‘Smart’ handgun a bright idea whose time will never come, if NRA has its way

 (Image courtesy of Armatix)

(Image courtesy of Armatix)

“Smart” handguns could cut down on a lot of the distressing things that happen when firearms fall into the wrong hands.  So why are gun sellers being pressured not to offer them?

Among the most distressing things that can happen with a handgun in America are these:

An adolescent gets a hold of a handgun, and either an accidental shooting or suicide results.
A so-called straw purchaser buys handguns in bulk and resells them on the street to people with crime on their mind.

The technology known as the “smart” handgun cuts down sharply on the chances of either of those unhappy results. How? By making guns that are configured so that only the owner can fire them.

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No one with the legal right to buy a gun is constrained, but some downsides of the status quo are ameliorated.

Now a German gun maker wants to start selling such a firearm in America. So everyone’s cheering, right?


A gun dealer in Maryland and a gun range in California that planned to sell the Armatix smart gun backed off after protests, abuse and even death threats.

The Maryland store owner, who describes himself as staunchly “pro-Second Amendment,” called the abuse he received from other gun-rights activists as “so fricking hypocritical.” As he noted, what gun activists supposedly hate is any outside power dictating what guns a gun shop can sell, but that’s exactly what was being done to him.

What’s the outside power in this case? Frankly, it’s the iron triangle of American gun makers, the gun magazines that hawk their wares and parrot their narratives, and the National Rifle Association, which weaves the narratives.

Why would American gun makers resist selling a safer product at higher prices? We’ll we’ve seen a similar movie movie, with American car makers, who fought everything from the seat belt on up and relented only under the pressures of government regulation and foreign competition.

In this case, American gun makers, locked into their alliance with the NRA, have resisted developing smart guns. So if the idea took off in the marketplace, their European competitors would get the jump. Also, we can only presume that American makers like the revenue they get from all those illegal straw sales.

New Jersey plays a huge role here. Its smart gun law, the nation’s first, says that once smart guns are sold anywhere in the U.S., that kicks off a three-year countdown to a statewide smart gun mandate.

The New Jersey factor explains the swift abuse heaped upon potential smart gun sellers coast to coast.

And it leave exposed for the pile of hypocrisy it is the NRA’s rhetoric that it cares as much about gun safety as any American.

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