eigenvalue 11 days ago

I don't own a gun (I've never even shot a gun before), but I came across this video on YouTube and I'm really impressed with how thoughtfully this BioFire gun was designed. If I did ever purchase a gun, I think for sure I'd insist on something like this, since the main risk seems to be your kids finding it or an attacker overpowering you and shooting you with your own gun, both of which would be prevented by this. Also you don't have to worry about someone stealing the gun and committing crimes with it (maybe it can be hacked, but probably not by the typical home invader!). Anyway, thought I'd share it with HN.

  • giantg2 11 days ago

    "since the main risk seems to be your kids finding it"

    Not an issue if you're storing it properly. Even if you have biometrics it should still be stored properly to prevent theft.

    "or an attacker overpowering you and shooting you with your own gun"

    Gear is no replacement for training. Even if they can't shoot you with it, you have much larger problems if they can overpower and disarm you. It won't stop them from bludgeoning you to death with, etc.

    "Also you don't have to worry about someone stealing the gun and committing crimes with it (maybe it can be hacked, but probably not by the typical home invader!)."

    That's not really how criminal systems work. Usually your common criminals are selling the stuff they steal on the black market. You have specialized shops (organized crime) who buy stuff like this (guns, phones, computers, etc) and can hack it and resell it.

    It's an interesting concept, but it will likely take a lot of testing. "Well-designed" is a matter of opinion, and not everyone shares that view.

    • ohgodplsno 11 days ago

      >It won't stop them from bludgeoning you to death with, etc.

      Fun fact: you only get bludgeoned to death _because_ you own guns. In most of the civilized world, people do not get assaulted in their own home by thieves. Thieves see that you're awake, run away because handling the police is more trouble than it's worth, done.

      • thesuperbigfrog 11 days ago

        >> Fun fact: you only get bludgeoned to death _because_ you own guns. In most of the civilized world, people do not get assaulted in their own home by thieves. Thieves see that you're awake, run away because handling the police is more trouble than it's worth, done.

        Citations needed.

        What distinguishes how intruders will react? When intruders are in your home, how do you know it is burglary versus home invasion, sexual assualt, kidnapping, etc. ?

        >> In most of the civilized world, people do not get assaulted in their own home by thieves.

        What defines "the civilized world"?

        In many parts of South America and Central America criminals will kill victims and witnesses so that no one will be able to identify them or testify against them. How do you know what intruders will or will not do?

        >> Thieves see that you're awake, run away because handling the police is more trouble than it's worth, done.

        Depends on the intruders (how do you know they are thieves?), depends on the police, depends on the speed of police response.

        If the intruders can stop you from calling the police and you are not a significant threat, why would they run away?

        • ohgodplsno 11 days ago


          • thesuperbigfrog 11 days ago

            >> the likelihood of being shot is much higher than in countries where guns are unavailable

            Sounds like inner-city Chicago.

            There are many places where crime is bad and police response is poor. In some places the police can be more dangerous than the criminals.

            Should people who live in such places be able to defend themselves?

            >> Can you make yourselves believable for once? You live in bumfuck nowhere Texas where you'll never have a single home invasion in your life and have access to police intervention pretty much anywhere in the country. You're not in Oaxaca risking your life against narcos every day. And if you did, by god you do not want to have weapons because they will know and they will definitely murder you.

            This kind of response probably violates the HN guidelines: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

            Do you really presume to know someone else's lived experiences or intend to cast others into a stereotype?

            >> I could give you dozens of studies that show that societies where guns are easy to access have both a higher rate of violence and higher degree of violence

            Please share these studies.

            • tptacek 11 days ago

              What do you think "inner city Chicago" is, and what do you think it's like to be there?

              Just flag comments that violate the guidelines.

      • harimau777 11 days ago

        You are saying that a greater risk of being shot during a home invasion makes a thief more likely to break in? That doesn't make sense.

        • roundandround 11 days ago

          No he's saying they are more likely to bludgeon you because you may have a gun and shoot them before they can run away.

