage? Will an "authorized citizen" get stabbed or gunned down in the alley behind the courthouse because his gun thought it was inside the courthouse?

I think even attempting to make these devices will deliver good advancement in durable electronics.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: These can't be DoSed, right?

Let's leave the gun part of it aside for a moment. This needs both WiFi and Cell to work (if ever). You can add the relevant information to cell broadcast in a mobile network and this will give you out-of-town coverage.

The problem is elsewhere - the gun nut lobby fav argument is that the gun is the means of defending against the big bad argument. This is supposedly, somehow, logical despite the government having drones, cruise missiles, stealth aircraft and being able to take you out on short order anywhere around the globe.

So any system that can give the government the keys to defining how weapons will be used get a "howler monkey troop" response regardless of its feasibility. This one is not feasible anyway as the means to determine "gun zone border" suggested in it are notoriously imprecise.

As far as the "gunsmith can change it" argument, that one is the wrong idea anyway. If an automated system for gun control is to be ever put in place it will have to be from scratch on all weapons and they will have to be manufactured and engineered so it is very difficult to remove. It is not a retrofit option - old guns will have to become illegal. As most of the Eu has proved it is easier to ban guns altogether.

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Re: These can't be DoSed, right?

"The problem is elsewhere - the gun nut lobby fav argument is that the gun is the means of defending against the big bad argument. This is supposedly, somehow, logical despite the government having drones, cruise missiles, stealth aircraft and being able to take you out on short order anywhere around the globe."

It is QUITE logical given the most powerful army in the world couldn't land a decisive blow against the likes of jungle and desert guerillas (see Vietnam and Iraq). Using that as a history, it seems no technology in the world can stand up well against home-field advantage.

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Re: These can't be DoSed, right?

So what happens in a Civil War when both teams theoretically have home field advantage?

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

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Re: These can't be DoSed, right?

"So what happens in a Civil War when both teams theoretically have home field advantage?"

It's just like with sports. Home field differs from skirmish to skirmish, depending on whose ground the battle is taking place. That's why one has to wonder how the Army would storm a town where the people know where and how to hide and ambush. And it's unlikely that the Army would be led by a hometown person since it's likely he or she has family there he/she would want to protect (meaning hometowners are among the most likely to defect).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: These can't be DoSed, right?

Well if one side has guns, and the other has guns, drones, jets and tanks? I know which side i want to be on.

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Re: These can't be DoSed, right?

"Death row for anti-gun nutters. anyone?"

Save for the fact that some of us anti-gun nutter types also own firearms and are highly proficient with them.

I personally own a full dozen, after inheriting my father's firearms and my own combined, with mine being either competition class firearms or regular hunting rifles. His ranged from hunting rifles to Saturday night specials (no clue why, he never carried a concealed firearm in his life).

Every one of those firearms are in safes.

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Re: These can't be DoSed, right?

"Well if one side has guns, and the other has guns, drones, jets and tanks? I know which side i want to be on."

Not to mention AC130 gunships, MLRS, artillery and precision guided bombs...

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Facepalm

Looks like

Someone is desperately searching for something IOT can be used for.

Do you bring the solution or are you part of the problem?

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Coat

Albatross

How will this affect my crossbow?

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Anonymous Coward

Problems

1) Batteries.

2) Antennae.

3) Tin foil.

4) Coverage.

5) Anyone with bad intentions and a screw driver.

6) Millions of existing weapons

If Americans want less people shot in schools and cinemas they need an attitude change, not network connections.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Problems

If Americans want less people shot in schools and cinemas they need an attitude change, not network connections.

Got it in one. This is a classic attempt at (badly) addressing symptoms instead of causes, and won't work for that very reason.

Having said that, I'm positive someone will be able to sell this politically, not because it will work, but because it represents a lot of money to try and get it implemented, which means some people will have their wallets filled with minty fresh tax money. Get it approved, share the loot and off you go. Reminds me a bit of the ID card project in the UK - the NAO review of that was a laugh.

