Smart guns for dumb people won't really work that well

Most Americans, even NRA Americans, will probably agree that way too many Americans are being shot to death these days.

From the bumper stickers I've read, the debate really isn't about the number of Americans being shot, but rather the source of the shooting.

One side says dumb guns are to blame and that if we made them smarter fewer Americans would be shot. Those are the ones with bumper stickers that read, "Imagine World Peace."

The other side says guns are smart enough already and it's the dumb Americans we need to make smarter. Those are the ones with bumper stickers that read, "Imagine Whirled Peas."

Now I'm not a card-carrying NRA member, or anything like that. Although I just loved Charlton Heston in the Planet of the Apes movie.

Nor could I be considered one of those card-carrying communist flaming pinkos the NRA side says is responsible for trying to take away their Contitutionally-Guaranteed-Right-To-Bear-Arms. Or even to Arm Bears.

I don't keep a gun in the house because I'm not very smart and I wouldn't want my kids grabbing it if I left it in the refrigerator, or out in the yard next to the hose. I'm always losing stuff like my eyeglasses, television remote control and car keys.

"Hey, kids. Have you seen Dad's .45 caliber lying around anywhere?" I'd have to ask every five minutes.

I read last week that some gun makers have agreed to make smarter guns. Some suggested those smart guns would need to be voice activated in order to fire. Others say they should have combination locks of some sort. Still others recommend they should be made to shoot only if the finger on the trigger matches the fingerprint programmed inside the gun.

All of that sounds well and good until a bad guy breaks into your home at 3 a.m. Then the smart gun could turn out to be a very dumb idea.

I don't know about you, but by 3 a.m. I've already drooled over most of my pillow. I'm dreaming of some tropical paradise far, far, away where I'm sipping coconut juice while the ocean breeze blows through my full head of hair.

The bad guy creeping down my hallway, on the other hand, is wide awake and thinking very bad things as he tiptoes closer and closer to my bedroom.

For the sake of argument, let's say the bad guy gets the drop on me and we end up wrestling on the floor where I am most certainly on the short end of the can of Whupass.

I scream for my wife to get my smart gun but she can't fire it because it's voice or fingerprint activated to my voice or fingerprint.

"Shoot the bastard!" I'm screaming to her, as the bad guy pummels my head with his dumb gun.

"I can't!" she shouts, waving the smart gun in frustration. "It's programmed to your voice!"

"Okay!" I yell. "Bring it closer to my mouth and I'll tell it to fire, or something."

The bad guy realizes my dilemma and cuts my tongue out, ensuring that my smart gun will need to be reprogrammed for a lispier voice sometime down the road when it's too late for the Ackerman clan.

It's kind of like those safety caps they put on some medicines. You know ... the ones where you have to twist until the arrows match and then use your thumbs to pop open. Your head is pounding so bad you can't open your eyes wide enough to match the arrows so you crumble to the bathroom floor and simply whimper until morning.

Imagine you're having a heart attack and you yell for your 4-year-old to grab your heart pills. He hasn't yet learned the matching arrow trick and the last thing you see on earth is his cute little face as he turns the cap in frustration.

"Sorry, Pop."

On the other hand, there's no better equalizer than a dumb-but-very-effective-12-gauge-pump-action-shotgun.

They make a very distinct sound when you pump one into the chamber. Most bad guys, even dumb ones, know what that sound is and would probably tip-toe back out the door very quickly if they heard that sound coming from your bedroom at 3 a.m.

You don't even need to really be fully awake to be effective. Just point that thing in the general direction of your bedroom door and most everything within a mile or two radius will be blown off the map. Heck. You could even shoot the sucker from that tropical beach without spilling a drop of coconut juice.

The solution, then, is very simple. Let the bad guys keep their dumb hand guns. All the rest of us really need are dumb shotguns.

The alternative is to make Americans smarter, which just isn't going to happen. Some 23 percent of all Americans absolutely refuse to be smart, according to a recent Appeal poll. That's why we have the WWF.

In the end, if dumb guns are outlawed, only dummies will have dumb guns. Or something like that.

Jeff Ackerman is publisher and editor of the Nevada Appeal.


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