New Jersey State Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg says she and others will introduce a bill to repeal a 2002 New Jersey law mandating the sale of “smart guns” only if the NRA backs off its opposition to the user-recognition guns and does nothing to stop the free enterprise of the buying and selling of smart guns.
Twelve years ago, New Jersey enacted a ridiculous law called the Childproof Handgun Bill requiring licensed firearms dealers in New Jersey to sell only “smart guns” if even one working model of a user-recognized “smart gun” is made available to sell in New Jersey or any other state. Proponents of the bill believe that “smart guns” will prevent suicides, accidental shootings and stop illegal firearm sales. Bryan Miller, formally of Ceasefire New Jersey, who helped write the bill, says the law will “force the irresponsible gun manufacturers to add safety features,” making guns truly personalized to their owners.
Indeed, the United States government pressured gun manufacturers in the past to research and develop prototypes of personalized handguns. Spanning from 1997 through 2006, the National Institute of Justice gave Colt $500,079, Smith & Wesson $3,673,361 and FN $2,606,146 to develop “smart guns.” All three produced working prototypes, albeit unreliable ones. Since then, all three manufacturers have backed out of any deals.
Further, New Jersey took $1 million of its Appropriations Act money to devote to development of a smart gun. Lawmakers and those who think the bill is the magical answer to “gun violence” wrongly believe that gun manufacturers such as Smith & Wesson, Colt, Ruger, Mossberg, and Taurus will make “smart guns” so they can sell to New Jersey. Similar gun safety laws, such as California’s microstamping law, show us that new technology is too expensive and unreliable for even the big gun manufacturers to consider. Ruger and Smith & Wesson both will not even consider adding microstamping capabilities to any of its guns.
Once a “smart gun” reaches market, New Jersey gives the gun three years before insisting New Jersey gun dealers sell no other gun but the smart gun.
The hotly contested and debated bill quickly slipped from gun owners minds. Smart gun technology was expensive and nowhere near close to working reliably. Recently though, the German company Armatix débuted its working .22 Long Rifle smart handgun called the iP1. The iP1 will not work without being within 10 inches of a wristwatch-like device that enables the gun to fire.
In the last few months, two gun dealers—one in California and one in Maryland—have come under a lot of scrutiny and shame from gun owners, as they both were planning on selling the iP1, turning New Jersey’s safe gun law into action. Oak Tree Gun Club in California allowed the use of its facilities to demonstrate the iP1 and rumor has it the iP1 sat on the gun shop’s shelves for sale. However, Oak Tree now claims the gun was never actually for sale. The New Jersey law states that every six months, the state’s attorney general must submit a report on the availability of a smart gun for sale, but since the Oak Tree Gun Club debacle, there has been no report.
Currently, Kodiak, a gun manufacturer in Salt Lake City, Utah is taking orders for its yet-to-hit the market “Intelligun” smart gun that uses fingerprint technology.
New Jersey is not the only state pushing for smart gun laws. Currently held in committee since August 2013, California Senator Mark DeSaulnier introduced SB 293, a bill almost identical to New Jersey’s smart gun law that passed California’s Senate. In April 2014, Attorney General Eric Holder requested $2 million to study the technology that would make a smart gun possible. Even at the federal level, we have lawmakers pushing for mandates on smart gun technology. On February 27, 2014, Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey introduced the Handgun Trigger Safety Act of 2014, also mimicking New Jersey’s law. However, Markey wants the federal law to go one-step further. Not only does his bill require all states to sell only smart guns, but requires retrofitting every “old, stupid” gun with user-recognizable technology. Referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, the bill is unlikely to go anywhere.
Stephen Teret, a professor at Johns Hopkins says, “Who is going to want to buy an old stupid gun rather than a smart gun?” Well, I don’t know. Rich people I guess. The iP1 retails for $1,399. In addition, you have to buy the watch-type thing separately, which sells for $399. Law enforcement and military are, of course “exempt” from the smart gun law.
So far the NRA has no official statement in retort to Senator Weinberg’s challenge, however it did say even though they are not against new firearm technology, they oppose any law that mandates it. Even if the NRA were to say, “Fine, Ms. Weinberg, we will do nothing to stop the development and sale of a smart gun,” does not mean her repeal would pass. After all, Senator Weinberg is a sponsor of a recently passed New Jersey law banning magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. Nia Gill, a supporter of Weinberg’s bill says, “We are advancing this cause and making sure New Jersey has some of the toughest gun control legislation in the country…”
Many questions arise from the possible implementation of these smart gun laws. Questions such as would it call for a national gun registry; who would pay for the retrofitting of over 300 million guns; how does it solve the problem of illegal guns; as well as many others.
The fight is far from over.
What do you think about smart guns? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section.
Suzanne Wiley started shooting at a young age when her older brother bought a Marlin 60 and taught her to shoot. She took to shooting and developed a love for it when she realized she was a natural with a .22 LR rifle at summer camp. As an outdoor adventurer, she enjoys camping, fishing, and horseback riding. Suzanne specializes in writing for the female shooter, beginner shooter and the modern-day prepper, and is a staff writer at Cheaper Than Dirt!
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