After Stifling ‘Smart Gun’ Development for More Than a Decade, NJ Considers Requiring Retailers Sell Only One Of Them

New Jersey state Sen. Loretta Weinberg (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma)

New Jersey has done more to stifle the development and potential sales of “smart guns” in this country than any other state. And no one in New Jersey has done more to keep things that way than state Senator Loretta Weinberg.

She’s one of the legislative geniuses behind the Garden State’s law that requires all guns sold in the state to be so-called smart guns once smart guns are for sale anywhere in the US. In 2002 they passed this language:

The amended bill specifies that three years after it is determined that personalized handguns are available for retail purposes, it will be illegal for any registered or licensed firearms manufacturer or dealer to transport, sell, expose for sale, possess for sale, assign or transfer any handgun unless that handgun is a personalized handgun.

In other words, once someone starts producing and selling a “smart gun” to the public somewhere, smart guns will be the ONLY guns legal to sell in the state.

Armatix smart gun

Courtesy Armatix

So when attempts to actually sell the crappy Armatix pistol to the public were made in 2014, gun owners revolted against those retailers. No one wanted to see sales of the gun trigger New Jersey’s authoritarian law, thereby hanging the state’s gun owners out to dry.

The firestorm of criticism that rained down on the two retailers who attempted to sell the Armatix wasn’t lost on other potential sellers of the gun. And smart gun development has largely stagnated as a result.

Senator Weinberg, however, loves her law and remained blind/willfully ignorant of its unintended consequences. Her law had become a poison pill, killing off chances to bring a smart gun to market.

In the years since, she’s taken every opportunity to deflect blame for the fact that no one can buy a smart gun in the US by blaming…wait for it…the NRA, every gun-hater’s boogie man of choice.

But the fact is, despite anything you may read in the media, neither the NRA or any other responsible pro-gun organization — let alone most gun owners — is opposed to someone developing and selling a smart gun. What they do oppose is legal mandates.

I don’t want to buy a smart gun and you may not want one either. But if someone decides that a smart gun the firearm that fits his or her needs best, more power to them.

As time went on, though, all of Weinberg’s deflecting and blame shifting has lost all credibility. Even she had to admit the damage her law had done. NPR recognized the effects of the New Jersey law in keeping smart guns off the market.

Even the main sponsor of New Jersey’s smart gun law is now having second thoughts. Loretta Weinberg concedes that the law’s mandate has become an impediment to the development of smart guns.

“That’s the exact opposite of what we really intended to do,” Weinberg says. “If I’m willing to say, well, maybe we made a mistake here; we need to remove this — then I would expect that those who think we made a mistake will join in to say, hey, you’re right, and now let’s see the marketplace move ahead.”

That was back in 2014 and not a thing has changed in New Jersey since then. But as nj.com reports, the Garden State legislature is considering changing that.

Democrats say that law — which requires that only personalized handguns be offered for sale in New Jersey three years after they’re on the market in the U.S. — actually stifled the development and delayed the sale of so-called childproof handguns.

They want to repeal the law and replace it with one that would require every retailer offer at least one personalized handgun model for sale. This, they hope, will shake loose the research and development they say was stymied by gun rights advocates who didn’t want to start New Jersey’s three-year clock.

The Democratic-controlled state Legislature tried this twice while Republican Chris Christie was governor. He vetoed it both times, saying in 2016 that it “is reflective of the relentless campaign by the Democratic legislature to make New Jersey as inhospitable as possible to lawful gun ownership and sales.”

But with Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy vowing to sign every gun control measure vetoed by his Republican predecessor, the Legislature is moving on the bill again.

Still a mandate, but one that leaves consumers a choice — buy a traditional firearm or a “smart gun” if they so choose. And the bill doesn’t say how many smart guns a retailer has to carry, only that they have to offer one.

If the Great New Jersey Wall finally falls and retailers no longer risk triggering a poison pill law, more R&D dollars will likely flow into smart gun development. If stores then choose to carry one that finally proves itself reliable enough to reach retailers, then the market can decide if it’s worthy of being bought by consumers.

But if you’re thinking that government has learned its lesson and will stay out of decisions regarding what guns Americans can’t and can’t buy, think again.

 

 

comments

  1. avatar Phil Wilson says:

    Well of course. If heavy-handed authoritarianism doesn’t work, the obvious answer is more heavy-handed authoritarianism. For leftists, that’s always the answer.

    1. avatar Thomas says:

      “That’s the exact opposite of what we really intended to do,” Weinberg says.

      One sentence that effectively summarizes the entire Democratic platform’s results verses stated intent.

