In Re Holder’s ‘Smart Gun’ Musings

Here’s a bit of sloppy reporting by the Washington Free Beacon that begins with the headline and continues through the story below (emphasis added). Ordinarily I don’t paste entire articles (except for paragraph-by-paragraph deconstructions), but I want to examine the story in context. Please refer to original articles for relevant links therein:

“Holder: We Want to Explore Gun Tracking Bracelets: DOJ requesting $2 million for ‘Gun Safety Technology’ grants.”

Attorney General Eric Holder said on Friday that gun tracking bracelets are something the Justice Department (DOJ) wants to “explore” as part of its gun control efforts.

When discussing gun violence prevention programs within the DOJ, Holder told a House appropriations subcommittee that his agency is looking into technological innovations.

“I think that one of the things that we learned when we were trying to get passed those common sense reforms last year, Vice President Biden and I had a meeting with a group of technology people and we talked about how guns can be made more safe,” he said.

“By making them either through finger print identification, the gun talks to a bracelet or something that you might wear, how guns can be used only by the person who is lawfully in possession of the weapon.”

“It’s those kinds of things that I think we want to try to explore so that we can make sure that people have the ability to enjoy their Second Amendment rights, but at the same time decreasing the misuse of weapons that lead to the kinds of things that we see on a daily basis,” Holder said.

The Justice Department has requested $382.1 million in increased spending for its fiscal year 2014 budget for “gun safety.”

Included in the proposal is $2 million for “Gun Safety Technology” grants, which would award prizes for technologies that are “proven to be reliable and effective.”

President Barack Obama’s budget proposal also calls for $1.1 billion to “protect Americans from gun violence—including $182 million to support the president’s ‘Now is the Time’ gun safety initiative.”

A recent innovation allows a gun owner to only unlock a safe with a fingerprint scan and an “RFID-equipped bracelet.”

Others have suggested manufacturing GPS tracking and RFID chips into every gun. RFID chips transmit location data and are used by law enforcement agencies to send automatic alerts if a weapon moves away from the tracker, indicating that the gun is lost or stolen.

Twitter friend @OhioCoastie alerted me to this contra-narrative from BearingArms.com (emphasis added):

“No, Eric Holder Didn’t Say Anything About “Gun Tracking Bracelets.” As Fast and Furious Proved, DOJ Doesn’t Care About Tracking Guns.”

The Free Beacon is falsely reporting that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder advocated for exploring the use of “gun tracking bracelets” while testifying in front of Congress:

Attorney General Eric Holder said on Friday that gun tracking bracelets are something the Justice Department (DOJ) wants to “explore” as part of its gun control efforts.

When discussing gun violence prevention programs within the DOJ, Holder told a House appropriations subcommittee that his agency is looking into technological innovations.

As much as Holder deserves to be rotting in prison (he’s still in criminal and civil contempt of Congress for continuing to stonewall the House Oversight committee’s request for DOJ internal documentation regarding Operation Fast and Furious, but craven U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen refuses to imprison his boss), Holder simply did not say what the Free Beacon reporter claimed in her article, as the video segment of that conversation and the transcript of it (both below) clearly show.

“I think that one of the things that we learned when we were trying to get passed those common sense reforms last year, Vice President Biden and I had a meeting with a group of technology people and we talked about how guns can be made more safe,” he said.

“By making them either through finger print identification, the gun talks to a bracelet or something that you might wear, how guns can be used only by the person who is lawfully in possession of the weapon.”

At no point during the conversation did Holder mention “gun tracking bracelets.”

He was instead likely referring to “smart gun” technologies like the RFID technology used in the technological train-wreck that is the Armatix iP1 pistol/iW1 watch combination.

I’ve discussed in the past that the Armatix iP1/iW1 combination is a dangerously unreliable, imminently-hackable, seriously under-powered, and prohibitively expensive gimmick.

I’ve also made the argument that imposing an $1,800 pistol/watch combo upon the citizenry by executive mandate or legislation is inherently racist as the equivalent of a poll tax, designed to economically disenfranchise those most likely to live in high-crime-rate neighborhoods, who are disproportionately minorities.

But for all the iP1/iW1 combination’s faults, I’ve seen nothing that hints that it is designed as a tracking device, nor did the Attorney General mentioned anything during the video-taped segment above indicating that he is interested in tracking guns.

If anything, Operation Fast and Furious, Gunwalker, and the various other gun-smuggling plots (up to ten in five cities) of the Department of Justice prove that the Obama Administration has no interest in tracking guns… even after hundreds of civilians and a number of police officers in two nations die as a result.

Point taken that the Washington Free Beacon overstepped by writing that Holder was talking about “exploring” gun-tracking per se. Holder did not explicitly invoke tracking.

But here’s the problem. RFID is a technology whose raison d’être is tracking:

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is the wireless non-contact use of radio-frequency electromagnetic fields to transfer data, for the purposes of automatically identifying and tracking tags attached to objects. The tags contain electronically stored information. Some tags are powered by and read at short ranges (a few meters) via magnetic fields (electromagnetic induction). Others use a local power source such as a battery, or else have no battery but collect energy from the interrogating EM field, and then act as a passive transponder to emit microwaves or UHF radio waves (i.e., electromagnetic radiation at high frequencies). Battery powered tags may operate at hundreds of meters. Unlike a bar code, the tag does not necessarily need to be within line of sight of the reader, and may be embedded in the tracked object.

So it bears noting that, yes, the Washington Free Beacon engaged in sloppy reporting.

But it also bears noting that BearingArms.com engages in some odd logic in discussing a technology (at least in the example given) that is RFID-based, and is “imminently-hackable” in their estimation, but is somehow not a potential tracking technology, in their view.

Can you say Trojan Horse?

And I’ll leave aside the issue of the self-evident idiocy of the stated purpose of the technology, even if perfectly executed and absent any possibility of tracking or hacking.

I’ll stick with analog. But thanks just the same, Mr. Holder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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