A Comic Book Retailer Suggests A New Plan For Gun Control

rfidPaul Stock is a Canadian comic book retailer, running the store Librairie Astro in Montreal. And he has a plan to tackle the thorny issue of gun control in the USA. It is reproduced below. What do you think?

Rachel Maddow is an MSNBC host and political commentator much vilified by right-wing elements of the political spectrum

She was recently interviewed in the "no pictures" issue of Playboy, and in that interview, she hit the nail on the head in explaining why I  hang out  on a  right-wing internet forum when she said

"I'm a liberal but the thing that interests me most in American politics is center-right to far-right  politics because it's …a laugh a minute…"

Well, one thing very dear to the hearts of the right is the Second Amendment, and woe betide anyone who brings up the subject of guns unless it's  announcing "Free Ammo Day" down at Bangin' Birdie's Gunshop.

Stirring the grey matter around a bit, I've  come up with something I think might just mollify the gun nuts and make the streets (or at least schools and institutions)  a bit safer in the future That, and a cure for baldness!  Okay, maybe not baldness;  Gun Control.

TThe idea doesn't eliminate guns,  no registration requirement beyond what's already in place, no turning in or confiscation. In fact, it doesn't  even make them harder to get, but going forward, it should make them safer, by virtue of  exposing them,  and making it harder for a miscreant  to get away with  using them for criminal purposes, at least in public.

I say "going forward" because the idea doesn't touch any weapons in current circulation.: They should gradually  fade away through  wear and attrition.

Simply pass a law   (as if there's such a thing as "simply" passing a law)  that requires all new guns  imported into or sold in the United States to have RFIDs embedded  in their frames.  To work a gun without a frame, you might as well just stick a bullet in a piece of pipe and smack the primer end with a hammer. Not the most efficient way to  commit murder, let alone mass murder..

RFIDs are in pretty common use these days, from  "tagged" merchandise setting off  shoplifting alarms when leaving a drugstore ,  for fast inventory counting,  for  "smart" toll roads and even  to identify stray livestock and pets.

If there's an RFID chip in every gun, and a scanner/reader at every airport, school  or government building entrance,  security can be instantly alerted whenever someone with a gun enters the edifice.

Scanners that detect the things  have become so inexpensive (as low as around $500)  that virtually any enterprise should be able to afford them, and staff  at  ones like banks and gas stations can seal their  wickets immediately upon a  gun entering  the premises. At a gas station, the scanners can be at the pump. No need to wait for entry before tightening up security.  Furthermore, the RFID chips themselves are pretty cheap: Most can be had for under a buck.  Adding  one or two dollars to the base cost of a gun shouldn't bleed out as a significant price jump  on the retail level.   If someone's ready to spend  $00-$1000 on a Glock or AR-15, an extra $10 isn't  too likely to break the bank.

So. There's a chip in every new gun in use.   If a bank or gas station has a scanner at the door,  cashiers can be automatically alerted whenever a gun enters the place, and the cashiers can simply seal  their  wickets, protecting themselves from any harm. Or, if the scanner reads "police weapon"   (they can be  coded to do this),  staff can probably relax a bit,, not just because  they know they're not likely to be held up, but also in knowing there's a professional "good guy with a gun"  on site who can intervene in case someone else causes trouble.

And,  if a  gun is used in  a robbery and  is identified by the chip,  Scanners can be (I understand) quite easily    programmed to respond when that chip  is read by another machine.

Chip # H3H-M1, "wanted" in a holdup at the  ESSO station on the corner of  Oak & Elm Streets twenty minutes ago?   It's by  the Shell gas pumps on the corner of  Birch and Maple right now. Send a patrol car.  This call can be made  to police by an alert employee inside the  gas station, or even better, by  the  scanner itself, via the internet, the same way an interact machine communicates with your bank when you buy a loaf of bread at  a  convenience store.

Any number of  scanners can be programmed to be on the lookout for weapons "wanted" in crimes, and to notify police should they show up.