      However, the decision makers at the top of the democratic party (and their progressive allies), know exactly how to destroy a country from with-in.

      1. avatar Bob Jones says:

        Like Obamacare. Intended to help poor people get medical care but has instead created an opioid crisis that kills about twice as many Americans as firearms, including suicides.

        Progressive ideas are rarely workable until years of careful study & testing of what they really do and who they really affect. Ramming half baked legislation through the system always fails in the end.

        1. avatar Nickname says:

          I’m not to sure I see the connection between Obama Care and unintentional overdoses due to heroin being cut with fentanyl analogs. The vast majority of OD fatalities. Can you help me out here?

        2. avatar Someone says:

          I don’t know much about drug abuse increase, but Obamacare does have unintended consequences – some guys, who couldn’t afford health insurance before still can’t afford it, but now they have to pay a fine for not buying it. Great help to poor families!

        3. avatar Ardent says:

          Obama care is an utter disaster in so many ways, but it has litterally no bearing on the opioid issue, just none.

    2. avatar jakee308 says:

      Since leftist gun grabbers can’t be trusted, what would prevent them from later after a smart gun has passed the tests and is being sold banning all other guns.

      Wait for the research and sales and then ban all others. Seems like a likely thing to do for gun grabbers. They love incrementalism and too many “sport” gunners fall for it every damn time.
      I wouldn’t trust an electronically locked gun unless it had been tested under real life circumstances at least for a year and even then I’d have doubts.
      Let’s mandate that the New Jersey State Troopers (sorry guys/gals) use them first for a year.

  2. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

    Earth to NJ Communists,working reliable smart guns are still but a pipe dream,so Eff Off.

  3. avatar D.T.O.M. says:

    “..If the Great New Jersey Wall finally falls and retailers no longer risk triggering a poison pill law, more R&D dollars will likely flow into smart gun development…”

    Wow TTAG writer Dan Zimmerman, you just moved the Trojan Horse inside Troy! Congrats, and may I also sell you a couple of pristine bridges in New Jersey as well? Because apparently you are that gullible.

    The minute the first retailer sells the first “smart gun” Weinberg will reintroduce the original bill. Dems will do anything to get their way. Republican’s think there are rules in this fight, the progressive democratic’s know there are none.

    1. Maybe. There’s nothing stopping her from doing that (or any other legislator in any other anti-gun state).

      Eventually, someone WILL sell a smart gun somewhere. Better that the current law is off the books. After the experience of the last 15 years, it would make it harder to re-enact it, even in New Jersey.

      1. avatar D.T.O.M. says:

        My apologizes Dan, my criticism above should have been tempered down a level.

        When you are dealing with a snake (these politicians) that are attempting to bite and poison you, your caution level increases.

        1. avatar Knute(ken) says:

          Good for you! It takes a really big person to admit to an error, esp. in these polarized days. Only maybe one in million can manage it.
          I can understand the caution, for all politicians are snakes to beware of, just as the founders stated, many times over. And not just the democrips and the rebloodlicans either, but all the parties in all the Western countries.
          The error was in the idea of stopping trying to do anything, because evil men will just corrupt it anyway. OFC they will, or rather they will try. But evil men(and women) will ALWAYS be in there pushing for evil, at least until the human race outgrows selfish greed and lust for power. But that time isn’t now.
          So, as I see it, the answer doesn’t lie in attempting to stomp and kill every snake on the planet, but rather in learning their ways until there is no longer much to fear. At that point we can just avoid the danger, kill the venomous one, or just catch it and keep it in a cage for amusement, whichever one we find easier and/or better at the moment.
          There’s a day to look forward to. Mad Maxine and Pelosi, et al, in a cage in the zoo? I’d go to see that. The frantic, desperate, mental retardation would just be funny then. “Ohhh, look at the crazy one over there! She’s trying to cram her size 68 head through a size 6 steel bar! Oh, she’s taking a run at it. Geez, I’ll bet that one hurt…” 🙂

      2. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

        DTOM has a point though. Once bitten, twice shy as Great White used to say (before they killed all their fans). This law may continue to inhibit ‘smart gun’ technology long after it’s off the books.

        1. avatar Knute(ken) says:

          Saw them twice. Once when they opened for Whitesnake, and again, later, as the headliner, when Angel City( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bI931DzfLo ) opened for them.
          They weren’t so loud as Motley Crue, but they caused a little hearing loss too.

