“Smart guns“–guns which will only fire when the trigger is pulled by the person who owns them–may be part of the next wave of gun control.
President Obama began talking about them just weeks after the Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting, and they were a central focus of Bill Clinton’s gun control push in the 1990s.
Moreover, in the wake of the recently defeated Senate gun control push, some Democrat Reps are preparing to introduce “smart gun” legislation.
Although these guns vary by design, the idea behind a smart gun is that it reads the fingerprints or the grip of its owner and will only fire when those fingers or that grip is on the gun. Other designs place a computer chip in the gun and a computer chip in a wristband or a watch that have to match up for the gun to fire–only the person wearing the band or watch could fire the gun.
Such guns faced strong opposition under Clinton, when their development was largely government sponsored. Now, two decades later, the guns are certain to face opposition although privately sponsored development has made them far more reliable. But like all means of gun control, they ultimately will not stop crime or criminal use of firearms.
As senior vice president and general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation Lawrence Keane has pointed out, in a setting like Adam Lanza’s Newtown home, the problem wasn’t the absence of “smart guns” but the accessibility of the firearms to begin with. Keane points out that even if Lanza’s mother had a watch or wristband to make her guns operable, “[Adam Lanza] presumably would have had access to that.”
Other problems with smart gun technology are cost based–How much would these guns cost versus guns people buy right now? Also, once these guns are mandated as a gun control statute by the government, will that mean the use of traditional, non-smart guns will be illegal?
Lastly, what if a burglar kills the father of the home and the eldest son or daughter isn’t able to pick up the father’s gun and use it to defend the rest of the family because the gun will only fire in the father’s hand?
Similar questions were asked two decades ago, and no one could answer them satisfactorily.