We’ve done a number of reviews of recent smart gun technology here and none of them have been particularly promising. Still, the work continues and if there’s a market for it, caveat emptor as far as I’m concerned. But once you get the government involved in the process, all bets are off. That’s why gun owners (and law enforcement officials) might be understandably nervous to hear that before leaving office, Barack Obama’s Department of Justice has issued new “guidelines” for smart guns. (Fox News)

The Obama administration on Wednesday announced a series of specifications for smart-gun manufacturers, born out of the president’s January executive action aimed at curbing gun violence.

But there’s a catch to the new set of guidelines: They’re voluntary.

“This project was designed to spur the growth of enhanced gun safety technology – and not to mandate that any particular individual or law enforcement agency adopt the technology once developed,” the Department of Justice wrote in a blog post.

So first the good news… the guidelines are voluntary. But am I the only one who hears about a set of voluntary guidelines from the government and immediately inserts the phrase “for now” right after it in their minds? This is a way of attempting to normalize something which is decidedly abnormal. And the technology behind these so called smart guns is anything but normal at this point. The NRA-ILA was quick out of the gate with a skeptical response.

“Any firearm that won’t fire when it’s needed just isn’t ‘smart,’” the NRA-ILA wrote. “And any ‘security’ system that defaults to turning itself off during a problem just isn’t secure.”

As part of his January executive action, Obama directed the government to review the availability of smart-gun technology on a regular basis.

As I said at the top, I have no problem whatsoever with firearms manufacturers experimenting with these gadgets if they wish. They may even believe that there’s a market for them, though most of the people pushing these ideas wouldn’t know what to do with an actual gun if their life depended on it. (Which it might some day for any of us, sadly.) But all of the designs we’ve seen thus far leave too many questions. A properly functioning firearm is, by design, supposed to be ready to fire unless you take the initiative to engage the safety. Particularly in the hands of the police (though it applies to any owner), a weapon which can instead default to a condition of being unable to fire is worse than useless. It can actually put you in more danger of being shot.

But that was never the point for most of the leftists pushing to make this technology mandatory. It makes the guns less desirable and, more to the point, drives up the cost to insane levels. And that’s precisely what most of the gun control movement wants. Mandating smart gun technology would act as a massive de facto firearms tax, driving them out of the price range of many potential, legal buyers.

smart guns