"Smart guns" and SAGA. The Second Amendment fight drags on

A couple of Second Amendment stories to get your weekend started. The first has to do with the apparently endless debate over so-called “smart guns” and the efforts by #2A opponents to mandate the clunky and still basically experimental technology on the entire country. There was an event in Washington, D.C. this week where a group of gun control enthusiasts enlisted the aid of sympathetic law enforcement officers to push for the use of such technology by the nation’s police departments. It was organized by Washington CeaseFire and they were pushing the idea that “smart guns” which recognize the fingerprints of the cops who use them wouldn’t be stolen and put to use by the bad guys. Meanwhile, they would work just fine when the police officers need them.

As Dan Spencer at RedState was quick to point out, this may sound nice in theory, but it simply doesn’t work that way in the real world.

Smart guns can be hacked. In fact, just last week, a hacker rendered the technology in a leading German-manufactured smart gun completely useless. He could extend the firing range beyond the allowed distance, jam the gun from firing in the hands of its user or even disable the “smart” mechanism completely to fire it himself…

For the IP1, the smart gun offers its owner nothing more than the appearance of security. Yet, the German manufacturer’s marketing claimed that the gun would “usher in a new era of gun safety.”

If there’s one thing that law enforcement needs in the field, it’s reliability. Unfortunately, smart gun technology doesn’t offer that. Until it does, we cannot even consider it, regardless of the stats or stunts that activists push.

The hacking question is certainly a valid one (and it remains a growing concern in all aspects of IT far beyond firearms) but it’s hardly the only issue. Plenty of experts have reviewed most of these guns before and found other, more fundamental problems. The time it takes for the weapon to initialize so that it “recognizes” the owner can be far too long. And a delay in being able to deploy your firearm in a critical law enforcement situation can add up to some dead cops pretty quickly. Also, some models have inherent flaws which allow the safety features to be disabled by someone with very little in the way of expertise. In short, this technology remains far from being ready for prime time. It’s bad enough that some legislators want to mandate it for private use, but forcing this on law enforcement is simply a disaster waiting to happen.

Not all of the #2A news is bad, however. The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) reports that New York Congressman Chris Collins has introduced new legislation which would standardize gun control laws across the country for popular rifles and shotguns, including specific parts for such firearms. Named the Second Amendment Guarantee Act (SAGA), the bill will be of particular interest to owners of so-called “assault rifles” such as the AR-15.

The bill is a response to antigun laws in a small handful of states – including California, Connecticut, D.C., Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York – that criminalize the mere possession of highly popular semiautomatic long guns widely available throughout the rest of the country. Although rifles or shotguns of any sort are used less often in murders than knives, blunt objects such as clubs or hammers, or even hands, fists, and feet, gun control advocates have sought to portray the banned guns as somehow uniquely dangerous to public safety…

The SAGA would ensure that state regulations could not effectively prevent the manufacture, sale, importation, or possession of any rifle or shotgun lawfully available under federal law or impose any prohibitive taxes, fees, or design limitations on such firearms.

The NRA thanks Rep. Chris Collins for leading this important effort and urges his colleagues to cosponsor and support this staunchly pro-gun legislation.

It’s a fine idea in theory, but given the Supreme Court’s stubborn reluctance to say much of anything about the inherent nature of Second Amendment rights since Heller, it’s tough to predict how they might react. The entire states’ rights issue inevitably gets dragged into the question, despite the fact that the right to keep and bear arms is supposed to universal. The court has similarly been vague at best when it comes to questions of “modifications” to firearms such as larger capacity magazines, suppressors and adjustable stocks.

Still, I’ll join with the NRA in thanking Congressman Collins and his co-sponsors for at least making the effort. The Senate Democrats will probably doom it to failure before it gets off the ground, but if nothing else it might bring the argument back to the forefront for voters as we approach the midterms.

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