US 20020170219 A1
Methods and apparatuses for reducing the criminal usefulness of a dischargeable hand weapon used for defense by limiting its dichargeability to the area where it is kept for defense, by disclosing its location, and by disclosing that its imminent use is contemplated.
1. An apparatus comprising:
a dischargeable hand weapon;
means for determining the information that for a certain duration of time immediately preceding said determining, said determining means was always present in an area having certain maximum dimensions;
means, in contact with said weapon, for preventing the discharging of said weapon based on said preventing means not receiving said information; and
means, in contact with said determining means and said preventing means, for linking said determining means to said preventing means when said preventing means is within a certain distance of said determining means so that said information can be received by said preventing means.
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11. A method for reducing the criminal usefulness of a hand weapon comprising the steps of:
preventing the discharging of said weapon;
determining that for a certain duration of time immediately preceding said determining, an object was always present in an area having certain maximum dimensions; and
allowing the discharging of said weapon so long as said weapon is within a certain maximum distance of said object, said weapon is linked to said object, and said object has continued to always be present in said area.
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 1. Field of the Invention
 This invention relates to dischargeable hand weapons and in particular to methods and apparatuses for reducing the criminal usefulness of such weapons.
 2. Description of Related Art
 U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/845,123 discloses methods and apparatuses for reducing the criminal usefulness of a dischargeable hand weapon by using means for determining the location of the weapon, means for storing information of at least one area where discharging of the weapon is allowed, and means for preventing its discharging if it is not in that area.
 Colts has reportedly produced a prototype of a handgun that can be fired only by persons authorized to fire it.
 U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,423,142, 5,192,818, and 5,068,989 disclose several methods and apparatuses for reducing the criminal usefulness of dischargeable hand weapons with the claims of U.S. Pat. No. 5,423,142 being similar to the claims herein.
 U.S. Pat. No. 4,682,435 discloses a safety system for selectively disabling a firearm.
 U.S. Pat. No. 4,672,763 discloses a device for preventing the unauthorized firing of a weapon.
 U.S. Pat. No. 4,563,827 discloses a safety system for disabling a firearm.
 U.S. Pat. No. 4,488,370 discloses a weapon system and method for controlling the operation of a weapon to prevent it from being accidentally operated or operated by an unauthorized person.
 U.S. Pat. No. 4,154,014 discloses an apparatus for preventing unauthorized activation of a touch-operable device.
 U.S. Pat. No. 4,003,152 discloses a safety system for firearms.
 U.S. Pat. No. 3,400,393 discloses a safety mechanism that prevents a weapon form being discharged while aimed toward a source of electromagnetic waves.
 Many dischargeable hand weapons are popular for the defense of homes and businesses. Reducing the criminal usefulness of those weapons would save many lives and reduce injuries. There are several ways of accomplishing this. One way is by limiting a weapon's area of usefulness. Accordingly, the main object of this invention is to provide methods and means for preventing the discharging of a hand weapon in locations that are relatively distant from where the weapon is kept.
 Normally a hand weapon that is kept for defense of a home or business is left undisturbed or kept in a relatively small area for a long period of time. The area where a part of the disclosed embodiment of this invention is normally kept is determined by keeping the part in that area for a minimum of 24 hours. Therefore, another object of this invention is to provide means for ensuring that only after a time-area requirement is fulfilled and only if the entire weapon continues to remain nearby can it be discharged.
 The location of any object can be determined from information of its distance from at least three known locations (triangulation). Because all radio waves travel at the speed of light, one can also use at least three radio signals and travel time information to calculate an object's location. This method will work either by sending radio signals from three different locations to one radio receiver or by sending the radio signals from the location in question to receivers at three different locations. Both GPS (global positioning system) and cellular telephone technologies that can determine the locations of 911 calls use radio signals to determine locations. Because of altitude and other considerations, more precise locations can be obtained by using more than three radio signals or averaging several location determinations.
 One device that can be used to determine that a hand weapon has remained in an area is a GPS receiver. It can either be carried with the weapon or be a part of a separate base part of the weapon that must be kept relatively close to the weapon in order for the weapon to be discharged. Other devices can also be used, for example, a tilt switch; however, it must be part of a separate base part of the weapon.
 Providing means that require for discharging that the base part be in contact with a permanently located source of alternating current for the first 24 hours of its timing period is another object of this invention. That helps insure that the weapon has not been kept in a vehicle during that time.
 Providing means that require for discharging that the weapon be allowed to discharge only after receiving allowing information via a telephone is another object of this invention.
 Knowledge that at a certain residence there is a hand weapon capable of discharging is valuable information for police to have in case they have to go to that residence in the future. Therefore, another object of this invention is to provide means for disclosing the location of a hand weapon that is capable of discharging.
