How A New Gun Could Make Anyone A Sharpshooter

(Credit: NPR)

A gun that went on the market on Wednesday could transform anyone into the deadliest of snipers, even if they’ve barely shot a gun before obtaining this new rifle. NPR reported on the weapon in question:

“It’s called the TrackingPoint rifle. On a firing range just outside Austin in the city of Liberty Hill, a novice shooter holds one and takes aim at a target 500 yards away. Normally it takes years of practice to hit something at that distance. But this shooter nails it on the first try.

The rifle’s scope features a sophisticated color graphics display. The shooter locks a laser on the target by pushing a small button by the trigger. It’s like a video game. But here’s where it’s different: You pull the trigger but the gun decides when to shoot. It fires only when the weapon has been pointed in exactly the right place, taking into account dozens of variables, including wind, shake and distance to the target.

The gun was developed by a Texas startup who likes to call it a “smart gun” and also features a wifi server and variety of automatic social media sharing options so hunters can brag about their prowess online. But the ability to lock on to targets from long distances is a dramatic departure from how sharp shooting has functioned in the past, when the ability to snipe targetes was largely limited by how few individuals had that skill set — be they serious hunters or military grade snipers.

The high cost of the rifle, which currently retails for over $20,000, will no doubt provide a limiting factor for the moment, plus ballistic forensics techniques mean that just because more people can make the shot doesn’t mean they will necessarily get away with murder. And it’s possible that if used responsibly by hunters, it could result in fewer accidental hunting deaths. But the fact remains that auto-aiming technology has the potential to make it significantly easier for bad actors to take out targets with a firearm at significantly less personal risk due to the distance between themselves and their victims.

Such a gun almost certainly could be banned, even under conservative Justice Antonin Scalia’s expansive reading of the Second Amendment. While Scalia’s opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller disallowed handgun bans, it specifically noted “dangerous and unusual” weapons are not protected by the Constitution. Numerous federal circuit courts have upheld machine gun bans on similar grounds.