The Hill: Fewer Officers Would Die if They Carried Smart Guns

A policeman grabs his pistol, Germany, city of Braunlage, 12. January 2015. Photo by: Frank May/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
Frank May/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

On July 3, The Hill suggested fewer police officers would die if smart guns were issued as service sidearms.

The theory: If an officer was carrying a smart gun, that would remove the threat of a criminal taking it and shooting the officer with it.

The reality: An officer armed with a smart gun might not be able shoot a criminal, which is a terrible spot to find oneself in if said criminal is charging with a knife, a tire tool, or a .357 revolver.

Breitbart News reported that King County, Washington, Sheriff John Urquhart attended a smart gun symposium earlier this year and told attendees that smart guns simply aren’t viable options. Urquhart’s statements ran counter to pro-gun control New Jersey senate majority leader Loretta Weinberg (D), who told symposium attendees about all the possible “benefits of a smart handgun,” then asked, “What gun owner wouldn’t want a gun that, if it got into [the] hands of child, would be rendered inoperable?”

Urquhart lives in the real world, where a sheriff, a deputy, or an officer needs a gun that goes bang every time—a gun that fires when the sheriff or deputy is under duress, a gun that works flawlessly whether the officer’s hands are bloody or burned or nearly mutilated as a result of a criminal attack with some kind of blade.

Smart guns cannot deliver confidence in these situations because the same questions that have haunted smart gun technology since the 1990s, haunt that technology still: Can the biometric readers on a smart gun read the sweaty or bloody palm or fingerprints of their owners? Can smart guns with biometric readers shoot if the fingerprints of the officer who owns the gun have been burned or cut? Can the biometric readers be jammed or tracked by other technology? Etc.

But in the theoretical world, senators like Weinberg espouse the benefits of a technology that has yet to be perfected. Moreover, after describing the benefits, she asks, “What gun owner wouldn’t want a gun [like this]?”

Now, The Hill has done the exact same thing. They suggest officers’s lives could be saved if only officers carried smart guns. To bolster this, they point out that “over 5,800 police are assaulted annually and firearms are the No. 1 cause of police deaths.”

They do not mention that the vase majority of officers who are killed with guns are not killed with their own guns, so the most important aspect of a service sidearm is that it fires when that officer is under attack and is trying to save his or her own life. Smart guns are simply not up to the task.

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