 Knowledge of the location where use of a hand weapon is contemplated is valuable information for police and security services to have. Therefore, another object of this invention is to provide to provide means for disclosing the location where use of a hand weapon is contemplated.
 The drawings are not to scale and some obviously necessary parts are omitted (e.g., wires), or some parts are modified in shape in order to allow for clearer illustration of other parts. The arrows indicate control is exerted by one part over another part in the direction of the arrow, or there is an electric power or information flow from one part to another part in the direction of the arrow.
FIG. 1 is a block diagram of a part of a handgun having electronic parts.
FIG. 2 is a side view of the part of FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is a block diagram of a part of a handgun having electronic and electromechanical parts.
FIG. 4 is a side view of the part of FIG. 2 with a portion of it broken away to illustrate internal parts.
 In this application “dischargeable hand weapon”, “hand weapon”, and “weapon” all mean a weapon or hunting device having a triggered discharge and designed to be partly or totally hand held while being discharged. Examples include handguns, rifles, shotguns, hand held rocket launchers such as the Gyro-Jet, crossbows, tear gas sprayers, and electric shocking devices. Criminal usefulness of a hand weapon includes the usefulness of the weapon for illegally threatening a person or injuring or killing a person or an animal.
FIGS. 1 through 4 illustrate a handgun 10 having a base part 11 and a revolver part 12. It is designed for defensive use in homes or businesses. It is not suitable for hunting because of two firing requirements. Those two firing requirements also make it unsuitable for crimes where the weapon has to be transported to the location of the planned crime shortly before the crime is to be committed. In addition, when using the radio and telephone transmitting capabilities of the handgun 10, its location and serial number can be determined by police departments.
 The handgun 10 has a time-area requirement that requires the base part 11 to have always been present during the immediately preceding 24 hours in a circular “base” area having a radius of 50 feet. There is also a distance requirement that requires the revolver part 12 be within 150 feet of the base part 11 for firing to occur. Meeting the time-area requirement can be accomplished in one of two ways by this handgun 10: by remaining stationary or by actually being allowed to change locations in the base area.
 During normal operation, a rechargeable base battery 13 or battery eliminator 14 having a flip-out 115 volt ac plug, supply necessary power to a base ASIC (application specific integrated circuit) 15, a tilt switch 16, a GPS receiver 17 having a GPS receiver antenna 18, a transceiver 19 having a transceiver antenna 20, and a cellular telephone 21 having a cellular telephone antenna 22. Power can also be made to be received only from the battery eliminator 14 by the base ASIC 15. Information from the tilt switch 16, and the GPS receiver 17 goes to the base ASIC 15. Information goes to and from the base ASIC 15 and the following parts: the transceiver 19, the cellular telephone 21, a numeric keypad 23, and a keypad jack 24. Information can go from the base ASIC 15 to the base plug 25. The internal electronic parts of the base part 11 are potted in epoxy 26 that provides resistance to tampering.
 The base ASIC 15, like other ASICs, is a semiconductor chip, and it is programmable by use of the keypad 23. The base ASIC 15 can be made by a custom ASIC manufacturer having the capability of making ASICs based on functional descriptions. Many of such manufactures have web sites on the internet.
 One of the operations of the base ASIC 15 is to receive information from the tilt switch 16 or the GPS receiver 17. The selection of which information source to use is made at the keypad 23. The keypad 23 is accessible using a combination number and it has a display for displaying programming menus and keying. Selections and programming by use of the keypad 23 provides for flexibility of use and possibly for fulfilling one or more legal requirements of the jurisdiction where the handgun 10 is used. The keypad jack allows an external keypad at the end of a cable to be used in place of the keypad 23.
 The GPS receiver 17 operates essentially like other GPS receivers. Through its GPS receiver antenna 18, it receives radio signals from four GPS satellites. It functions as a means for determining the location of the base part 11 from the transmitting and arrival times of the signals, and thus their travel times. The location information provided as latitude and longitude information is then sent to the base ASIC 15.
 The tilt switch 16 might be used because of owner preference or in locations where the GPS receiver 17 cannot receive radio signals. The tilt switch 16 serves as a means for detecting an event relating to changing the location of the base part 11. That event is a tilting of greater than 0.5 degrees that will surely occur when a person handles the base part 11 to change its location. The normally open tilt switch 16 closes (turns on) at angles of more than 0.5 degrees from normal, and when it does, it sends that information to the base ASIC 15. Like most tilt switches, it is also affected by acceleration, with 0.0087 g (about 4 inches per second per second) being capable of closing it.
 There is always uncertainty present in measurement devices. For example, most GPS receivers, including the GPS receiver 17 of this embodiment, average several determinations to improve accuracy. That means that one correct or incorrect determination falling outside of the 50 foot radius will not be taken to mean that the base part 11 has strayed outside of its base area.
