Wants Americans to use ‘smart gun’ technology, but police say new restrictions are dumb.
The Obama administration released a report outlining its strategy for expediting the real-world implementation of “smart gun” technology on Friday, continuing its push to make exercising one’s Second Amendment rights as difficult as possible.
The report was mandated as part of President Obama’s series of executive actions on gun control announced in January, and identifies requirements that “smart guns” would need to meet in order for law enforcement agencies to buy and use them. It also proposes Defense Department partnerships with private companies to further develop the technology and financial incentives for law enforcement agencies to purchase firearms with “smart gun” technology.
“Smart guns,” or gun safety technology, is technology designed so that only a predesignated individual may use a particular firearm. This technology could come in the form of biometric sensors in the gun itself, ring sensor technology like that being developed by Mossberg’s iGun Technology Corp., or even digital pass codes like those used to unlock a cellphone.
Proponents of the “smart guns” say they will reduce suicides, murders, and — perhaps most importantly — accidental juvenile deaths. But Second Amendment advocates and law enforcement officials say there’s nothing smart about them.
“The more complicated you make the weapon, the more likely you are to have a failure,” said Louis Dekmar, police chief in LaGrange, Georgia. If one isn’t able to unlock one’s cellphone on the first try, it’s a minor inconvenience, but if a police officer — or homeowner — is unable to discharge his weapon in the face of danger on the first try, it could cost him his life.
Smart gun technology also poses a potential danger in the other extreme for police officers. If a police officer with a gun using wristband or ring technology and a suspect engage are engaged in a physical struggle — and the suspect is able to disarm the officer and retrieve his weapon — the suspect may be well within the proximity necessary to discharge the weapon.
“We don’t want unproven technology to be tried out on law enforcement officers, who are most likely to be in the line of fire when they need their weapons to work,” said James Pasco, Jr, executive director of the National Fraternal Order of Police. “This is fine if the concept works, but we don’t want people going helter-skelter to embrace the latest shiny object.”
But some departments may not have a choice. “In the report, [the Department of Justice] has indicated that state and local governments could apply certain federal grants to the purchase of new firearms, including those equipped with advanced safety technology,” the White House said in an online statement.
A police department preoccupied with budgetary concerns may not be able to resist the prospect of federal grants. Indeed, heavily discounted “smart guns” courtesy of the federal government or federal financial rewards for implementing “smart gun” technology could make “smart gun” implementation by law enforcement inevitable.
And once “smart guns” become de rigueur for law enforcement, critics say, it will only be a matter of time before the federal government requires the technology be implemented in firearms for the civilian market.
“We are reviewing the report,” said Lawrence Keane, senior vice president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation. “We remain concerned that the administration’s agenda is to politicize law enforcement purchasing and eventually impose a mandate on the commercial market.”