Lets say we have near future, which has both regular guns and energy based stun guns (What would the rules for carry and use of weapons be affected by reliable stun guns?). The government wants ways to regulate and prevent criminal use of these weapons. This need is further driven by the inability to use ballistics to trace stun gun use back to the firing weapon to link the owner of a weapon to a crime; and by the fact that the quieter and less restricted stun guns have proven a very effective way of killing by stunning someone and killing them at leisure in a less public and harder to trace manner.

Being the near future we have access to all our modern technology, and it's cheaper in the future, making installing some of it on regular guns a more viable option financially. Any technology which can reasonable be expected to be created in the next say 75 years may also be available.

I'm wondering what counter measures that are not currently used may be added to minimize illegal use of these weapons. I'm looking mostly at ideas for incorporating features within the weapons that are sold themselves, though other countermeasures which make sense I'm open to.

In particular I'm interested in not only what could exist, but what will, meaning what will the public accept. We could, for example, build in a chip that is suppose to disable a gun entirely if it receives some programmed police disable command, however, I'm not convinced that anyone would be able to pass a law mandating something like this due to gun advocates complaints about the regulation, the odds of it being used by criminals etc etc. I'm wondering what people would actually allow. In fact I feel this question is as much a cultural one then technological, I figure it's resistance from gun advocates that would prevent many options more then technical limitations.

Note, obviously anything built into a weapon could be disabled by criminals, but if you make it hard enough you can still limit the harm then the less tech savvy and harden criminals (aka 95% of criminals) can do, and thus interventions could still be useful.

One idea I had was to add a chip into stun guns, and possible regular ones as well, which recorded at minimum when exactly a gun was fired, and potentially a rough area based off of GPS. A police officer )and only officers with appropriate security keys) who has access to the gun, and perhaps a search warrant, could then download the information to see if this particular gun was fired at the time of a crime to decide if the gun owner is a suspect. I think this option is viable both technologically and unlikely to get as heavy resistance from gun advocates due to the fact that it doesn't prevent the gun use, can only be used by cops, and is less invasive then say, a cop being able to look up when you made calls on your phone, so it hardly lacks precedent. I welcome thoughts on the viability of this option, but I'm looking for other options as well.

I have a slightly higher interest in US for culture, however, I'm looking at a global perspective and not limiting myself exclusively to US. If an option may be viable in other country but would be shot down in the US due to the 2 amendment I'm still interested in it.

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    $\begingroup$ Some reason not allowing soldier to take quarter in a citizen's home would stop a gun law from passing? :) $\endgroup$ – Samuel Nov 12 '15 at 20:39
  • $\begingroup$ @samuel umm..in the near future they changed the order of the bill of rights...yeah... I didn't mention that? :P $\endgroup$ – dsollen Nov 12 '15 at 20:56
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    $\begingroup$ @Dallaylaen however that would mean the government would have to control the distribution of those electronic devices. $\endgroup$ – colmde Nov 13 '15 at 10:21
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    $\begingroup$ @colmde Of course, government would (given my assumptions hold) mandate obligatory wearing of at least one network-enabled device attached to the head, because it cares so much about controlling... err... I mean, protecting citizens! P.S. By "devices" I meant regular cellphones, perhaps with a headset to that a sensitive device is close to the stunning blast. $\endgroup$ – Dallaylaen Nov 13 '15 at 10:31
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    $\begingroup$ @dsollen you said technology likely within 75 years. I think 75 years from now a 3d printed fully functional projectile weapon of some sort is very likely. $\endgroup$ – GrandmasterB Nov 13 '15 at 21:46

Most nations other than the US do not assume that a right to privacy while firing guns overrides public safety interests. Other countries try to strike a balance, and make shooting guns at least as restricted as driving cars.