    • roundandround 11 days ago

      Kids are a constant presence in your house, bullet after bullet and stomach pump after stomach pump confirms that that's an entirely different threat model than a safe can handle.

  • necovek 11 days ago

    If guns like these were pervasive, a typical home invader would likely know who they can flip it to, who would know how to hack it.

    And soon enough, even your kids would learn how to hack it (if not before: kids really like figuring out stuff they are not supposed to do!).

    I don't own a gun either (though I shot one in a shooting range twice), but if I was ever worried I'd need to defend myself with guns, I'd probably stockpile on live rounds instead of guns: in a case where people would need to rise to arms, I figure rounds will quickly become more valuable and could be easily exchanged for a gun with someone without any rounds.

    • egberts1 11 days ago

      Your average home invader is not going to do the necessary preparation especially if they are addicted to O.P.M. (other people's money).

      • necovek 11 days ago

        Selling it after the fact does not really require any preparation: I guess you meant they won't come prepared to hack it, which I agree with.

        If biometric-auth guns were pervasive yet hackable, petty criminals will likely have a way to easily sell them off to someone better equipped to hack them. I was mostly countering whether biometric auth would stop them feom being used for crimes after getting stolen.

    • madeofpalk 11 days ago

      > And soon enough, even your kids would learn how to hack it

      How would a kid get the firearm? Are firearm owners/parents elsewhere so irresponsible that they leave firearms lying around unsecured?

      • ethanbond 11 days ago

        That’s the whole value prop of this gun: you can leave it outside of a safe. Otherwise you have both a safe (definitely secure + reliable) and a second, certainly more finicky safety device within the safe, which doesn’t really improve anything except your odds of losing whatever is about to happen.

        Insane proposition IMO.

  • BrotherBisquick 11 days ago

    > an attacker overpowering you and shooting you with your own gun

    I know you're not arguing otherwise, but this never happens, and it's one of those annoying arguments that anti-gun people use to justify banning and confiscation.

  • thatguy27 11 days ago

    Once they've overpowered you, they could just smash in your skull with your gun, or with a brick.

    • matthewfcarlson 11 days ago

      I’ve often thought the best home defense weapon is a baseball bat with a flashlight taped to the eye. Quick shine in the eye and wham.

rgoulter 11 days ago

Worth reading, from the description:

"""Biofire is a Colorado company that has spent the last 5 years or so developing a biometrically authenticated pistol, using both fingerprint and facial recognition systems. The gun is currently in the prototype/pre-production phase, and they are planning to have production models available around the end of the year.

Obviously, there is a wide skepticism about this sort of technology in firearms, and I shared this skepticism when I first spoke with Biofire. The situations in which biometric ID systems could become a liability seem too numerous to count. What convinced me to give the pistol a closer look was Biofire's explicit focus on a particular target market where the technology fills a very real gap in current options: home defense for those with children or other people regularly in the household. For that situation, one must choose between an array of flawed options - trigger locks, rapid access (hopefully) safes, or keeping a gun separated from its ammunition. The idea of having a gun which can be left loaded and immediately accessible but only usable by a few specific individuals is an appealing one."""

kneebonian 11 days ago

"smart" = complicated electronics likely to fail

  • rzzzt 11 days ago

    That's CELTF, you will need a different selection of words to complete the backronym.

    • reuben364 11 days ago

      Stupidly Malfunctioning At cRitical Times. Needs some workshopping.

      • rzzzt 10 days ago

        I'll take it!

  • lambic 11 days ago

    Maybe think about what other lethal weapons already contain complicated electronics.

    • harimau777 11 days ago

      When it comes to personal weapons comparable to a hand-gun there's not much in the way of complicated electronics. The most that I can think of would be TASERs and holographic sites; neither of which are particularly complicated.

      • lambic 11 days ago

        A car?

        • harimau777 9 days ago

          Cars aren't generally used as personal weapons. Their size, cost, and the difficulty deploying them rapidly (think of how long it takes to accelerate from stop compared to drawing a gun) makes them a poor fit for that roll.

