The President has announced a 3-step plan to implement so-called “smart gun” technology, electronic lock-out systems that prevent unauthorized users from operating smart guns. The administration has been investigating implementing smart gun tech in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting as part of their larger goal of implementing new types of gun control.
Smart gun technology has been in and out of development for years. Many gun control advocates argue that it would reduce the number of accidental or negligent discharges and make guns harder to steal and misuse. However, many gun rights supporters see this as a way to increase the cost of gun ownership and restrict gun ownership in general.
“Today, many gun injuries and deaths are the result of legal guns that were stolen, misused, or discharged accidentally,” said the President in a statement posted to Facebook. “As long as we’ve got the technology to prevent a criminal from stealing and using your smartphone, then we should be able to prevent the wrong person from pulling a trigger on a gun.”
The President indicated that he would continue to pursue increased gun control through executive orders in addition to legislative action. “We’re announcing a rule to ensure that federal mental health records about individuals prohibited from buying a gun are reported to the background check system,” added the President.
One part of the plan includes developing a series of smart gun requirements for law enforcement use. This is an unprecedented move–and particularly unusual in that many law enforcement agencies are against the adoption of yet-unproven smart gun technology.
Although the details of the requirements have not been publicly outlined or finalized, it is likely that, for now anyway, they seem to be performance requirements for smart guns, not a mandate for law enforcement to adopt the technology.
“[The] DOJ (Department of Justice) and DHS (Department of Homeland Security) will work on a set of ‘requirements that manufacturers would need to meet for federal, state, and municipal law enforcement agencies to consider purchasing firearms with enhanced safety technology’ to be completed in October, explains Politico. “That effort will also identify agencies that would be willing to participate in a pilot program.”
“Police officers in general, federal officers in particular, shouldn’t be asked to be the guinea pigs in evaluating a firearm that nobody’s even seen yet,” said James Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, in an earlier interview. “We have some very, very serious questions.”
No gun equipped with smart gun technology has proven to be as robust and reliable as their standard, non-smart equivalent. All the proposed systems have shortcomings.
Some smart gun systems use biometric scanners like fingerprint readers. These are expensive, not 100 percent accurate and do not worth with gloves and other protective clothing. Others use radio scanning systems combined with rings, bracelets, and other proximity devices. These have range requirements and can be spoofed or jammed.
In a life-or-death situation, guns have to work correctly every time. Concerns over the reliability of smart gun technology isn’t limited to just those in law enforcement. Because of this, there is little interest or money developing smart gun tech on the open market.
“Law enforcement officials in the U.S. have dangerous jobs and put their life on the line every day to keep us safe,” said the National Shooting Sports Foundation, or NSSF, in a statement. “The announcement by the White House is driven by the agenda of anti-gun interest groups, not by the demands of the officers whose lives depend on reliable firearms to do their jobs.
“Any step toward mandating that highly-trained federal law enforcement personnel carry firearms limited by the whim of unproven, unreliable technology makes their jobs more dangerous, and puts their lives and public safety at risk,” said the NSSF.