Automatic 911 Call

Instead of enabling/disabling the stunner, the control chip calls the police whenever it is fired. Perhaps with biometric technology to pass the fingerprints or other data of the user along. The police then matches the firing event with licensed shooting ranges and responds if there is any question (like unreadable fingerprints due to gloves). That implies training on private property is illegal unless the property is certified as a shooting range.

The firing systems are deliberately more fragile than the commo systems, so firing fails first.

Disable and Reset

Use cryptographic systems and GPS to assure that the stunner can only be used for a limited time outside a certified range. The range gets a digital certificiate which includes coordinates and opening hours. When the stunner is fired on the street or in a private home, a countdown starts to shut it down. It will only be enabled after an investigation of the shooting.

  • $\begingroup$ Both good answers. I had thought of the first as a easier version of Balilistic Cryptography idea of CCJ's actually, though I was thinking more e-mail the police, so you can keep more through data of time location etc. I'm not sure investigating every shooting would be practical, but being able to figure out which gun shot at a suspected crime scene could still work. I like disable & reset, particularly the idea of disabling after X hours after a shot, to allow investigation. A simple "I lost it disable it" feature as well already exists today and clearly would be useful for guns. $\endgroup$ – dsollen Nov 13 '15 at 21:04
  • $\begingroup$ @dsollen, the automatic call would be a computer-generated text message, not a voice call. The difference between that and email is a technical detail. "Disable and reset" implies that every use of the stunner must be investigated before it is unlocked again. Coupled with a paper trail for each stunner, that means a criminal could use the stunner once and then he would have to explain how it was lost. $\endgroup$ – o.m. Nov 14 '15 at 7:37

Built-In Biometric Locks

Guns (both energy and ballistic) could be manufactured to function only for a specific set of biometric identifiers, such as fingerprints and genetic markers. Today's biometrics are usually configurable by the end-user, which introduces an exploit vector. If the biometric identifiers of intended users were known at build-time, the weapons would be at least slightly harder to operate for unintended users. This would certainly raise the price of guns, but the price increase might be indirect and delayed enough to allow the legislation mandating built-in biometric locks to pass.

Ballistic Cryptography (Ballisticrypt!)

This would be difficult to add to modern ballistic guns, but energy weapons could be programmed to leave a 'blast trace' of some sort that could be read as a cryptographic signature unique to the firing hardware (other variables, like GPS coordinates and a timestamp, could be encoded in it as well). In addition to making it harder to anonymize a shooting than picking up shell casings, this approach could provide a world of useful forensic data to investigators: guns equipped with camera and microphone modules, for instance, could leave behind context-clarifying images, video, and audio. Cryptographic hashes of the forensic data in the blast trace could help ensure that trace data was not tampered with or manufactured after the fact. Given that privacy concerns usually don't extend so far as being able to shoot people without authorities meddling in one's business, this approach might be acceptable even to gun/privacy advocates.

Artificial Scarcity of Ammunition

Regulatory authorities could put a strangle-hold on the production of ammunition and/or the propellant chemicals and other component materials that are required to make ammunition useful. If ammunition became prohibitively difficult to obtain without going through official channels first, it might (eventually and theoretically) be more difficult for illegal gun use to occur. This approach has the advantage of making extant illegally-owned and operated guns effectively useless (after the current supplies of ammunition are exhausted, that is). If the process of obtaining ammo legitimately through official channels, with license checks etc., could be made seamless, this approach might prove acceptable to many gun advocates.

...combined with...

Natural Self-Destruction

Remember hard-drive disks? The platters inside HDDs are so sensitive that they cannot be exposed to the open air; dust particles are sufficient to ruin them forever. This wasn't intentional, but it certainly did make tampering with their internals a more difficult chore. If the hardware controlling the mechanisms above could be isolated in a compartment of the weapon that, if opened outside a clean room (or perhaps outside a vacuum), would make the entire weapon permanently non-functional, hacking it to work for unintended users would be harder still. Not bullet-proof, but tougher than filing off a serial number.


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