          • lambic 8 days ago

            Not sure if you're being deliberately obtuse or not, but here's my comparison:

            "Complicated electronics" on a car are designed (usually) to make it safer. If those complicated electronics go wrong, it can cause injury or death.

            "Complicated electronics" on this gun are designed to make it safer. If those complicated electronics go wrong, it can cause injury or death.

            So if you won't use a gun because it has "complicated electronics" you shouldn't drive a modern car either.

cykros 10 days ago

No applause until it electrocutes someone trying to shoot it who isn't authorized, a la Judge Dredd.

Also, given my experience with fingerprint scanners on phones, where I'm not nearly as insistent that it actually do what I tell it to, WHEN I tell it to, this really doesn't seem like something that is likely ever to be particularly well done.

Seems the goal is "not shooting for other people," and if it happens to "shoot for the person its supposed to," icing on the cake.

randombits0 11 days ago

Firearms enthusiasts will reject this with a strong passion.

  • nataz 11 days ago

    Ian from Forgotten Weapons is arguably one of the most famous gun enthusiasts out there, and it's his video that is linked in this thread. The very fact that "gun Jesus" is excited about this platform says a lot.

    He does note that a small portion of the gun enthusiasts population will hate it, but goes on to note why he thinks their fears are misplaced.

    Also, its been stated a few times in this thread, but this platform isn't trying to be a gun for all things. Specifically it's a bedside gun, that stays loaded and out, that mitigates some of the risk of leaving it in that condition (kids, theft, etc.). It's competition is trigger locks, safes, lock boxes, and just hiding it somewhere.

    I'm unconvinced the electronics are appropriately tamper proof, and will remain unconvinced until some real experts get their hands on it. Ian mentions that as well, and is looking forward to a real security audit by experts in that field.

    All on all, seemed like a pretty reasonable take on everything.

    • harimau777 11 days ago

      My concern is that laws would be put in place to force people to use smart guns outside of home defense situations.

      There's also the concern that smart guns could be prohibitively expensive compared to regular guns for many people; especially if they already own a gun for concealed carry.

  • oconnore 11 days ago

    Anyone that has ever tried to use a fingerprint reader with greasy hands under time pressure will reject this.

    • marcinzm 11 days ago

      As the video explains the use case for this is a by the bed gun for home defense at night. So greasy hands are less likely. It also has facial recognition as a secondary authentication source.

      • ethanbond 11 days ago

        I mean I’ve had FaceID and TouchID each fail to work more than zero times, even and especially in early morning. And there’s no way I’d trust this tech enough to forego a safe if I had children around anyway.

        • marcinzm 11 days ago

          Which I feel is a perfectly valid argument against it and I would definitely not trust some random small company to not have bugs in their code. I'm not defending the gun but simply pointing out that if you are going to voice concerns then actually look into what the thing is first.

        • cykros 10 days ago

          Indeed. Even if they can't pull the trigger, there's plenty of stimuli that will result in a bullet being fired other than a trigger being pulled. Playing "microwave the gun" wouldn't likely end well.

      • AlecSchueler 11 days ago

        Wouldn't the safest thing to be not having firearms in the home?

        • lelanthran 11 days ago

          Maybe. It's all a trade-off.

          Residential homes with swimming pools have a higher mortality for children than residential homes with guns, and yet there does not exist the same sort of large scale highly funded push to ban residential swimming pools.

          I mean, if the primary area of concern was safety, you'd save more children by banning swimming pools.

          • AlecSchueler 11 days ago

            Isn't that a false dichotomy and a strawman?

            • lelanthran 11 days ago

              > Isn't that a false dichotomy and a strawman?

              I don't see how.

              There's no dichotomy that I am aware of; when responding to a "safety" argument, demonstrating the relative safety compared to activities considered "safe" is not a dichotomy.

              I also don't see a strawman - I'm making no argument, which is a requirement for making a strawman argument. If I don't make an argument, I can't be attacking a strawman.

              • AlecSchueler 11 days ago

                It felt like you were arguing the people aren't worried about the safety of swimming pools around children or that we should leave aside the worry about firearms in favour of worrying about swimming pools.

