Gun control that doesn’t infringe?

A screenshot showing the ShotSpotter system, which detects gunfire and alerts law enforcement. (Provided by ShotSpotter)

A screenshot showing the ShotSpotter system, which detects gunfire and alerts law enforcement. (Provided by ShotSpotter)

I wrote a story  in today’s newspaper about an electronic gunfire detection system that Bradenton Police Chief Michael Radzilowski wants to use to monitor the most dangerous parts of his city – about four square miles that’s responsible for 80 percent of the city’s violent crime.

Here’s an excerpt:

The “ShotSpotter Flex Gunfire Location, Alert and Analysis Service” consists of sound sensors mounted throughout a portion of the city, coupled with an off-site 24/7 monitoring service, whose technicians immediately notify police when their sensors detect gunfire.

The technicians send police officers a near-instant alert in their patrol cars, via their onboard computers. If the officers touch the icon on their computer screens, it plays an audio recording of the gunfire, so the officers know if they are dealing with a lone shooter firing random rounds or a raging gunfight.

The real-time data will allow police to find the crime faster, provide aid to the injured quicker, identify suspects and witnesses before the flee, recover vital evidence before it is lost and protect the crime scene.

Chief Radzilowski has spent more than 45 years behind a badge, 31 of which  at

Chief Radzilowski

Chief Radzilowski

Washington D.C.’s  Metropolitan Police Department.  While he’s not a hardcore ‘gun guy’ – a lot of police aren’t, especially the senior ones – he’s very conscious of the constitutional issues involved with such a system.

He does not see any potential Second Amendment issues with the ShotSpotter system.

I’m not sure I do either.

ShotSpotter only detects gunshots fired outdoors, and can distinguish between actual gunfire and fireworks.

The officers get an address where the shots were fired, but the data does not give police probable cause to search a home, absent the owner’s consent.

No legitimate gun owner is going to be firing into the air, the so-called “celebratory gunfire,” which is deadly.

About the only questionable scenario I can fathom would involve a gun owner firing at a backyard range. However, if the range is legitimate, the police contact would not likely result in any enforcement action.

I understand there are privacy concerns, and worries over the government’s increasing use of electronic surveillance. These are concerns that should be addressed. However, for now, let’s stick to Second Amendment issues.

If any of you see any Second Amendment infringements or assaults, please let me know in the comment section here or on my Facebook site.





About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.


  1. Pingback: Gun control that doesn't infringe? | The Gun Feed

  2. Look at Harrisburg, PA. The Capital City that had to declare bankruptcy. They use ShotSpotter too. No it’s not an infringement, but after millions of dollars spent, it hasn’t prevented or helped solve ONE crime. ‘nough said me thinks.

  3. This isn’t ‘gun control’ in any way. There’s no difference between a cop hearing a shot with his ears and having it displayed on a screen like this.

    In most areas where it would be useful there is enough density that you probably aren’t allowed to discharge firearms anyways.

  4. Dan the A-K Man on

    Just find the areas with the highest # of registered Democrats & put the gun shoot monitors there for maximum detection!!!

  5. The only circumstance that would present a risk to liberty is if the people had to resort to arms to remove a tyrannical government, whereby this technology would give the Leviathan yet another unfair advantage.

    Barring that extremely unlikely scenario, police identifying the location of gunshots in real time would be a net benefit to public safety.

  6. I think the system will not actually do anything positive. In the cases where a gun is used as part of a self defense event, the issue will be over prior to any police arriving on the scene. In other cases, where a gun is discharged by accident, if there is an injury it will be reported by the physician and handled. Otherwise, it can only work if police can respond in a very short time, like 3 minutes or less. My opinion is that if police response is that quick there will not be a crime problem, otherwise, the new information will be too old to be useful. So, spend the money on getting more police on the street.

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