 Likewise, it is possible to move the base part 11 out of the base area without detection by the tilt switch 16, for example, if the part is moved very gently on a cart over a smooth floor. However, because of the low probability of that occurring, especially in committing a crime at a distant location, the base ASIC 15 disregards that possibility in making its determinations. Therefore, if no tilt is detected by the tilt switch 16 in a 24 hour period, the combination of the tilt switch 16 and the base ASIC 15 serves as a means for determining that the base part 11 was always present during that time in a circular area having a radius of 50 feet.
 The combination of the GPS receiver 17 and the base ASIC 15 also serves as a means for determining if in the immediately preceding 24 hours, the base part 11 was always present in a circular area having a radius of 50 feet. To make that determination, the base ASIC 15 determines that during the immediately preceding 24 hours, all of the averaged locations determined by the GPS receiver 17 were within 100 feet of each other. Selection of the GPS receiver 17 instead of the tilt switch 16 to provide information 15 allows the base part 11 to be handled or even moved about if one uses an extension cord or power from the base battery 13.
 Selection of the tilt switch 16 instead of the GPS receiver 17 to provide information to the base ASIC 15 prevents the base part 11 from being handled or moved about. In that case, the base part 11 would normally be plugged into an accurately plumbed wall outlet using the battery eliminator's flip-out plug.
 The base ASIC 15 can also be made to determine if a requirement is met that the base part 11 has been in electrical contact with a normally permanently located alternating current source (here a 110 to 120 volts power source) for at least the first 24 hours of the time-area requirement. By using the keypad 23 to select that option, the base ASIC 15 will obtain power for making its initial 24 hour determination directly from the revolver eliminator 14 without the base battery 13 being in the circuit. Thereafter, the base battery 13 would become available in case of a power failure. If the battery eliminator is not plugged in or if there is a power failure during the first 24 hours of the timing operation, the time-area requirement would not be fulfilled.
 Depending on how the base ASIC 15 is programmed, one of the following four scenarios will occur beginning immediately after the base ASIC 15 first determines that the time-area requirement has been met:
 1. Depending on programming by the keypad 23, the transceiver 19 or the base plug 25 become capable of or actually begin transmitting an informational signal with coding unique to the handgun 10. Receiving of that signal by the revolver part 12 is necessary for firing to occur. The signal has 5 watts of power so that relatively distant receivers that are not part of the handgun (e.g., police or security service owned) can also receive the signal and determine the location of the transceiver. Transmitting from the transceiver 19 goes to the revolver part 12 by means of radio waves and transmitting from the base plug 25 goes to the revolver jack 29 by electrical contact. If the transceiver 19 and base plug 25 are not transmitting, they can be switched on when firing is contemplated by keying a combination number on the keypad 23 or by use of a small transmitter “key” (not illustrated) that is equivalent to the fob transmitters that are used with vehicle alarms. That key can transmit a signal that is received by the transceiver 19, thereby causing the transceiver 19 to begin transmitting. After firing is no longer contemplated, transmitting by the transceiver 19 and base plug 25 can be turned off by using the keypad 23.
 2. The base ASIC 15 can also be programmed to cause the transceiver 19 to transmit the same signal of the first scenario for one minute immediately after the time-area requirement has been met and then turn off. That one minute signal serves to indicate to receivers that are not part of the handgun 10 that the handgun's time-area requirement has been met and that the handgun 10 is capable of firing if it is within 150 feet of the base part 11. If there are three receivers capable of receiving the signal, the location of the handgun 10 can be determined using the three receivers.
 3. The first scenario occurs while the base ASIC 15 instructs the cellular telephone 21 to dial a specified number. When there is an answer by an automatic answering device, the base ASIC 15 instructs the cellular telephone 21 to send an informational signal indicating that the handgun 10 (with serial number specified) has met its time-area requirement for firing. If that requirement was determined using the GPS receiver 17, information of the handgun's location is also included in the signal. That message is recorded by the answering device while at least three receivers owned by the cellular telephone company can determine and record the location of the base part 11. The recorded information is then made available to local police departments.
 4. The third scenario occurs except the first scenario is delayed as the information of the third scenario is quickly compared to information of locations where handguns are not permitted to be fired, a list of stolen weapons, and possibly a list of licensed weapons. If there are no illegalities, the answering device sends a signal back to the base ASIC 15 that enables the base ASIC 15 to proceed with the first scenario.
 5. The fourth scenario occurs, and in addition, the base ASIC 15 periodically instructs the cellular telephone 21 to dial a specified number. When there is an answer by an automatic answering device, the base ASIC 15 instructs the cellular telephone 21 to send a uniquely coded message that the handgun 10 has continued to meet its time-area requirement for firing. If there continue to be no illegalities, the answering device sends a coded signal back to the base ASIC 15 that enables the base ASIC 15 continue with the first scenario.