        2. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          Whitesnake AND Great White?!? All they needed was White Lion. ‘When duh childwen cwy, wet ’em know we twied…’

  4. avatar WI Patriot says:

    “After Stifling ‘Smart Gun’ Development for More Than a Decade, NJ Considers Requiring Retailers Sell Only One Of Them”

    Only to registered democrats though…

  5. avatar #43 says:

    Really gotta stop letting these people define the terms that they don’t understand or just make up on the fly to fit their viewpoints…

    Here is their definition of what a “personalized handgun” actually is:

    Personalized handgun” means a handgun which incorporates within its design, and as part of its original manufacture, technology which automatically limits its operational use and which cannot be readily deactivated, so that it may only be fired by an authorized or recognized user. The technology limiting the handgun’s operational use may include, but not be limited to: radio frequency tagging, touch memory, remote control, fingerprint, magnetic encoding and other automatic user identification systems utilizing biometric, mechanical or electronic systems. No make or model of a handgun shall be deemed to be a “personalized handgun” unless the Attorney General has determined, through testing or other reasonable means, that the handgun meets any reliability standards that the manufacturer may require for its commercially available handguns that are not personalized or, if the manufacturer has no such reliability standards, the handgun meets the reliability standards generally used in the industry for commercially available handguns.

    Really? Much like the phrase “assault weapon” has no real meaning until they defined it as a bunch of nonsense that doesn’t do squat to protect people. Anything can be an “assault weapon” if it’s used to “assault” something. However, because these control freaks wrote down some bullshit on a piece of paper saying an “assault weapon” is this and that, all of a sudden it’s a law. Get the fuck out of here.

    A personalized handgun can mean what these idiots arbitrarily defined above or, in actual everyday language, a handgun that fits an individuals tastes and preferences.

    No to mention, much like the AWB, these people want a definite list of handguns that are “okay” to sell.

    Language has meaning. We really to need to cease letting these people contort it to their whims and make meaningless laws that can affect real people negatively.

    1. avatar #43 says:

      Please excuse my typos… reading this “New Jersey Childproof Handgun Law” made it impossible to think and act coherently with the number of bullshit clauses in it…

      1. avatar D.T.O.M. says:

        I feel you brother..

  6. avatar NightFox says:

    I can almost guarantee that the final form of the bill will state that the retailers have to have at least one available for sale, and that that will be interpreted by the state to mean it has to be on hand. If that’s the case I’d put money on a leftist engineer building a personalized firearm with a sticker cost of 50k in order to screw over retailers.

    1. avatar Dude says:

      In a “free” country, the governments mandates what a private company must sell. NightFox, I was curious about the wording of the law as well. I think forcing companies to stock one may be seen as overreach even in NJ. Of course the dems and media will be in full propaganda / cover-up mode so people will be glad to “do SOMETHING about guns!”

      1. avatar NightFox says:

        The goal of this isn’t to keep people safe, its to drive gun manufacturers and retailers out of business. So coming up with justifications for mandated stock would be easy for them. “If its not on hand the retailer isn’t actually offering it, they’re only offering to order it.” “If its not on hand then they’re falsely advertising.” “If its not on hand then a nefarious gun owning crazy person will buy a regular gun instead.”

        As far as this being a free country to sell what you please? It hasn’t been that for a long time. Ask that baker who got forced to bake the gay cake. Or ook for a new model car without a seat belts, catalytic converters, reverse cameras, or other mandatory features. All required in the name of public safety. They’ll just bill this as a consumer safety law and eventually mandate ‘smart’ guns once there is a quasi viable design anyways. The fact reliable technology doesn’t exist doesn’t matter; just look at the CA microstamping requirements.

        1. avatar Mark N. says:

          Well, you gotta remember that you have to find a gun, then run off to the chief of police to get a permit to buy it, which can take six months to a year. And after you can buy it, you have to take the gun to the police to register it.

        2. avatar Dude says:

          This would be more like mandating all car dealers to sell Volvos because they’re “safer.” Obviously, car dealers would never stand for this.

      2. avatar Someone says:

        Not as bad as when governments mandates what a private citizen must buy. Like health insurance for example.
        What’s next? Everybody must buy boots with steel toes? It’s for our own safety after all.

      3. avatar Ardent says:

        I’d say you’re onto a real legal challenge to this law. I don’t think there is a direct precedent for requiring a retailer to offer a particular company’s goods, and since, at least for a while there will be only one viable smart gun available from only one company, I’d say this couldn’t pass muster in federal court.

        Expanding on that, requiring a retailer to offer any sort of particular goods doesn’t have much precedent that comes to mind.

        Then there are firearms specific legal concerns…

        And then there are a host of other potential ways of successfully challenging this law…

        I’d have to say that NJ doesn’t have much if a chance with this, baring a dem sweep of the WH and Senate and packing the SC.