                But in a discussion about swimming pool safety mechanisms I'm sure we would also see people giving their views on what they consider reasonable precaution for themselves.

                We can worry about both things and give them both time is what I'm saying.

                • lelanthran 10 days ago

                  > But in a discussion about swimming pool safety mechanisms I'm sure we would also see people giving their views on what they consider reasonable precaution for themselves.

                  I've never seen a call to ban pools based on the mortality rate of children.

                  > We can worry about both things and give them both time is what I'm saying.

                  We can but we don't. We only see safety used as an argument for banning firearms, not as an argument for banning pools.

                  Now, I'm not making any argument one way or another regarding banning of firearms, what I am doing, and what I started this thread with, was to point out that everything is a trade-off.

                  We trade higher deaths for swimming pools that serve no purpose other than recreation. Trading fewer deaths for something that has non-recreational utility is not logically sound or consistent.

                  IOW, it only makes sense to someone already emotionall married to their argument.

                  • AlecSchueler 10 days ago

                    Ah, then you'd have to consider the huge emotional difference between a gun death and a swimming accident.

                    It's not only the deaths we want to avoid but also the trauma.

        • marcinzm 11 days ago

          Depends on the risk of "bad thing happening due to gun" vs "bad thing happening due to someone breaking into your house while you're there." Which in turn depends on where you live, the local crime rate statistics and possibly the response time of the local police department. I suspect the math does not favor guns as often as some people think it does but there probably are times it does favor guns.

        • thatswrong0 11 days ago

          Statistically yes. But I can imagine the risk/benefit calculation becomes a bit murkier if you live somewhere rural where you’re effectively “on your own” when it comes to police response time.

          • AlecSchueler 11 days ago

            Fair enough. It's scary to imagine from my perspective in the Netherlands and I can see how the fear could be a driving factor when anyone around me can also buy a gun.

            • marcinzm 11 days ago

              The Netherlands has a population density of 508/km2. Wyoming has one of 2/km2. Texas almost reaches 50/km2. That type of isolation is a fundamentally different way of living.

              • AlecSchueler 10 days ago

                Yeah, that kind of isolation is scary to imagine from over here, but I can see how that fear could become a strong driving factor in behavioural change.

  • marcinzm 11 days ago

    The video explains that it's designed for a very specific use case: quick access by the bed home defense when you have other people in the house you don't want using the gun (kids, etc.). The alternatives to this also have failure scenarios it seems so it's not a "regular gun vs smart gun" but "regular gun in a quick access safe vs smart gun" or "regular gun with a trigger lock versus smart gun."

  • madeofpalk 11 days ago

    To be honest, I would also presume most firearm un-enthusiasts would be pretty unsatisified by this also.

  • refulgentis 11 days ago


    • ethanbond 11 days ago

      Because it’s another thing that can malfunction at the single worst possible moment for a thing to malfunction.

      I’m not even an enthusiast and I would never ever ever buy one of these as a self-defense firearm. It just doesn’t make any sense in terms of the risk you’re trying to mitigate by buying a gun.

      • spicybright 11 days ago

        Definitely, it's one of those technologies that needs to be dumb and reliable because of how life and death it's use is.

        Like if you need to use your gun, you probably need to in a hurry. What if you have grease or dirt on your hands when you need to scan your finger?

        There's already bio-metric safes if one wants it, and you're almost always going to need a gun safe anyways if you own a firearm.

        • StrangeATractor 11 days ago

          > Definitely, it's one of those technologies that needs to be dumb and reliable because of how life and death it's use is.

          This is why a lot of people still use revolvers instead of automatics. Doesn't get much simpler.

        • KennyBlanken 11 days ago

          The most common uses of a gun in the a US home is suicide, or death by negligent discharge by a child (I use the term negligent discharge because it's the adult's responsibility to secure the gun.)

          "Homeowner stops break-in" is exceedingly rare as to be statistically insignificant, and it really needs to stop being cited by everyone as a reason for everything from permissive gun legislation to arguments against technologies like this.

