Here comes the next technological breakthrough – smart guns. In California, German gun manufacturer Armatix GmbH has begun selling a gun which can only fire when the owner wears an accompanying wristwatch. And a venture capitalist from Silicon Valley named Ron Conway is offering a $1 million prize to anyone who produces the next innovation in smart gun technology.
There are many similar initiatives in the works. The Washington Post’s Mike Rosenwald reports:
Armatix, the German company behind the iP1, uses RFID chips, which can be found on anti-theft tags attached to expensive clothing. TriggerSmart, an Irish company, also uses RFID chips, though with a ring instead of a watch. The company also has technology that would render guns inoperable if they approached electronic markers — for instance, near a school.
The New Jersey Institute of Technology is using sensors to recognize users’ grips and grasping behaviors. Kodiak Arms, a Utah company, is taking pre-orders for its Intelligun, which is unlocked with fingerprints. Other companies are using voice recognition. Yardarm, a California start-up, uses a smartphone app to notify gun owners of a weapon’s movement. Users can even remotely disable their weapons.
Rosenwald hails the trend as “a dream of gun-control advocates for decades.”
He says introduction of the Armatix iP1 “is … seen as a landmark in efforts to reduce gun violence, suicides and accidental shootings. Proponents compare smart guns to automobile air bags — a transformative add-on that gun owners will demand.”
But I have to wonder if those gun control advocates are being too optimistic.
In my view, what we need is not smart guns but smart gun owners. And smart politicians who have the good sense and guts to enact sane gun control laws. Plus, of course, a Supreme Court that’s not in the pockets of the gun manufacturers.
There already are safety catches and trigger locks on guns, and I don’t see that making a dent in the mass slaughter constantly occurring in America.
Rosenwald says “lawmakers around the country have been intrigued by the (smart gun’s) possibilities.” He reports:
New Jersey passed a hotly contested law in 2002 requiring that only smart guns be sold in the state within three years of a smart gun being sold anywhere in the country. A similar measure made it through the California Senate last year, and at the federal level, Rep. John F. Tierney (D-Mass.) also has introduced a mandate.
I doubt these laws could stand a Supreme Court test, especially with the justices on the court today. And Representative Tierney’s “mandate” has no chance of making it through the Republican dominated House of Representatives. This Congress can’t even pass laws requiring background checks and banning the sale of military weapons to civilians.
You can bet the National Rifle Association, which seems to have a death grip on Congress, would block any attempt to make smart guns mandatory.
Besides, who says gun owners will “demand” the smart guns? What I see them demanding – a lot of them, anyway – is mass-murder machines with 100-bullet magazines. The kind of person who would buy a smart gun is not the kind Americans need to worry about. The real danger comes from gun-crazy loonies. And, of course, money crazy gun manufacturers and their political lackeys.