Home Smart Guns Chris Murphy’s ‘Smart Gun’ Bill Misses the Mark

Chris Murphy’s ‘Smart Gun’ Bill Misses the Mark

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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By Larry Keane

Anti-gun politicians in the 116th Congress have no shortage of ideas when it comes to different ways of threatening the constitutional rights of law-abiding gun owners in America. The misnomer phrase “common sense gun safety” includes misguided and ineffective policies such as requiring background checks to purchase ammunition or requiring so-called “smart gun” technology despite the slew of unanswered questions that experts have posed about the reliability of the unproven technology.

Of course, this hasn’t stopped lawmakers like U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) from introducing legislation that positions the government to take an outsized role in mandating the use of smart gun technology.

“Authorized user recognition” technology, commonly referred to as smart gun technology, refers to the concept wherein a firearm would be able to recognize an authorized user, and be limited to firing only when operated by an authorized user as identified by a fingerprint or RFID signal.

No Limit on Bad ideas

Poorly-planned ideas even got traction on the campaign trail when presidential candidate Joe Biden claimed, “If I get elected president of the United States of America with your help, if that happens, guns, we have the capacity now in a James Bond-style to make sure no one can pull a trigger unless their DNA and fingerprint is on it. We have that capacity to do it now. You know it.”

The Start Advancing Firearms Enhancements and Technology (SAFETY) Act, S. 1884, according to Senator Murphy’s press release, is designed to both provide tax incentives to firearm manufacturers who invest more in smart gun development and provide incentives to consumers to buy smart guns by reducing the firearm excise tax amount on guns that meet his definition.

Senator Murphy’s press release goes on to claim that “the firearm industry and responsible gun owners should already be embracing these kinds of innovations,” but in truth, gun manufacturers have actually been researching smart gun technology since its first emergence in the 1990s. Measurable demand from consumers, however, has never materialized. Instead, gun buyers in general and law enforcement in particular have expressed deep suspicion toward devices that interfere with the straightforward and reliable operation of a firearm.

Lack of Consumer Demand

Most recently, researchers at Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research found that while almost 50 percent of gun owners have heard of smart guns, just 5 percent of the respondents would even consider buying a smart gun. It defies the principles of the free market for Congress to push American businesses into manufacturing a product that consumers aren’t interested in purchasing.

First and foremost, there are significant concerns about the reliability of a smart gun, especially if the battery that powers the technology runs out of power. In one scenario, when the battery fails, the firearm would revert to a default mode where it can be fired by anyone, not just the authorized user. In this case, not only is the entire point of the technology defeated but it would also expose the manufacturer to serious lawsuits for a defective product.

The second potential scenario is if the battery fails and the firearm ceases to operate, even if the authorized user is holding it. In a life-threatening situation where someone is defending themselves or their family, the potential for a smart gun to fail in this manner is simply unacceptable.

Finally, as many of us may have experienced with our smartphones, fingerprint or other smart ID technology is not perfect and can often not work properly on the first try. In a life-threatening scenario, arming yourself with a smart gun is untenable unless you know that the technology will work 100 percent of the time, every time. At this point in time, we know that the standard is not even close to being met.

Path to Mandates

It is ironic that when talking about this bill, Senator Murphy said it is meant to “harness the power of American innovation,” but that sentiment is already shared by those in the firearms industry. NSSF thoroughly believes the free market should be allowed to function. If there is sufficient consumer demand, and the technological challenges to making a safe and reliable product are overcome, then it will come to market.

NSSF, however, strongly opposes any government mandate that requires smart guns to be sold in lieu of a traditional firearm. Mandates like these have already been seen across the country and are the inevitable end goal of legislators like Senator Murphy. When it comes to the Second Amendment and the right to defend yourself, Americans simply cannot be forced by the government to rely on faulty devices that may or may not work when needed the most.