          • harimau777 11 days ago

            The statistics on "homeowner stops break-in" aren't as cut and dry as we might think. As I understand it, the studies that gun control activists cite tend to only count "gun used for self defense" if it was actually fired. However, the much more common scenario is that the defender draws a gun and the criminal flees. To me that definitely counts as "homeowner stops break-in".

          • lelanthran 11 days ago

            > Homeowner stops break-in" is exceedingly rare as to be statistically insignificant

            Incorrect. You have any stats to back that up?

      • unshavedyak 11 days ago

        I would imagine it depends on what you're concerned about too. If you're using it for self defense but also have children you need to lock away the gun for, this might be attractive compared to a slow to access safe.

        • ethanbond 11 days ago

          Totally depends on what you’re concerned about, but even in that scenario the solution is to get a faster safe.

          Like even in that scenario, you would still not want your child encountering the gun at all for fear of the other kind of malfunction (accidental “approval”), as well as child endangerment, as well as “gun == safe” association, etc etc.

          So it will still have to be in a safe, and it will still have to be one you think is secure, so the biometric component is strictly more time & more points of failure.

          • unshavedyak 11 days ago

            Agreed, though arguably we're talking about the same mechanisms for failure but behind one layer of safety.. or .. something, not sure how to word it.

            Ie lets say the biometrics fail. Well if i want a safe with fast access, maybe i have biometrics on that and it also fails. A child looking for a gun has it in both scenarios, but there is a slight delay between auth failure and weapon access.

            It's just a difficult slope of competing priorities. On one hand you want fast access. On the otherhand you want fail-proof child-proof safety. It's really difficult to get both, no matter what the solution.

            I'm kinda glad i'm not having kids because i can imagine this is not a fun decision to make. I don't envy those who have to make it.

            • ethanbond 11 days ago

              It’s really not that hard. You get a safe that’s designed for fast access and you don’t tell anyone else the code. You shouldn’t need and shouldn’t want additional layers of security or procedure etc.

    • TheFreim 11 days ago

      One would be that this is an added point of failure on a tool which REALLY needs to be consistent when you need it. Conventional "safety"* mechanisms are already often avoided for certain use cases because they add another element of complexity which needs to be factored in.

      *safety is in quotes because certain mechanisms don't necessarily improve safety assuming proper handling. A holstered gun without a safety catch or grip safety isn't really any more dangerous. If you operate under the idea that you are only going to draw a gun if you need it to defend yourself from a deadly threat then the "safety" is redundant and makes it more likely you will make a mistake.

    • Turing_Machine 11 days ago

      Let's remove guns from the equation.

      Think of something else that might save your life, say, an epi-pen when you're deathly allergic to something. Now, you obviously don't want your kids fooling around with it, possibly accidentally injecting themselves and coming to harm.

      Some company builds a complicated piece of technology using "biometric scans" that requires a fully-charged battery in order to work at all. Are you going to buy one of these when you're basically going to die if you can't get to the epi-pen in a hurry, just gambling that you'll never forget to charge the battery, and never need it when your fingers and/or the sensor have schmutz on them?

      No. You aren't.

    • billfor 11 days ago

      Like the battery runs out when you need it. It uses both fingerprint and facial recognition to arm. Also did you watch the video. Look at the size of it. Its enormous.

      Also a minor nit: The gun apparently uses an enrollment APP ! Like I want to be dependent on Google or Apple to let me download an app to enable my gun. Are you kidding?

      • lelanthran 11 days ago

        I'm with you on the app thing, but I'm struggling with the same question myself for a tiny little device I want to make.

        How does the owner set it up (in my case, it's not a gun) without a nice user interface on the device?

        Adding a UI quadruples the BOM cost and doubles the assembly cost.

        Using the existing WiFi or BT module on chip and providing an app on phone to set it up, reconfigure, etc seems like the cheapest option with the most customer satisfaction.

        A tiny crippled UI on the device is high friction for the user and removes all ability to provide orchestration for all the devices the user purchased from you.

        What would you suggest?

    • ceejayoz 11 days ago

      Because as soon as they become available commercially, some states have laws that come into effect.