    2. avatar UpInArms says:

      Easy enough to fix…

      The retailers agree to only take the gun on consignment. They pay the manufacturer nothing until the gun is actually sold to a customer. Which more or less guarantees it will just collect dust on the shelf unless a rich collector comes by.

  7. avatar Huntmaster says:

    Why do these people spend their whole lives trying to tell other people how to live theirs?

    1. avatar Knute(ken) says:

      Because they have an insatiable lust for power over others. Generally because they are totally out of control in their own evil ways, so they convince themselves that the world would be a perfect place…. if only they were in charge of everything and everybody.
      It’s a mental illness, as evidenced by their failure to recognize the impossibility of that. This shows up massively later, as it always does in socialist Countries. When such ones do get put in complete charge of the power structures in a country, and they realize they still don’t control everybody, then they just turn to destroying everything and everybody else instead.
      It’s the history of socialism.

    2. avatar B.D. says:

      The 1,000 year reich.

    3. avatar Someone says:

      This guy seems to have some idea:
      https://youtu.be/t_LoK4s-2Dw

  8. avatar IAmNotTheHulk says:

    Yeah no “remote-control-capable” dumb gun would ever be hacked….morons.

    1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

      Look what happened when someone tried to hack Judge Dredd’s personalized gun (the original Sylvester Stallone). Turned out to be a bad day for him.

      */sarc*

  9. avatar Ralph says:

    A truly “smart” gun would activate itself, break out of the gun safe, take a train to Trenton and launch suppressive fire at the NJ State House.

  10. avatar OPTOUT says:

    Anyone buying this junk really needs mental help.

  11. avatar D says:

    In this case, the stupidity of Weinberg was a good thing. This is a rare instance. Stupidity in congress is never good.

    We all know how stupid our country’s gun laws are. Keep in min that the idiots that wrote the gun laws also wrote every other law.

    1. avatar Wood says:

      Your last sentence is truly depressing. You are exactly right of course.

  12. avatar Icabod says:

    My daughter gave me her “smart gun safe.” Its the biometric kind that opens with your fingerprint. I keep the keys to the safe close by.
    If one’s fingers are dirty or greasy, the safe won’t open. I wore some surgical gloves thinking that would work. Nope. Rub my fingers on the wall seems to work best. My bedside safe is the old fashion kind.
    One sure way to bring this to a head is to have state Senator Weinberg pass a law mandating all law enforcement weapons will have the smart technology. There. All at once gun manufacturers have a high demand, lucrative market to sell to. Given, this could result in Weinberg being forcibly removed from office but, “If one child’s life…”

  13. avatar Hannibal says:

    They really think we’re stupid, don’t they? One year after a smart gun comes to market and they’ll just switch the law right back.

  14. avatar DesertDave says:

    Hummmm ……

    “But the fact is, despite anything you may read in the media, neither the NRA or any other responsible pro-gun organization — let alone most gun owners — is opposed to someone developing and selling a smart gun. What they do oppose is legal mandates.”

    Not so sure about this statement. Once the snake is out of the bag no telling where it will go. For sure the military and police will not want them because of potential safety issues. It will be the public that gets saddled with this, rest assured. So why even go down that road? Only unknowledgeable potential gun owners would even be interested. Just look at the reception the, what was that the Remington R51 maybe, got with it’s lack of reliability. And that had no electronics that could fail of be hacked.

    The real issue is this however. Once you have an electronic system in a firearm, that system can be used to turn the firearm off by the government or anyone else that has the knowhow. Just like they can hack cars these days. In my opinion that is the real end game here.

  15. avatar jabberwocky says:

    Take it from some one that lives in the god forsaken state of nj. When ever people talk of gun control in states they mention california new york illinois but rarely if ever new jersey unless talking about smart guns. Let me dispell something for anyone here that thinks california new york or illinois is the most draconian law maker. Your all wrong nj is. Anything that involves a gun is a felony. Wanna take your gun to the range and get stopped by a cop and they search your vehicle and find said gun, pray to the gods you first belong to a shooting club that registers with the state police a roster of its members and second you didnt make any stops accept for gas on the way that they can prove. Or hey we cant have magazines that have more then 10 rounds great law abiding citizen goes to police department to turn in “high capacity magazines” when it becomes law. Arrested charged with felony for having “high capacity mags” or go to move them to a reletive out of state again felony the law was written to ensnare you no matter what you tried to do with these “high capacity mags” it even hits off duty cops so pray to your gods that no one has an axe to grind with you and if they do dont carry your duty pistol mags when off the clock. Now the smart gun law i promise you the retailers will be forced to have them in stock in abundance regardless if they sell or not. Also on a side in nj its a felony for me to hand my wife my gun (even if she has her foid card) to protect herself and me if im injured in a home invasion but my 5 yr old i can hand it off no problem. Trust me when i reaffirm every ones fears that this is just theatrics of nj politicians and will in no way benefit anyone in any other state let alone nj.

