Future Technology — Bears Watching

One of the accusations used against gun owners so often is we try to prevent technology from improving ‘gun safety’. Here is one that I believe we should carefully watch because a.) it could be useful if applied in a very limited fashion and b.) the government and the antis often see this type of technology and drool.


Detecting Gunshots Using Wearable Accelerometers

Charles E. Loeffler mail



Gun violence continues to be a staggering and seemingly intractable issue in many communities. The prevalence of gun violence among the sub-population of individuals under court-ordered community supervision provides an opportunity for intervention using remote monitoring technology. Existing monitoring systems rely heavily on location-based monitoring methods, which have incomplete geographic coverage and do not provide information on illegal firearm use. This paper presents the first results demonstrating the feasibility of using wearable inertial sensors to recognize wrist movements and other signals corresponding to firearm usage. Data were collected from accelerometers worn on the wrists of subjects shooting a number of different firearms, conducting routine daily activities, and participating in activities and tasks that could be potentially confused with firearm discharges. A training sample was used to construct a combined detector and classifier for individual gunshots, which achieved a classification accuracy of 99.4 percent when tested against a hold-out sample of observations. These results suggest the feasibility of using inexpensive wearable sensors to detect firearm discharges.


Yep the same technology in your phones, in your exercise equipment is being viewed as a way to ‘reduce ‘gun violence’. The author envisions this being applied to only those ‘under court-ordered community supervision’ but how long until that expands into everyone?

After all, if you don’t have anything to hide then you shouldn’t mind the government knowing if you are shooting guns or not, right?


In related work, researchers have achieved success using wearable accelerometers to detect and classify commonplace human behaviors [11]–[15]. In addition, they have recently demonstrated the potential of wearable accelerometers to detect fall events [16], seizures [17], and concussive head trauma [18] from a continuous stream of movement data.

They might try to sneak it in as part of a public safety/health concern; after all who wouldn’t want a loved one monitored for seizures or concussions. But things like this often go from “hey that is a good idea” to “it is recommended” to “it should be a law” to “We’ll arrest/shoot  you if you don’t comply with the law” in short order. Look at seat belt laws for an example.


The potential use of sensors to monitor firearm use among community-supervised offenders also raises important public policy and civil liberties concerns. These include the selection criteria by which judges or other releasing authorities would place individuals on this form of supervision; whether it would be used on the existing community-supervised offender population or on an otherwise incarcerated offender population; the necessary level of sensor system accuracy before sanctions, such as revocation of release, could be imposed; and the procedures that would be taken to minimize the collection of non-firearm-related wearer information. While none of these issues are peculiar to a wearable gunshot detection system, these longstanding concerns regarding offender monitoring systems should be revisited as monitoring technology evolves.


In conclusion, this study suggests that low-cost and low-energy motion sensors can be used to identify firearm discharges. This development offers criminal justice practitioners a potential alternative that overcomes the low signal-to-noise ratio that has characterized many location-based behavioral monitoring tools [7], [8] and community-wide acoustical gunshot monitoring systems [3]. This development would be more in keeping with the experience of remote monitoring technology for detection of substance abuse [28] and the promise that if reliable and low-noise signals of other illegal conduct can be found, such conduct could be reduced through enhanced detection or deterrence [29], [30].

Some of my concerns are addressed in here. We are being accustomed to people that need such close monitoring being released back into society that this might not be such a huge leap. Of course my personal opinion is simply if they need such close monitoring, we might want to revisit letting them loose in society to begin with.

As technology advances we should really question not just if we should do something but is it good for society. We can implement all sorts of Orwellian surveillance but is it making us better people or improving society to do so?


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