      > Basically, the Childproof Handgun Law of 2002 says that once "personalized handguns are available" anywhere in the country, all handguns sold in New Jersey must be smart guns within 30 months.

      • marcinzm 11 days ago

        As the video explains this law is not on the books anymore.

        • ceejayoz 11 days ago

          Others are. https://www.reuters.com/technology/exclusive-smart-guns-fina...

          > Guns coming to market could trigger a 2019 New Jersey law requiring all gun shops in the state to offer smart guns after they become available. The 2019 law replaced a 2002 law that would have banned the sale of any handgun except smart guns.

          The mere threat of such legislation is enough, too. NJ - and other states - could easily make stricter regs after.

      • coryrc 11 days ago

        Which conveniently exempted state enforcers.

        • ceejayoz 11 days ago

          I mean, sure. As do laws against breaching doors with explosives, shooting people in the head, and using automatic weaponry.

          • coryrc 10 days ago

            All those things are legal for non-police to do in many circumstances.

    • peepeepoopoo7 11 days ago


      • ethanbond 11 days ago


        It’s closer to the same reason that most people would prefer not to have a car airbag that checks driver != thief in the milliseconds between impact and deployment.

    • ourmandave 11 days ago

      I think some gun owners with children would want this as a safety measure.

      People who hate on it probably don't want to pay extra for something that could slow them down in a firefight while they're at church, theater, mall, school, bar, or college.

      Plus unsecured gun charges happen rare to never in the U.S., so whatev, right?

    • KennyBlanken 11 days ago

      Because gun owners fetishize home defense, aka the "you wake up to smashed glass in the middle of the night" scenario, confronting an armed murderer/robber/rapist/child snatcher. The sort of staple of lifetime channel shows, 80's-90's movies, etc. And thus, anything that they think might prevent them from getting to a gun, or using it, is automatically off the table, and you also see "slippery slope" arguments: ie a smartgun is now available so _________ is going to take away everyone's non-smart guns, etc.

      "homeowner stops baddie in their home" is incredibly rare and almost never happens.

      What does happen, however, is: homeowner commits suicide with their gun, or homeowner's children shoot themselves or a friend. Having a gun in the home is associated with a significantly higher suicide rate.

      The facts don't bear out the necessity of protecting oneself against late-night home invasions.

      Burglars prefer mid-day because there's less chance of finding someone home and penalties are lower; in many states a nighttime break-in pushes the seriousness of the charge up quite a bit, as does breaking into an occupied home.

      Burglary rates have plunged over the last couple of decades, 75% since the 80's. The country-wide rate is 440 per 100,000 people, or a rate of 0.4% per person per year. The rate has little to do with gun laws or ownership rates; the rates are highest in southern states, lowest in northeast states like MA and NH. It's a function of poverty rates and how desperate people are, not how easy it is to own a gun.

      What discourages home invasions: Locked doors/windows, landscaping that doesn't hide people while they're attempting to break in, motion lights, security cameras...and having government services that help people in poverty.

      • harimau777 11 days ago

        A night time break-in isn't the only scenario where someone might need to defend themselves.

      • kallistisoft 11 days ago

        I don't know who is down-voting the above post, but it is 100% correct.

        People have bought into the 'self-defense' mythology of gun ownership and it is just that -- a mythology.

        The sad fact is that in the United States, the number one use of guns is for suicide (54%), followed by killing/being killed by someone you know. The whole self-defense/good-guy-with-a-gun scenario is rare, which is why it makes the news when it happens.

        I grew up in a somewhat violent area, gunshots were a regular occurrence, and I still maintain that I would rather live my life free of fear than go to bed every night with last thing in my mind being the idea of taking someones life

HonestOp001 10 days ago

Please let us remember the biometric scanner on the laptops. I cut my finger and the laptop became inaccessible. No way.

BiteCode_dev 10 days ago

A gun that can run out of battery. Does it it need to update its firmware too ?

WirelessGigabit 10 days ago

Stallone in Judge Dredd: "Grenade"

Lawgiver: "Grenade"

rishabhd 11 days ago

Well, Kojima called it in MGS4.