Quite honestly, I don’t have a problem with “smart guns” or “biometric guns,” firearms that only operate when activated by an authorized user. We live in a free society, if there is a demand for smart guns, then by all means entrepreneurs, engineers and manufacturers should meet that demand. In reality, the same could be said for self-driving automobiles or any other emerging technology, if there is a demand, then the market should fulfill it. Unfortunately there is little in the gun world that isn’t seized by the gun grabbers and manipulated to take away your guns. This week the battle against mandatory smart gun technology heated up, and it is paving the way for a requirement that all gun dealers in the US carry at least one biometric gun in their inventory.
With respect to smart guns, though, there is a big problem. Well, there are actually two big problems: 1. Early testing with smart and biometric prototypes indicated that there are issues with reliability, i.e. the gun doesn’t fire every time the authorized user wants it to. 2. The government.
Arguably, as smart gun and biometric technology are refined, problem number one will be solved. Several companies have come to SHOT Show in the past several years, advertising that they have figured out how to make smartguns 100% reliable in a self defense situation, but after testing, the technology is nowhere near as foolproof as they claim. Armatix’s iP1 pistol, is one of them, a smart gun that requires a radio-frequency-emitting watch to operate. Sure, it’s prohibitively expensive at $1,800, but from the looks of things it is rather reliable — so long as you remember to where your watch! The watch/ring/band RFID concept has been tried before, and it’s really a joke. What about a year later when you can buy RFID gun jammers on Ebay?
Again, I don’t have a problem with Armatix’s iP1 pistol. It’s definitely not something I’d buy (for obvious reasons: cost, and I’m not wearing a watch 24/7), but maybe it appeals to some of you. And I’m not going to tell you not to buy it because who am I to tell you how to exercise your Second Amendment rights? The problem is that when such a gun comes into the market, regardless of the price and the function, anti-gun legislators will grab onto it and say hey, we want only these kinds of guns in our state. Take away all the other guns that don’t comply with this standard!
But speaking of telling you how to exercise your right to keep and bear arms, there are some amongst us who believe it is within their power to do just that, to dictate and define what hardware we can and cannot possess, own, carry, etc. I’m, of course, referring to the government, problem number two.
This week in New Jersey there was new push to force the public to purchase only smart guns. A bill was passed back in 2002 that required all Garden State FFLs or gun shop owners to sell only smart guns after they’ve been on the market for three years. Now the same geniuses who helped fight for the untenable law are angling to repeal it and replace it with yet another stupid smart gun law.
“The whole problem with the mandate was that it forced buyers in New Jersey to buy a smart gun,” explains gun-control activist Ralph Fascitelli in an interview with Mother Jones. “This new law forces gun dealers to offer a smart gun, but still provides a choice for gun owners to buy whatever they want.”
State Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) is leading this effort. On Thursday, she introduced a bill that, if passed, would require New Jersey gun dealers to carry at least one smart gun model on their store shelves. Not as onerous as the law on the books now (which hasn’t really taken effect because of all the issues with smart gun technology). So it is more of a clever way to get around the principle complaint from the NRA. It would pave the way to bringing smartgun tech to the market, which opens up a whole beehive of new legislative options for the gun banners. From the Mother Jones article:
|The chill on smart guns in the United States is to some degree the unintended consequence of a 2002 New Jersey law that would phase out the sale of conventional guns in that state; the law requires New Jersey gun dealers to sell only smart guns once they become available in retail stores anywhere else in the country. The law was intended to spur the market for the technologically innovative weapons, whose backers believe they could enhance safety and help reduce certain types of gun violence, such as attacks with stolen firearms and the all too common accidental shootings deaths of children. But the law badly backfired by becoming fodder for gun-rights activists, who argued that smart guns are part of a government plot to track and ultimately ban all guns.|
Like myself, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade organization, believes the whole smart gun debate is really an issue for the free market to decide and not government officials.
“The firearms industry is not opposed to the development or marketing of user-authorized (“smart gun”) technology, but we continue to oppose any form of government mandate, including telling a retailer to stock a product in the attempt to create demand that we frankly do not yet see,” said the NSSF in a statement to GunsAmerica.
“If a safe and reliable product can be developed and marketed that consumers then want to purchase, then retailers can make the decision to sell it. Let the marketplace decide,” the statement continued. “The government’s involvement is not needed and, in fact, is counterproductive since this initiative in general is being promoted by political officeholders with records of advocating more restrictions on law-abiding citizens.”
With that said, there are some questions one has to ask: What makes the government of New Jersey think it has the right to tell gun dealers what they can and cannot sell in their stores? More fundamentally, why is the government foisting smart guns into the marketplace?
The answer to the first question is, well, the government doesn’t respect the U.S. Constitution and the rights of small businesses. The answer to the second question is a little harder to pin down, but if I had to guess I think it’s because the government sees smart guns as a way to increase the digital footprint of gun owners. Technology is great, but there is a downside in that it creates another way for the surveillance state to track and record our daily lives. Sure, the government already knows who we are, where we live, what we do, but if they have a way to determine what guns we have, what the technological vulnerabilities of those guns are, etc., then the government is better poised to deal with us should it need to. Maybe I’m being a bit overly Orwellian in my speculation, but in the wake of the Snowden disclosures on the NSA I’m not so sure what I’m suggesting is too far afield.
In any event, we’ll keep you posted on the progress of this poorly conceived bill.