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Re: Problems

"If Americans want less people shot in schools and cinemas they need an attitude change, not network connections."

That's happening. The US homicide rate has been plummeting for 23 years. The peak rate in the US was 24,700 killed in 1991; it was down to 14,200 in 2013. Crimes of most types are now down to levels not seen since the 1950s (if you're talking per capita rates) or the late 1960s (total incidents; note the 50% population growth).

If this FBI monster link doesn't work:

http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2012/crime-in-the-u.s.-2012/tables/1tabledatadecoverviewpdf/table_1_crime_in_the_united_states_by_volume_and_rate_per_100000_inhabitants_1993-2012.xls

Then try this much cleaner but less official website:

http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/uscrime.htm

Interestingly, media coverage of murders has surged inversely with the homicide rate. For example, TV news programs increased murder coverage 700% in the late 1990s even as homicide rates dropped 20%. It gives the US public and world a mistaken impression of crime in the US (aka "mean world syndrome" - worth a Google.) When the media dwells for several weeks on some gruesome event like, say, the Sandyhook shooting, it's hard to see that corresponding crimes have actually dropped. US homicide rates in schools, like in the US at large, are half what they used to be in the early 1990s. (At the time, school deaths tended to be from gangs rather than spree killings.)

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Re: Problems

The inverse relationship between media coverage and commonness is not surprising, I would say it's been well understood for a hundred years:

"When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news." --Alfred Harmsworth

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Re: Problems

"The inverse relationship between media coverage and commonness is not surprising, I would say it's been well understood for a hundred years:"

I was looking at it through the perspective of Gerbner's Mean World Syndrome, but your pithy quote from Harmsworth is more succinct.

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So many obvious issues

Leaving out how people will see this as the government trying to maintain the right to disable their guns whenever they feel like it and would see this as a reason to start the revolution. Hell, if I thought this would have a chance of passing I'd become a gun owner myself, of a pre-wifi gun, and keep it/them even if the government outlawed them. Especially if the government outlawed them.

In order for this to work, obviously it would have to be "gun works normally, except in the presence of a special wifi transmission". If you do it the other way around, if you want to break into someone's house you just cut their power first, thereby knocking out their wifi signal and eliminating their ability to defend themselves!

So if it must be "disable if it sees a special wifi transmission" a bit of aluminum foil in the right place is all a trigger happy killer would need before visiting the nearest school. Or use one of the several hundred million old style guns in the US that would have to be pried from owners' cold dead hands.

Obviously the "boffin" in this article is not deserving of the title. I doubt either is a native of the US, and simply doesn't understand the culture well enough to know why it isn't even worth researching this as the population would never stand for it. Even current non-owners such as myself.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So many obvious issues

I'm not an American- I haven't even visited the place (nor do I have any plans to do so), and I don't have any particular interest in guns beyond what I've read on tech sites.

Even *I* could have told you straight off that- regardless of this system's practicality (it isn't)- it would never get past the gun lobby there. They didn't stand for the "fingerprint-reading" guns, they're sure as hell not going to go for this.

This is a laughably complex and impractical technical attempt to solve a social and political issue.

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Re: So many obvious issues

The result is correct - fingerprint reading guns not tolerated - but your cause is wrong. The outrage wasn't the gun lobby, it was purely grass roots. There is a real misunderstanding regarding the idea of "gun lobby," especially for those outside the US.

Remember that there are in excess of 300 million guns in the US. Some 100-150 million gun owners. 42% homes have guns. Actual stats are uncertain but almost certainly low, since very few parts of the country are allowed - or even desire - to track gun ownership. Even most of the non-gun owners find their sympathies more likely with the gun rights rather than the gun control crowd.

America has always been a heavily armed society and there is not going to be a change while our system of government stands. Since our inception, gun rights are as precious as the right to free speech, religion or privacy. It's not cultural, it's much deeper. It is a part of the fundamental makeup of America.

