Electromagnetic Pulses and Smart Guns

At its worst the blogosphere leads to increased polarization between left and right with a tendency for each side to be pulled more to the extremes. At its best it has the potential to provide exposure to other ideas and present potential problems with one’s views which might be considered, along with sometimes going beyond the basic political disputes of the day. Eugene Volokh presents an example of the latter.

I’ve been intrigued by the idea of smart guns as a means of satisfying both the left and right on gun control. If the technology could actually be worked out, smart guns would allow only the owner of a gun to use them, potentially solving many of the objections to gun ownership commonly heard from opponents of guns ownership.

While this is certainly not a matter which is as urgent to today’s issues as many other topics under discussion in the blogoshere today, it is often interesting to hear such ideas on topics which might be more pertinent in the future. Volokh comes up with a potential problem with smart guns which I had never considered. He speculates that an electromagnetic pulse used in a terrorist attack might make smart guns inoperative. Such a terrorist attack would be precisely the time when individual ownership of guns might be most justifiable for personal self-defense.

This problem is potentially solvable such as by having smart guns revert to normal guns when the components which identify the user is inoperable, but this is a question which might be considered in any discussion of mandating the use of smart guns. Incidentally, getting back to the idea of using the blogosphere to transcend left/right divisions rather than amplifying them, I must also say that the rebuttal written by Matthew Yglesias to an earlier post on this topic is nonsensical and I agree with Volokh’s responses.

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