Similarly, scanners at entrances to schools can notify authorities of any weapons  coming in,  whether "wanted" in crimes or not.  Interior doors can be  electronically locked by an  outside door scanner, preventing   actual entrance. Mind you I doubt that this particular application comes all that cheap. Still, what's the cost of sending a SWAT team even on a  "no problem" mission like there was in San Diego a little while back? If the guy with the gun just turns around at the door and leaves, chances are the situation's  resolved without  any extra attention.  Come to think of it, what's the cost of even several scanners compared to that of just one funeral?

"Entry blocking scanners" wouldn't likely stop attacks likeParis or San Bernardino , because they  took place pretty much outdoors. Mind you,  if random scanners detect a "flow " of several weapons towards a particular  place,  rapid  deployment of an anti-terrorist squad could have prevented (or at least reduced) the bloodshed.

That's presuming the terrorists use local, legal weapons rather than smuggled chip-free ones. Not exactly a safe bet.

Kimveer Gill, who shot up Dawson College (one dead, 15-20 wounded) ,  started his rampage outside, but   couldn't have gotten inside, where he  killed  one student, and  wounded several others. Similarly, Valeri Fabricant couldn't have gotten his guns intoConcordia University (four dead, a handful wounded), nor  Marc Lepine into  Ecole Polytechnique (fourteen dead).   Not with doors that lock at the approach of a firearm.

Neither Lepine, Fabricant, nor Gill were terrorists, with their weapons supplied by  ISIS , Al-Queda, Black September, whatever.  I don't know, but I'm guessing they got their weapons at the same type of sporting goods stores as target shooters and hunters.

A final note on prevention: We're all seen how  cautiously cops approach  cars they've stopped for traffic violations.   That's because they've been too often  been hurt or killed when the driver turned out to be a freak with a gun.  A hand-held scanner would tell the officer if the guy has a gun in his car or not.

I'm wondering if something as simple as wrapping a gun in tinfoil can block RFIDs like a "Faraday cage". I haven't been able to find out (my Google-ability isn't that good), but I'll tell you the tnfoil in my hat does a fine job of stopping those pesky Martian space rays…

It's a shame this isn't an immediate fix, doesn't feature the instant gratification that so much of society has come to demand. It will take a long time to become fully effective, but wouldn't it be nice to know that in twenty years we could go to a community party (or school) without even the slightest likelihood that killers  might get us in their sights?  And wouldn't it be better to know our kids or grandkids might never  even know the  unease that we might sometime feel   attending such things?

Note that that as far as I can tell, RFIDs would in no way infringe on nor impede a citizen (or  "well-regulated militia's") bearing arms, they just point at them. There's no conflict with the US Constitution's Second Amendment (although there  could be a quibble with the "reasonable search" one.  A court could decide that one fairly easily, with no great societal upheaval.  I can't  see how even the NRA could squawk, although they, of course, will.

You know, I'm neither a gun-grabber nor a gun- lover.   I like the things, as I  like a lot of no-frills efficient machinery. In my younger days there was a period when I enjoyed hunting for a little while, and  I've also spent a fair amount of time on target ranges.  I was pretty good with a handgun or shotgun, not so hot with a rifle.

But those days are gone for me. Hell, it won't be that long before all days are gone for me.  Big deal.   Sic vadit.

If you feel this is an idea worth developing, please spread the word- get it to go viral.   Just stick it up on your blog  or Facebook page and forget about it.  I would appreciate a passing mention of having had some input- sort of enhance my  image of being nothing more than an  old crippled commie  curmudgeon.

Physical note: I figure just about any gun frame could easily take a ¼" x  ½" hole drilled in it, with a rice-grain sized RFID dropped in and glued in place.  Prevent the chip from being drilled out by booby-trapping the thing? Maybe the "rice grain" nesting inside a capsule with other contents (like white phosphorus) that explode on contact with heat and air? Some  would-be butcher kills  himself by trying to (criminally)  drill the "serial number" out of his booby-trapped weapon? Tough luck,  Bub.

~Paul

Some people are already ahead of him though – and are not happy.

About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.