Op-Ed: Smart Guns are Dumb

Editor's Note: The following op-ed is quite timely, given a Cleveland "interfaith" group's recently-announced effort to convince government agencies to become consumers of the flawed, unproven technology.

American media has discovered the staggeringly odd notion of “Smart Guns.” Should we praise the Lord that we are finally safe, and thank MSNBC for our deliverance?

Not so fast. The problem with all “smart” guns is that they don’t always work and aren’t always appropriate. How reliable is your iffy wi-fi connection? Smart guns are even iffier, which is why cops refuse to carry or use them.

Nonetheless, Attorney General Eric Holder is calling for mandating smart gun bling as part of his latest battle against the Second Amendment rights of all Americans. In proposing $2 million in “gun safety” grants for the Justice Department 2014 budget, Holder promoted so-called “smart gun” technology that could include gun owners wearing a bracelet that would only allow the gun to be fired when the write decoration was in close proximity. And this week the Brady Campaign sued the New Jersey Attorney General to force that state to formally confirm the commercial availability of “personalized handguns,” and thus trigger a legislative mandate that only “smart guns” can be sold in the Tomato State. If they win, other civilian disarmament battleground states would no doubt jump on the dumb gun ban bandwagon.

“Smart” guns continue to be dumb as a concept, and also as a tested set of interrelated technologies. To the uninitiated, a so-called “smart” gun is one that can only be fired by a designated person. Ideally, in theory, that would be its owner. Many rather rudimentary design schemes for making a gun recognize the person pulling the trigger have been concocted, and simplistic versions of these restricted access firearms have been tepidly put on the market at various times over the past twenty or so years, with essentially no buyers. And for good reasons.

The smart gun concept originally raised its head last century. Sandia National Laboratories was tasked with studying the feasibility of smart gun technologies. As part of their research, they surveyed police agencies to determine what the most import factor was in selecting and using a firearm. Not surprisingly, police offices cited reliability as the most single most important feature they look for in a gun. In fact, reliability ranked three times higher than the next item down on the preference list. Apparently, cops insist that their guns always go off when they pull the trigger.

In situations where your life depends on it, I bet you want that too.

So far the designs for “smart guns” include pistols that measure your grip position and strength (factors that change when you are under stress from assault, or when your wife has to use your gun in an emergency), finger print scanners (that fail when you’re under stress, are wearing gloves, or when your hands are covered in blood, sweat or dirt), and various forms of near-field accessories – brackets, wrist watches, rings (that fail when the electronic connection is lost, you forget to accessorize, or a rapist is between the shower you just got out of and your dressing table).

Click here to read the entire op-ed at CalGunlaws.com.

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