That equates to a *very* loud voice. It is the loudest grassroots voice in the nation and frankly, it's one of the single loudest grassroots voices in the developed world. While gun owners do lean conservative, it is a group that crosses party lines as well. THAT is the group that controls gun rights organizations like NRA, SAF and NSSF, not the gun manufacturers. In fact, manufacturers have made conciliatory moves toward gun control folks in the past and have had to rapidly back pedal due to the public backlash.

You're final comment I completely agree with. It is laughably impractical. What may be surprising to many, though, is that the people considered to be on the wrong side by rank-and-file Americans (outside a relatively few urban/progressive centers) would be those in favor of gun control. The issue with "gun violence" in America isn't an issue with guns, it's an issue with violence.

I went a bit long, but I've many friends outside the country and they rarely understand the relationship we have with guns over here. While I don't expect to changes anyone's mind on guns, at least it hopefully gives a bit of understanding of one of our "little quirks."

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Facepalm

1. Bring an old gun.

2. Cut power to school, shopping centre, or whatever.

3. Made it ma, top of the world.

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Anonymous Coward

Hack + EMP or Microwave kills that idea fast.

Someone will just manually disable the locking mechanism, then burn the electronics with an E.M.P. inside a Faraday Cage or a short cook inside a Microwave Oven.

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Anonymous Coward

Wrong solution when in fact the problem with guns can be solved easily

Solution to gun control problem is so obvious and in front of everyone that one wonders why there are so many attempts at "fixing" it trying to evade the basic fact that can't be avoided. Here it goes:

Guns: no problem in selling legally licensed weapons to legally licensed owners. Set up a few reasonable conditions to license the weapon itself (sport use, self defense for some criteria) and the owner (over 18, etc), and have both cataloged. Tax both producer and consumer.

If you want to see some parallels, let's see other thorny social problems whose solution has been already implemented and works reasonably well:

Alcohol: no problem in selling legally licensed drinks to legally licensed owners. Set up a few reasonable conditions to license the product and the consumer (over 18, etc) There's some debate as to when/if is necessary to catalog the consumers, because after a considerable amount of time (1000's of years) alcohol consumption has not proved to be too big of a problem. Tax both producer and consumer.

Drugs: no problem in selling legally licensed drugs to legally licensed consumers. Set up a few reasonable conditions to license the drug itself, the seller and the consumer (or abuser). Catalog both. Tax both producer and consumer.

Easy, isn't it? And it has worked very well for alcohol, guns and drugs in countries where it has been implemented. How is that so difficult to see depends on how many layers of ideology/prejudices/economic interests you have to peel off.

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Re: Wrong solution when in fact the problem with guns can be solved easily

Actually, not so easy here in the US. The 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution - our supreme law - essentially defines "reasonable conditions" as being a citizen. One of the reasons gun control advocates here try to "back door" owner databases is that registration/licensure would almost fail legal muster. Taxing the consumer for merely being an owner would fail for similar reasons, as well as being compared to an infringement of rights similar to the attempts at poll taxes from the Jim Crow days.

To do what you suggest would involve amending the Constitution. Not only would the attempt be dead on arrival, but would almost certainly be met with a popular backlash that would reduce or eliminate what gun restrictions do exist. The Left knows this, which is why it has not been tried.

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Re: Wrong solution when in fact the problem with guns can be solved easily

Actually the 2nd amendment was written at a time where the US had no standing army to speak of and was intended to provide for states to raise and train militia. I would suggest that everybody can carry a weapon but that if they do they have to serve in a state militia - at least then they will be trained not to point it at people who aren't bad guys.

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Simple answer: people won't buy 'em

The thumbprint safety and other things are out there too. People haven't bought them either.

Also: How about if you're a woman, walking to your car in the shopping center parking lot, and a rapist jumps you? Gun doesn't work because shopping mall wi-fi. Not only would there be a HUGE lawsuit against the shopping mall, being able to come up with simple scenarios like this is why people won't buy guns with this "feature".

