The Ethical Issues with ‘The Gun that Aims Itself’


“Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people’s liberty, teeth and keystone under independence. The church, the plow, the prairie wagon and citizens’ firearms are indelibly related. From the hour the pilgrims landed to the present day, events, occurrences and tendencies prove that, to ensure peace, security and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable. Every corner of this land knows firearms, and more than 99 and 99/100 percent of them by their silence indicate that they are in safe and sane hands. The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil influence. They deserve a place of honor with all that’s good. When firearms go, all goes. We need them every hour.” – George Washington’s address to the second session of the First U.S. Congress

          Although the video is a bit old now, I nonetheless want to share it with you. It documents the inception and application of a new special weapons system that virtually eliminates much of the time, money and energy put into training snipers. This new precision tracking firearm is made by a Texas-based company (naturally) called TrackingPoint Solutions and it can be put into the hands of virtually anyone, whether or not they ever shot a gun before, and can be accurate at over 1000 yards.

          What makes the weapon system so accurate is a revolutionary scope which is attached to an electronic trigger. The sight emits a laser which ‘tags’ the target and bounces back to the scope 52 times per second. This tells the rifle the wind speed, elevation, humidity, and all the other factors that trained marksmen have to take into account when making a long distance shot. All the user has to do is match up the reticule with the marked area and squeeze the trigger. The gun, having an electronic trigger, will not fire unless the shooter is aligned with the target, making for a virtually guaranteed hit.

“The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.” – Thomas Jefferson:

          Before we continue it would probably be most prudent if you watched the short documentary on the weapon system below so that we can be on even ground:

Video Credit: Motherboard

          I can’t help but feel that such a simple weapon that is so powerful, especially the .338 Lapua variant (very big!) that can be used by virtually anyone, raises some ethical issues! For trained military and police snipers to be accurate and hit a target at 1000 yards usually takes years of practice. This new system takes that time, effort and financial burden away.

“Arms in the hands of the citizens may be used at individual discretion for the defense of the country, the overthrow of tyranny or private self-defense.” – John Adams 

          Military and police departments are already inquiring into purchasing large quantities of this revolutionary device. The real question is, should civilians be allowed to own such a system? Some would argue that they don’t want ordinary people wielding the same power that the military or police have. I think that this is a good point. But others would argue the entire opposite, that the people should be empowered to defend themselves from their would-be ‘defenders’. To be honest, I don’t see this weapon’s system bringing up any more ethical questions that the gun debate in most countries hasn’t brought up already. My questions are what do you think about this new system? What is your position on gun control, or lack thereof? Should the military and police be the only ones to own powerful weapons, or should the people be on even ground with them?

“No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms in his own lands.” – Thomas Jefferson

          Leave all your thoughts in the comment section below, I’d love to hear your position on the matter!

Steven Umbrello – Owner & Executive Editor


  • this new system takes that time, effort and financial burden away.

    If you think this takes away the ‘financial burden’ you haven’t priced one yet.

    More importantly is what is missing from your comment here:

    For trained military and police snipers to be accurate and hit a target at 1000 yards usually takes years of practice.

    Not one word about other people besides the military and police that can spend the time and energy to learn to snipe; criminals, people with evil intentions, people with good intentions. Thousands of people learn long distance shooting because they want to master the skills and abilities needed. What that misses is the ethical mindset of the people learning.

    Are our military and police generally ethical and moral enough to do the right thing? Yes. But as the LA Police department showed during the Dorner incident; a.) not all of them are that ethical and b.) in times of stress they don’t all react/act ethically. The police department shot up 2 different vehicles that were not even close to what the suspect was driving.

    The real question is, should civilians be allowed to own such a system?

    See I have a different perspective on the question; “What reason should the government have to fear the average person (cops are civilians also by the way) owning such a piece of equipment?”

    Why does it make sense to let a collection of individuals (government) own something a single individual can’t own?

    Or more flatly stated, shouldn’t the people be able (not ‘allowed’) to buy anything the government could use against them?

    Who does the government fear and why?

    Bob S.

    • Very good, thank you for rephrasing the question, I can see that you understood my general line of thinking. I tend to agree with you that a private citizen should remain private, and that includes what he/she owns. With regards to the financial burden I wasn’t referring to the rifle, but the cost of training individuals for long distance and dynamic shooting. If I am correct, and I may not be, the army and police forces send individuals to sniping academies which train individuals in the nuances of long distance shooting. I am sure that this puts a particular burden on the taxpayer.

      Thank you for your thoughts. Id love to hear more about your position!

      • Do we allow people to own and fly private airplanes; even knowing how much damage planes can do?

        Yes we do. Not because people should be ‘allowed’ to own such but because the government shouldn’t have the power to limit what people can own and operate.

        People own chemicals that can result in the deaths of thousands or more. Again –think about how little liberty people would have if the government had the ability to restrict anything dangerous. We drive cars, no limits on horsepower, capacity, etc — despite more motor vehicle deaths than firearm related deaths.

        With regards to the financial burden I wasn’t referring to the rifle, but the cost of training individuals for long distance and dynamic shooting.

        First, it really doesn’t cost all that much to learn to shoot long distances. There is the Apple Seed project for example that teaches the basics of marksmanship for free/low costs. After that it is just a matter of practice and knowledge. The intensive training the military does regarding sniping is related to their unique requirements; infiltration, target location, ex-filtration, ethics etc.. Not the actual firing of the rifle.

        And I think you are missing the main idea I’m trying to get across — the ethics of the person matter more than technical skill.

        Sniping doesn’t have to be long distance (500+ yards) it can be very close. What matters is the mental state of a person who is out to kill another human being. Even with this system; a person would have to purchase it, learn to use it, aim it at another human being, pull the trigger and hold it on target. Ethics matter.

        Do you want the government to be sole determining factor as to who can own that or should the individual make that decision for themselves? Because as soon as you limit it to the government; you guarantee that only they and the criminals will own it. Ethics matter.

        Think about the type of government that says “This is too scary for the people we represent to own” — can they be trusted if they don’t trust us? Ethics matter.

        Personally, I think there should be a Constitutional amendment that simply states no level of government can pass a law that does not apply to itself. Affordable Healthcare Act a good idea; then put yourself in the system Congressman. Don’t want the people to own such a system; then the government can not own it.

        Bob S.

      • I agree with you. However, I live in Canada, those decisions were made a long time ago, the liberty of arms is but a dream. America still has the ability to fight for what they have, don’t let up!

  • I would like to own such a system as long as someone somewhere could assure me that there are places where I can take the system and actually fire it for pleasure or sport. I would hate to own it and not be able to fire it.

    • Is the system so different that any outdoor range that allowed other rifles would for some reason ban it? To me that would seem nuts, but not out of the realm of possibilities!

      • There are two reasons ranges might not allow such a system
        1. The distance many people want to shoot it. Most ranges are limited in the space available to shoot long distance.
        2. The calibers it is available in. Even if the distance is a available; many containment systems (baffles, backstops, etc) may not be able to stop a ‘high powered’ round.

        I’m on the board of a private gun range in the Dallas Fort Worth area. Our longest range is 200 yards. And we have to be constantly aware that houses have been built (after we created the range) 1,700 yards at the end of our property.

        Bob S.

      • Ah I see, but there are no restrictions against such a system itself correct?

  • Ah I see, but there are no restrictions against such a system itself correct?

    Not at our range but this is new technology and ranges will have to draft new rules governing the usage. It can be a major liability issue; think of someone playing around and locking in a target that is 180 degrees from the backstop “just for fun”. Lowest common denominator does apply to rules when dealing with large crowds.

    Bob S.

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