  16. avatar possum destroyer of arachnids says:

    I don’t want to own a smart gunm. Might give my dumb gunm a complex and lordy knows how gunms suddenly go on a kieling rampage.

  17. avatar LifeSavor says:

    My brother lives in NJ. Arthritis forced early retirement and restricted his movement. It is difficult for him to vet to the range. I was going to gift him with an Airsoft pistol and accessories so that he could practice in his basement, but I found out Airsoft is illegal in NJ. So. I did a little research. Slingshots are illegal, also. So are throwing stars. The good news is that flamethrowers are not illegal and you do not even need a concealed carry permit. Not sure whether he will want to practice in the basement, however.

    1. avatar Someone says:

      You’re right. Flame throwers use is better left for back yard.

      1. avatar LifeSavor says:

        Great idea! He can grill and have target practice at the same time!!

  18. avatar Anymouse says:

    Stalwart 2A defender Canterbury and ATF director nominee is standing up for your right not to have to use smart guns, if your a cop.

    The real reason the Armitix failed it was a lousy gun. The user id could be easily jammed, and magnets could easily defeat the lockout. You’d be paying a $1000+ premium for a feature that didn’t work and was too fragile to have in a caliber greater than .22LR. Make it a $100 premium for an equivalently featured defensive handgun, make the unlock instantaneous on a human time scale and 99.999% accurate on the first try, and people who are concerned with weapons retention or untrained children will buy it. Police might even accept it as a duty gun.
    I want to see a “Man From The South” test first before I’d get one: have a manufacturer’s representative unlock the gun on the first try 10 times in a row, and if he fails even once, one of his fingers gets chopped off. He’s risking a painful, non-life-threatening injury, but a defender pulling a non-functional gun against an assailant with a knife or gun is probably going to die or get seriously wounded.

  19. avatar Will Drider says:

    Total B.S. N.J. politicians can change or totally revoke the smart gun mandate and it won’t make one damn bit of difference on the development of smart guns. N.J. politicians must think gun owners and the gun industries are stupid. If a great, reliable, decent caliber safe gun IS finally created, N.J. would just bring the Law/mandate back to life, Pass it and require only smart guns can be sold in N.J. and probably a time limit to remove non smart guns from the State. Other anti gun States would surely follow that tyrannical lead. Secondly any manufacture that develops/produces a “reliable” smart gun will endure the wrath of the majority of the gun owning public in the U.S.

    Feds even pushed mandatory R&D supporting initiatives for potential LE/Mil use. Universities, silicon vallly nerds and some inventors keep playing with the concept.

    Smart guns are DEAD! Law or no law, gun grabbers have shown their plan of attack mandating them. With their premature and over zealous terminal threat: they shot themselves down in a ball of flames. Well done!!!

  20. avatar jbob says:

    Too late, the damage is done. Smart guns will continue to get the same reception regardless of law changes in NJ because once there’s one available all they have to do is repass the old law

  21. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    “When the last gun business is destroyed. We will destroy them with the guns they made.”
    Chris T in KY
    not Karl Marx, this time.

  22. avatar Bubba says:

    A gun store can ‘offer’ a gun for sale merely by placing a picture of it advertising the product with a price tag.
    They don’t actually have to waste money carrying any stock of it.
    Sure, we’ll sell you this gun if you want it. It’ll take a couple of weeks to order it for you though.

  23. avatar John Galt says:

    I would NEVER use any emergency or bedside safe that had an electronic, biometric or key lock.

    When my kids were young I had a bedside box and one at each door with SIMPLEX locks. No looking for keys, no washing hands, no question who has access.

    The simplex lock is mechanical, fast and not subject to failure.

    Similarly, I would NEVER buy a safe that had a biometric or electronic lock………..built in failure at time of need.

    Additionally, when they start doing the broader red flag raids (and coming after everything they find you own when they pass laws requiring your ffl to turn all 4473’s over to the state for computerization…) they will be able to remotely disable all electronic safes and keep you away from anything you lock up………foolishly……..with anything but mecanical locks.

    Are you identifying your safe, make, model, location to your gun store when you fill out your 4473?

    Well, I am not saying you are foolish, but………….

  24. avatar GS650G says:

    Issue them to NJSP troopers and see how that goes..

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