This is why I belong to the NRA even though I don't have a single gun nor do I ever plan to buy one. My membership fees go towards lobbying against this crap, and I can even contribute extra.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Simple answer: people won't buy 'em

"How about if you're a woman, walking to your car in the shopping center parking lot, and a rapist jumps you? Gun doesn't work because shopping mall wi-fi. Not only would there be a HUGE lawsuit against the shopping mall, being able to come up with simple scenarios like this is why people won't buy guns with this "feature"."

and there in lies the problem. even today that gun is useless in defence Man, Women Gun or No, Your stuffed either way because you got jumped. when someone suprises you and has a weapon on you already or restraining you, your holstered\bagged gun isn't much use is it. you would have to have the weapon drawn in your hand to counter any surprise threat like this. How many people in the US walk around weapons drawn checking corners for threats? I haven't been in a while but i'm guessing very few.

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Facepalm

Again...

The focus, as always is on "legal" firearms, which are easier to control..

The bigger picture here is illegal firearms, carried by criminals for criminal intent..

Sure the principle is good, but addressing the symptom never resolves the problem, which in a majority of cases involved the use of illegal weapons.

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Guns don't kill people...

Wifi does :P

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"computers are now reliable enough for cars, medicine and fly-by-wire aircraft"

Really? Assumes facts not in evidence ...

Besides, most civilian gun deaths occur at distances of less than ten yards/meters.

When used (in)correctly, an ax, a claw-hammer, or a largish screwdriver can be lethal at distances in excess of 30 feet (horizontal), which is much further than most (civilian) gun deaths. I throw an ax at logging competitions, and can easily hit a human-sized target at 75 feet; I watched a guy get killed by a claw hammer thrown from 35 feet up in Humboldt County (was an accident, don't ask); and a friend once won a bar bet by sticking 7 of 10 Craftsman brand #41588 screwdrivers into a straw archery butt at 15 yards in under 15 seconds ... with pretty good grouping (#41588s are about two feet long, and nearly a pound in weight). Shall we ban axes, hammers, and screwdrivers?

Tools are tools. Most can be used to kill people.

The problem is wetware, not hardware.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "computers are now reliable enough for cars, medicine and fly-by-wire aircraft"

#664 Competitive Ax(e) Thrower

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Re: "computers are now reliable enough for cars, medicine and fly-by-wire aircraft"

#4,127 Yet another AC child thinking it has a meaning in life.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Anonymous Coward

crappy, impossible and expensive

Even assuming this were a good idea to implement (it isn't), it's entirely impossible to do. Even assuming you could convert something like half a billion US firearms to work with this system, it would still be unworkable.

When the signal is blocked, how do the weapons interpret this failure? Do they assume the guns should be allowed to fire? Do they assume the guns should not be allowed to fire? If they assume "no fire," wouldn't it be possible to bring a jammer to a crime scene to disable the weapons of police officers and bringing in old fashioned guns to shoot back? If they assume "yes fire," won't you be in the situation that disabling the antenna on the firearm or bringing along a jammer creates a shooting allowed zone around the jammer? Turn on the jammer, do a drive-by and then turn it off as you speed away, disabling any retaliatory fire.

Then there is the issue of signal coverage. What if you need to defend yourself in a remote rural area from bandits or even just large dangerous animals? What if you need to apprehend criminals in underground areas like subways or parking lots that don't get a clear signal? What if a criminal flees into the woods and you can't chase him because you don't have a signal? There's lots of areas in the US that have no cell signal, let alone a strong wifi signal with decent bandwidth.

What about rifles? Rifles have effective ranges that are far beyond the range of most wifi transmitters- the location of a sniper may well be in an allowed shooting area even if his target is lounging about in a gun-free zone. Similarly, what about small, parabolic dish antennas or re-broadcasting attacks that let you bring in the codes from outside your current area- ie, relay the authentication from where shooting is allowed to where you actually are- the antenna doesn't know you're focusing the signal from farther away or sending it through a repeater.