 6. The fourth scenario occurs and later it is decided that the handgun 10 should no longer be allowed to be fired. The cellular telephone 21 is called and a coded signal is sent to the base ASIC 15 that prevents firing.
 7. Scenario 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 occurs and later the time-area requirement is no longer met. The base ASIC 15 then doe one of two things: it instructs the transceiver 19 to transmit a one minute signal with coding to indicate that the handgun 10 is no longer capable of being fired or it instructs the cellular telephone 21 to dial a specified number and transmit a similar signal.
 The transceiver 19, revolver receiver 27, base plug 25, and revolver jack 29 serve as a means for linking the base part 11 with the revolver part 12 so that the information from the base ASIC 15 can be received by the revolver ASIC 33. In addition, the keypad 23 serves as means for allowing and preventing the functioning of the linking means.
 In case it is desired that the base plug 25 and revolver jack 29 serve to rigidly link the base part 11 with the revolver part 12, the receiver antenna 28 fits into a matching cylindrical space in the base part 11 and the base plug 25 fits into the revolver jack 29.
 When the transceiver 19 and base plug 25 are transmitting the signal, the revolver part 12 must be able to receive that signal in order for firing to occur. Receiving by the revolver part 12 and revolver ASIC 33 occurs at the revolver receiver 27 through its antenna 28 or through the revolver jack 29. Since the range of the transceiver 19 and revolver receiver 27 combination is 100 feet, the revolver part 12 must be within 100 feet for firing to occur. If the signal is being transmitted only by way of the base plug 25 and the revolver jack 29, the base part 11 and the revolver part 12 must be connected together for firing to occur.
 Except for its electronic and electromechanical parts, the revolver part 12 is essentially a revolver of conventional design. The revolver part 12 has a revolver battery 30 that sends power to a normally open switch 31. Slightly pulling the trigger 32 for firing closes the switch 31 thereby sending power to a revolver ASIC 33 and the revolver receiver 27.
 The trigger 32 and trigger blocking apparatus 34 of this application are essentially the same as parts 60 through 70 of U.S. Pat. No. 4,488,370, and the switch 31 is the same as part 17 of that same patent. The trigger blocking apparatus 34 prevents firing when it is not receiving power from the revolver ASIC 33 by blocking complete trigger movement, and it allows firing when it is receiving power by not blocking any trigger movement. After the trigger blocking apparatus 34 begins receiving power, firing can be accomplished by a continuation of trigger pull. Because the revolver's electronic processing is extremely fast, firing of the revolver part 12 feels no different than firing a conventional revolver.
 When information of the time-area requirement being fulfilled is received by the revolver ASIC 33, it sends power to the trigger blocking apparatus 34 and that allows the revolver part 12 to fire. Thus, the trigger blocking apparatus 34 functions as a means for preventing the firing of the revolver part 12 based on the revolver ASIC 33 not receiving information from the base ASIC 15 that the time-area requirement has been met.
 It is important that the revolver part 12 has good resistance to tampering and circumvention. Such resistance is provided by epoxy potting 35 of the wiring, electronic parts, and as much of the electromechanical parts as possible. In addition, those parts and the part of the trigger 32 in contact with the trigger blocking apparatus 34 are enclosed in a part of the weapon that has been welded shut. Additional tamper and circumvention resistance is accomplished by the use of a trigger blocking apparatus 34 that prevents firing when it is not receiving power instead of one that prevents firing when it is receiving power (which could be easily circumvented by removing the revolver battery 30).
 Many variations of this invention are possible. The following are some examples. Other types of dischargeable hand weapons may be used. Instead of using a cellular telephone, a conventional telephone or transceiver may be used (a cellular telephone is a specialized transceiver). The transceiver 19 may use an antenna system that would produce a noncircular area for reception of its signal. Instead of using contact with a 110-120 volts ac source for a time requirement, signal contact with a TV cable, internet cable, or other alternating current source may be used. Instead of a telephone, an internet connection can be used transmit and receive signals by the base ASIC 15. The transceiver's power or the receiver's sensitivity may be changed to increase or decrease the area that the revolver part 12 can be fired in. A cable between the base plug 25 and the revolver jack 29 may be used to link the two base part 11 with the revolver part 12 so that the revolver part 12 can be carried around separately from the base part 11 without any radio signals being transmitted.
 While the above description contains many specificities, they should not be construed as limitations on the scope of the invention, but rather as exemplifications of the preferred embodiments thereof. Many variations are possible without departing from the scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims and their legal equivalents.