The idiocy of 'smart guns'
Highly experimental SmartGun technology, photo used with permissionOne of the fondest wishes of the forcible citizen disarmament lobby is a legal mandate that all guns (or at least all handguns) for private citizens be fitted with so-called "smart gun" technology. At this point, such technology has not yet even been developed, but that was not enough to stop New Jersey from passing a law requiring the use of such technology whenever it does become available. That was in 2002:
The owner would have his grip programmed at a gun shop or police range by practice-firing the weapon. A microchip in the weapon would remember the grip and determine in an instant whether the authorized user was holding the weapon. If not, the gun would not fire.
Under the New Jersey law, the technology will be required in all new handguns sold three years after the state attorney general determines a smart gun prototype is safe and commercially available.At this point, almost seven years later, the technology still isn't available.
The unavailability of that technology in 2007, as it turns out, may have saved the life of a New Jersey woman who came face to face with a home invader while she was home alone (except for the assailant).
The woman ran to her bedroom, locked the door and grabbed her husband's handgun and ammunition, Traina said.
The gun is legally registered to the woman's husband, he said.
She then ran into the bathroom, locked that door and loaded the weapon while sitting on the floor.
Meanwhile, the burglar burst through the bedroom door and began pounding on the bathroom door. "But he's not saying anything to her," Traina said.
The woman, still on the floor, pointed the gun at the door and fired.She missed, but the criminal apparently suddenly remembered a pressing engagement elsewhere, and left in a hurry. Note that the gun was registered to her husband, and would thus not have been programmed to work for her.
Interestingly, one exception to New Jersey's "smart gun" requirement, whenever it goes into effect, will be police officers' guns. That seems a little odd, when one considers that although it is quite rare for people to be shot with their own guns, after being disarmed by a criminal, when it does happen, police are among the most likely victims--remember Brian Nichols?
Protecting law enforcement from being shot with their own guns, actually, is often used as a selling point for mandating such technology.
According to gun maker Smith and Wesson, guns could be made with personal recognition technology such that only the intended user could fire the gun. This practical technological solution would save the lives of countless victims of gun violence, accidents and suicides each year. It could also help save the lives of the 17% of police officers killed in the line of duty by a criminal accessing the officer's gun.So why the exception for police officers' guns? Probably because they want nothing to do with it. They don't want to trust their lives to enormously complex--and thus enormously failure prone--gear. They don't want to have to worry that the gun won't function in their off hand, should their dominant hand be injured. They don't want the additional failure point of batteries that choose to die at the most inopportune times. Presumably, the bean counters in accounting aren't terribly excited about the inevitably huge price of such technologies.
Those are all very valid concerns. Here's the thing, though--they're just as valid for private citizens as they are for law enforcement.
"Smart gun" requirements are being pushed heavily in several other states, including California, New York, and Illinois.
Please join me in extending a warm welcome to our newest Gun Rights Examiner, Dave Workman, our Seattle Gun Rights Examiner. For most folks within the gun rights community, Mr. Workman will need no introduction. Here's one anyway:
Dave Workman is an author, senior editor of Gun Week, communications director for the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, award-winning outdoor writer, former member of the NRA Board of Directors.
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