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Reasons for US's gun situation

I'll just say, gun owners in the US don't want to have to put batteries in their guns. They do not trust these systems to be fast enough (they imagine getting a quick draw on a criminal, only to have the gun delay firing while it sorts itself out). They assume these systems will fail to "can't fire" and their guns will just be turned into useless scrap metal at some point. And they assume politicians will abuse any gun-control law they are given -- with good reason, because some politicians here do in fact view the constitution and the second ammendment as something to be worked around and flat-out ignored at times. And, indeed, a system that would require all old guns to be scrapped is unconstitutional and would be unworkable besides.

(description of using licenses and so on). "Easy, isn't it? And it has worked very well for alcohol, guns and drugs in countries where it has been implemented." Yes, and this has happened here too. For legal gun sales, gun buyers are licensed (in most states), gun sellers are licensed, the guns all* have serial numbers, and each transaction is recorded. There are gun shows which are like any other travelling sales type situation, but also record transactions. There *are* illegal gun sales, too, but I think you'll find most of these high-profile shootings, the sales were perfectly legal, and the guns taken from a parent's or relatives house.

*All but antiques; no serial numbers, but there just aren't that many of them and, you know, someone's just not going to get that far raising hell when they have to keep stopping to reload their musket.

The biggest problem I've seen are those politicians who think the 2nd ammendment and the Constitution are something to be worked around, then have their unconstitutional restrictions blow up in their faces while giving gun owners yet another reason to not trust these politicians. A recent example, a law got passed requiring background checks before gun purchases -- primarily to prevent mentally ill and unstable people from getting a gun. Great! The gun lobby was a bit suspicious but had to admit there was really no problem with it. The background checks were slow the first few days; but, after that, they took under 30 minutes and were not any real problem. At first. After a matter of weeks or months, some of the politicians who want to work around the Constitution and 2nd ammendment saw how gun show sales dropped those first few days (when the background checks were slow), and decided to tell the background check agency to artificially sit on background check results for 7 days -- stopping gun shows dead in their tracks since they are usually only on site 2 or 3 days. Well, this went to court, and due to the almost immediate abuse of the law, the whole law was found unconstitutional and scrapped.

THIS is the kind of BS that keeps gun owners in the US from trusting any system even if it sounds reasonable on the surface. The gun lobby would imagine politicians putting up killowatt-level transmitters set to "never fire"; and certain politicians themselves would probably decide it's a good idea at some point! (Probably coming up with some sort of logic like "Well, you're still allowed to BUY guns, you're allowed to *bare* arms, just not actually fire them. No problem!")

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It is not even April the first.......

Impossible to dignify this article with a comment - sorry.

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Congratulation on trying to make the guns hack-proof. Now all I need is to carry my own portable transmitter spoofing the correct base-station for the gun.

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Anonymous Coward

Sorry, but NO. This is not what my ancestors came over here in the 1600's to live under. Not just NO, but HELL NO. We are keeping our weapons so we can defend ourselves against the very "Central Authority" they want to give up control to. No. No. NO NO NO NO NO. NEVER EVER EVER.

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Too late

This technology already exists. More important, it's been patented. John McHale from TrackingPoint patented this back in 2012. He's a strong 2nd Amendment advocate and the main objective in the patent is to prevent it from going to the market as a gun control method. Their TrackingPoint targeting system inherently made this technology possible, so they took preemptive action.

If I remember, there was a bit of a scruffle a few month ago. He warned Eric Holder that he'd destroy all his technology and research before he'd let it be used as a means of civilian gun control.

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Re: Too late

It's an interesting tactic. One wonders whether the US government would eventually apply Eminent Domain to intellectual property, the same way they do it to real (estate) property?

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