Lastly, it is important to keep in mind that all firearms, when not in use, should be securely stored to prevent unauthorized access. Every firearm ever made is capable of being secured from unauthorized use by a responsible firearms owner.


Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel at National Shooting Sports Foundation.

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  1. That picture of Murphy’s mouth makes Buttiegieg jealous. And possibly other feelz as well.

    • Jury’s still out on Butt-i-whatever, but I’m reasonably certain Chris Murphy is merely an alien pod’s temporary human simulacrum. Something’s really off about that guy.

      • The unnatural combination of dead-eye-stare and swing-hinged open mouth, for one. Reminds me of the aliens in the (original) TV series ‘V’.

  2. These people are proving the reason for the 2nd whether they know it or not. That point should introduced to the public.

  3. When the cops use so called smart guns, then maybe. I won’t hold my breath.
    Make ’em in rainbow colors just for the damnocrats and the whatevers in hollywierd.

    • Cops? Don’t forget the military, especially those operators operating operationally, and all the three-letter agencies.

  4. If the Supreme Court court can rule the government can require you to purchase health insurance against your will, they can logically rule that you can be mandated to only purchase a ‘smart gun’ that law enforcement (and criminals, by default) can disable remotely. (For officer ‘safety’, don’t you know…)

    • No, the supreme court ruled that my taxes don’t have to go to pay for lazy freeloaders who don’t have insurance so they go to the emergency room for every stubbed toe and expect to be treated.
      Tell you what, let’s go back to the good old days, when if you couldn’t pay they tossed you out and let you die on the street.
      But then who would be left to comment here?

      • The SC ruled nothing of the kind. It said it’s not unconstitutional for a government to fine you for not buying a service. Nothing about your taxes supporting healthcare providers.

  5. Perhaps the law should require all police and especially congressional and other politician security require smart guns. And only then, after several years of proof of concept and proof of confidence, should the public be brought in (voluntarily). And the proof period should include all celebrities and gun advocates.

  6. If this technology is so reliable, infallible, and cost effective, why hasn’t the automotive industry installed it in vehicles? Space, weight, and complexity is a lot less of an issue with car than a firearm.

  7. We will continue to descend into the wasteland of arbitrary infringements until those Patriots who revere our Constitution and the principles derived from the Federalist-Anti-federalist papers, realize that the modern democrats (yes, that means all registered democrat voters) are THE domestic enemies our Founders warned us about. Only then can a coordinated, nationwide effort to eliminate these anti-American, democrat terrorists begin. Our Founding Father’s left us the tools, and their example to follow, as a roadmap for eliminating those who pose an existential threat to our Constitutional Republic. The time to fulfill our historical legacy is upon us. “If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, so my child may know peace” TP

    • The time is coming. All things ripen in their season. Civilizations always rise and fall in the same way:
      IMO, we are currently at stage 1. Gathering enough spiritual power to get to the courage to act. When that happens liberty follows automatically, since it isn’t possible to enslave one of courage. Such a one would much rather die fighting.
      And abundance automatically follows liberty, because when one is free to keep the fruits of his own labor, instead of having it stolen by some ‘grand poobah’ or another, humans become vastly productive. It’s what built the US in the first place, but our ancestors allowed the abundance of liberty to lead them back around into apathy and bondage again. But I don’t think that has be automatic, as courage, liberty, and abundance are.

  8. He’s lying about the size of that Bass.

    • I don’t think he’s talking fish. More like – “I can fit this big … in my mouth!”

  9. Smart guns: the most in-demand category of guns among people who would never, ever, buy a gun off any kind.

    • No that title is held by guns with the firing pin serial number stamp…
      That’s all this is, it worked in ca to ban all new handguns..

  10. I think we need a contest to “caption this photo” of U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)

    Here’s my entry: “My mouth is so large, it can fit a cock this big!”

  11. As a de facto prisoner in the state of delusion, BKA Connecticut, I’d like to offer my sincerest apology for the behavior of my state’s Senators.

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