Public health experts have a list of possible solutions that fall outside the most fractious debates over firearms. Stephen Teret, a public health expert at Johns Hopkins University, has pushed for the engineering of “smart guns,” which could only be fired by their owners: No more weapons finding their way into the black market, or becoming deadly playthings in the hands of children. (The NRA has fought the new technology.) Teret’s idea would address both intentional and accidental gun hazards, but there are lots of ways to approach the latter—from mandated child safety locks, to features that would make it more obvious if a weapon was loaded.
ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER: I think that one of the things that we learned when we were trying to get past those common sense reforms last year, Vice President Biden and I had a meeting with a group of technology people and we talked about how guns can be made more safe by making them either through finger print identification, the gun talks to a bracelet or something that you might wear, how guns can be used only by the person who is lawfully in possession of the weapon.
It’s those kinds of things that I think we want to try to explore so that we can make sure that people have the ability to enjoy their Second Amendment rights, while at the same time decreasing the misuse of weapons that lead to the kinds of things that we see on a daily basis.
Think of it as iPhone technology for your handgun. Within the year, a new form of biometric authentication for “smart guns” is expected to hit store shelves for $300.
“The key is reliability,” Detroit engineer Omer Kiyani toldCNN of his product, Indentilock. When Mr. Kiyani was a teenager he was shot in the face with an unsecured firearm and has used that experience to create something he feels will save lives…
“The main point of firearms ownership is home defense, and home defense means quick access,” he said. “… But the other side of that is accidents. … I’m a gun victim, a gun owner, and I have children. I came up with something that fits my needs.”
Even if all goes to plan, Kiyani’s will not be the first smart gun system to hit the U.S. market. In February, German firm Armatix launched its iP1 pistol that uses a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip activated by the owner’s watch, and the competition is growing.
Directives from the White House to promote development of safety technology in the wake of school shootings have led to a surge of innovation. There is now an increased appetite and funding for a field that had stalled since the earlier designs in the 1970s. The boldest statement is an open challenge from The Smart Tech Foundation. It was created by Silicon Valley angel investor Ron Conway and serial entrepreneur Jim Pitkow in response to the Sandy Hook shootings and is making $1 million in prizes available for development of the best ideas.
The Foundation claims to have received over 200 entrants after the first month of the submission period, everything from concept stage to working prototype. Designs include electronic ammunition, remote controls and RFID chips buried in the owner’s skin…
But a recent poll from the National Shooting Sports Foundation found that just 14% of Americans are likely to buy a smart gun, and the majority believe they are unreliable. Many gun rights advocates are hostile to the concept, arguing it is a ploy for gun control and is against the Second Amendment. Some gun advocates also argue that the electronics could be hacked by criminals. Opposition to Armatix’s launch has reportedly been strong enough that it forced the vendor to withdraw its products. The California store which announced it would be selling Armatix products swiftly distanced itself from them following a severe backlash from gun rights activists.
The Oak Tree Gun Club in Santa Clarita, California, which was briefly associated with the Armatix smart gun, is now rapidly backpedaling away from the fledgling technology as fast as it can.
“Our facility does NOT carry the Armatix pistol, never has,” officials with Oak Tree told one media outlet on Feb 27. This was just a week after James Mitchell, the “extremely pro-gun” owner of the Oak Tree Gun Club, boasted to the Washington Post that his firearms shop was the only outlet in the country selling the Armatix iP1…
Oak Tree’s Facebook page has been under a steady barrage of negative comments from those upset with the store’s apparent association with Armatix for weeks. These comments run from, “You have betrayed the shooting community on a national level. Hope you enjoy the 30 pieces of silver you got from Armatix,” to, “You have just lost me, my friends, and my family as a customer. How dare you support those who would take our rights from us?”
Technological tricks are par for the course for anti-rights gun banning autocrats. Technology becomes a tool to ban things – just mandate a feature for “safety” (especially when it’s the antithesis of safe) and suddenly all the things they want to ban can be banned in the name of “safety”. Then soon enough the last thing wasn’t “safe” enough, and it can be banned, too…
The same Department of Justice that sent guns to Mexican narcoterrorist cartels now wants a third of a billion dollars to spend to target you and your rights. Eric Holder brought plenty of “safety” to Mexico and the border, and then hushed it up afterwards.
I’ve discussed in the past that the Armatix iP1/iW1 combination is a dangerously unreliable, imminently-hackable, seriously under-powered, and prohibitively expensive gimmick.
I’ve also made the argument that imposing an $1,800 pistol/watch combo upon the citizenry by executive mandate or legislation is inherently racist as the equivalent of a poll tax, designed to economically disenfranchise those most likely to live in high-crime-rate neighborhoods, who are disproportionately minorities.
But for all the iP1/iW1 combination’s faults, I’ve seen nothing that hints that it is designed as a tracking device, nor did the Attorney General mentioned anything during the video-taped segment above indicating that he is interested in tracking guns.
If anything, Operation Fast and Furious, Gunwalker, and the various other gun-smuggling plots (up to ten in five cities) of the Department of Justice prove that the Obama Administration has no interest in tracking guns… even after hundreds of civilians and a number of police officers in two nations die as a result.
James Burgh, an English Whig who empathized with the American project and whose writings were widely disseminated in the new country, put it more bluntly. “Most attractive to Americans,” Burgh wrote, “the possession of arms is the distinction between a freeman and a slave, it being the ultimate means by which freedom was to be preserved.” Which is to say that, beyond a limited role in interstate regulation, the nature of the firearms that the public owns is none of the government’s damned business, and the suggestion that the citizenry might install GPS trackers and functionality disablers in their weapons is so self-evidently absurd as to inspire sardonic laughter and little else besides.
Holder’s faith in technology is touching. There currently exists a grand total of one “smart” gun — an expensive German product that comes only in a weak caliber that is wholly unsuitable for self-defense. Indeed, as Guns.com’s Max Slowik observes, the very idea of magically “safe” firearms remains something of a “myth”:
“Smart guns introduce a layer of complexity that brings along with it several points of failure. They are battery-operated and generally default to safe. They are not water resistant. Biometric scanners require a clean scanner and a clean scan, and cannot be used with gloves. Radio-based scanners can be spoofed or jammed, and because they’re linked to a ring or bracelet, can be used by anyone with access to the key. Both systems are not instantaneous; it takes time for the controller to disengage the safety.
“And they just don’t work 100 percent of the time. Which is precisely why both New Jersey and Maryland have enacted legislation that exempts them from being forced to issue smart guns to their police officers. For a target or recreational shooter, this might be OK. But for anyone who may want to use their gun for self-defense, police or otherwise, the failure rate inherent to smart guns — about one percent with the latest generation of smart safeties — is unacceptable. Smart guns aren’t.”
The attorney general, in other words, has his work cut out. Even if smart guns did live up their moniker, the “common use” standard outlined in the D.C. v. Heller decision would put paid to any legislation that might seek to back up the government’s enthusiasm with legal force. Put crudely: Unless the public wants it, this isn’t going anywhere, Eric. And, at the moment, at least, they do not.
Attorney General Eric Holder thinks government should force gun owners to wear special “identifying” bracelets?…
Eric, you can replace my identifying bracelets with your government marker when you pry them off my cold, dead wrists.
And, Eric, “You don’t want to go there, buddy.”