I have to use rental cars a lot for work travel, and many of the newer vehicles have some pretty snazzy upgrades, such as side-view mirrors that adjust themselves, sensors that beep if you are too close to another vehicle and wide-angle rearview cameras that show the position of the entire vehicle in its environment. (And don’t even get me started about self-parking and self-driving cars!)
The technology is certainly cool and convenient, but besides wondering when all those complicated gadgets will fail or break, I find that I don’t necessarily put my faith and trust in these items. In fact, on a recent trip, the backup camera (which has been required in all cars since 2018) didn’t work at all. It’s amazing how much we end up getting used to and depending on those sensors and that little screen. I had to go back to the “old-fashioned” way of getting out of a parking space, which involved throwing my right arm around the passenger seat and wrenching my neck to look all around the vehicle for possible obstructions.
Of course, I don’t ever fully rely on the vehicle mechanisms, even in my own car. But I have noticed that I use them more so than not. Especially GPS. OK. I use navigation a lot! Apparently, most of us do and have been for nearly a decade. Unfortunately, too many people depend too much on these devices … to our own detriment. A 2014 article from BBC claimed, “technological crutches like GPS are making us not only worse drivers – they could also be making us stupid. Drivers relying solely on their navigational systems to get from here to there could be abandoning both spatial awareness and common sense.” A study from State Farm in 2019 concurs, finding that smart technologies are actually making us dumb … and turning us into worse drivers.
So how does this relate to firearms? Well, over the years, we have seen a lot of snazzy upgrades, such as lasers that emit bright beams to point out the target area or pistol-mounted optics that offer a red dot for aiming. (And we’re not even talking about smart guns, which can supposedly be fired only by “verified users.”) This technology is also cool and convenient. But similar to smart tech in cars, I don’t necessarily put my faith and trust in them.
In fact, on a recent trip to the shooting range, the optic didn’t work at all. Again, it’s amazing how much we end up depending on that little dot. I had to go back to the “old-fashioned” way of aiming at a target, which involved lining up the iron sights and using my dominant eye to stare down the front sight for an accurate hit.
Smart Users of Smart Technology
Just as we need to use our eyes and ears and all our senses in conjunction and connection with a vehicle (and all of its gadgets) to make sure we can drive it safely in all circumstances, we need to make sure we use our eyes and ears and all our senses in conjunction and connection with a firearm (and all of its gadgets) to make sure we can use it safely in all circumstances, as well. We don’t want to get to the point where smart technologies are making us dumb … and turning us into worse shooters.
I’m not saying ditch the technology. Gadgets are useful and effective and likely not going anywhere. But I am saying it’s important we don’t sacrifice mindfulness and responsibility for effortlessness and accessibility. When your life or the lives of others may be at stake, don’t trust the mechanics. Trust yourself.