60 Minutes did a piece Sunday about smart guns, and it was about as fair and balanced as you could expect a mainstream media outlet to be. The general premise seemed to be “Look at all these great things that will definitely save lives! Why wouldn’t the evil Gun Lobby want people to have these?” That may work well for the uninformed, but the real reason why “smart guns” aren’t on the market is because New Jersey Democrats poisoned the well. Legislation on the books in New Jersey is causing a roadblock to any commercial availability of “smart guns,” and their refusal to repeal that law is the real reason why these guns aren’t on the market. In other words: blame the Democrats, not the NRA for this one . . .
The law in question is a New Jersey statute which requires that when a “smart gun” comes on the market – anywhere in the US – all guns for sale in New Jersey must feature “smart gun” technology. Even NPR understands the insanity of that logic.
Basically, the Childproof Handgun Law of 2002 says that once “personalized handguns are available” anywhere in the country, all handguns sold in New Jersey must be smart guns within 30 months.
The goal of the law was to spur “research, development and manufacture” of smart guns, according to its sponsor, New Jersey state Sen. Loretta Weinberg. But in practice, supporters and critics of the law now agree, that has not been the case.
“It actually doesn’t matter if the gun has been sold,” says David Kopel, a policy analyst at the Cato Institute. “If there’s just one available for sale anywhere in the United States, then that triggers the handgun ban. So who would want to sell a smart gun knowing that, by doing so, they’d be imposing a handgun ban on New Jersey?”
While the law may have been intended to promote smart guns, the reality is that it did the opposite. The law is keeping their development and distribution from ever becoming a reality. This is another fine example of a “feel good” law passed by gun control activists which has the exact opposite impact from what they were trying to achieve. Kinda like the the idea of “gun free” zones. And just like every other failed gun control law, they refuse to repeal it even though the impact is clear for anyone to see.
In the 60 Minutes segment they interviewed the bill’s author, and rather than admit her mistake she proceeds to blame the Evil NRA for the roadblock her law put in place.
Loretta Weinberg, the New Jersey state senator who authored the law, didn’t foresee its consequences.
Loretta Weinberg: We passed that bill to help spur this technology.
Lesley Stahl: It appears it totally backfired because it spurred this passionate objection to the gun.
Loretta Weinberg: Because of the intervention of the NRA and the Second Amendment folks.
Lesley Stahl: That, they say, the reason they intervened is because of the mandate.
Loretta Weinberg: Right. It isn’t the law that’s stopped the development. It is the people who threatened folks who actually wanted to sell such a gun.
She doesn’t take responsibility for constructing the law in such a way that it actually impedes production of “smart guns.” instead she deflects all of that failure to the NRA, claiming that the gun lobby is just twisting things and that her law is really a good idea. Even though it is obviously and clearly not.
That said, even if “smart guns” were introduced to the public there’s no indication that they would have even the slightest impact on “gun violence.” The 60 Minutes piece tries to paint “smart guns” as the silver bullet to the “gun violence” issue.
Smart guns could curtail the number of suicides, and cut down on the resale of stolen guns; estimated to be 230,000 every year. What good is a gun no one but the owner can fire? And they would help on-duty cops.
Suicides wouldn’t be stopped by this technology — the owner and registered user can still use the gun to kill themselves.
The resale of stolen guns wouldn’t be impacted — they traffic in cheap firearms, not expensive multi-thousand dollar guns like these “smart guns,” and the supply of the millions of “dumb” guns in circulation won’t run out anytime soon.
Even the mass shootings that prompt these “discussions” wouldn’t be stopped by “smart guns” — most of the killers in those cases obtain their guns legally.
“Smart guns” are definitely interesting technology that I would love to see mature, but the reason why they aren’t coming to market is due to legislation passed in New Jersey that would outlaw all the guns we have come to know and love and leave only an expensive firearm with an unproven track record. The expense alone involved with these “smart guns” is enough to keep low income and minority households from being able to purchase these items, and would turn gun ownership into a Constitutionally protected right that only the rich can afford.
Loretta Weinberg’s legislation is the modern day equivalent of a poll tax. Her bill would ensure that low income and minority families in her district would lose the ability to exercise one of their Constitutionally protected rights, and she doesn’t care. She claims that her bill “encourages smart guns,” but in fact it does the exact opposite. Her inability to step outside her fantasy world and understand the reality of the situation is the root cause of why “smart guns” aren’t commercially available, but she’d rather keep blaming the NRA than actually do something to improve the situation.