Media Matters Lies While Trying To Defend Smart Guns. Again.

Timmy Johnson of Media Matters is desperate to get some traction for Barack Obama’s dead-on-arrival “smart gun” push, and is more than willing to lie to support the effort.


During the May 3 broadcast of Fox Business’ Varney & Co., host Stuart Varney and Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich offered a litany of falsehoods to attack the Obama administration’s announcement:

  1. Varney opened the segment by claiming Obama “might use executive orders to push for smart guns.”In fact, Obama’s announcement was an update on his administration’s January announcement of executive actions, not orders. Conservative media frequently mislabel executive actions — where, in this case, federal agencies are operating within their respective purviews to help expedite the development of technology – by terming them executive orders in an attempt to make claims about supposed Obama administration overreach.
  2. Calling smart guns “actually very dumb,” Pavlich claimed that “there are a lot of federal law enforcement agencies, and local police departments, and sheriff’s departments that are pushing back.”First, several federal executive departments that administer law enforcement agencies – DOJ, DOD, and DHS — are involved in carrying out the administration’s plan, not opposing it.There has been only one high-profile law enforcement group that has been outspoken on Obama’s plan, and that group has a major conflict of interest. The head of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), Jim Pasco, was quoted in several news outlets criticizing Obama’s plan, without the disclosure that the FOP’s charity has received large amounts of money from the National Shooting Sporting Foundation, a gun industry trade group that often attacks smart gun technology. A 2010 investigation by The Washington Post identified several instances where the interests of clients at Pasco’s lobbying businessaligned with positions subsequently taken by FOP.
  3. Pavlich claimed that “smart gun technology has been on the market for years now.”While smart gun technology has been in development for years, smart guns are not yet available for purchase by the general public in America, except for in rare instances. This is because gun dealerslargely refuse to stock the first market-ready smart gun, the Armatix iP1, a semi-automatic handgun that uses radio-frequency identification technology. In 2014, a Maryland gun dealer was the subject ofdeath threats and harassment from gun rights activists after the dealer announced his intention to sell the iP1. He later canceled his plan to sell the firearm. A similar incident occurred in California when a gun store attempted to sell the iP1.
  4. Pavlich claimed smart gun technology is “not reliable” and “when you’re talking about a life-or-death self-defense situation, people just aren’t going to go there and risk it with the smart gun technology.”Pavlich’s claim echoes a frequent attack from the National Rifle Association, which often makes false claims about the reliability of smart gun technology. Smart guns have to meet certain reliability benchmarks to be sold. For example, to be sold in California, the iP1 had to be able to fire 600 rounds with a malfunction rate of less than 1 percent.

Unlike Timmy Johnson, I actually know and use firearms on a regular basis, and I’m intimately familiar with the design of the Armatix ip1/iW1 combo.

I’ll gladly concede the first point, of Varney confusing executive orders and executive branch actions. My Townhall colleague Katie Pavlich—herself a highly trained shooter—is entirely right, and Johnson is being misleading on the rest of these points.

Let’s go over them one by one.

Obama did order the DHS, DOD, and DOJ to participate in his smart guns push. They did so because they were ordered to do so. I’m in touch with actual firearms experts within these organizations. None of those I’ve spoken with want smart guns that Obama and his appointees are pushing. Johnson is being incredibly misleading.

Media Matters is also lying when he claims that the NRA and NSSF oppose smart gun research. All either organization opposes in making smart guns mandatory and the only option for consumers. This is a legitimate concern, as New Jersey Democrats have already passed a law mandating a a transition to smart guns in their state.

Pavlich is also correct in noting various iterations of smart gun tech have been on the market for decades, and that officers don’t want them. The Magna-Trigger has been around since 1975.

Pavlich is also correct that the iP1 is grossly unreliable. The iP1’s electronics are so fragile that they cannot handle ANY of the defensive handgun calibers (9mm and up), and is only available in .22LR, a round not suitable for self defense. The gun fails ONE HUNDRED PERCENT OF THE TIME when doing strong had to weak hand transitions (most law enforcement organizations, including the FBI, require this transition during basic qualifications).


There are no commercially viable smart handguns either on the market or in development. The military doesn’t want smart guns. Law enforcement doesn’t want smart guns. Civilians don’t want to pay $1,800 for a gun that is far less reliable and powerful than their $500 guns.

Quite literally, the only people who want smart guns are those who hate guns in the first place and will not buy them.

This is an evolutionary dead end.

Sorry, Timmy.

Note: The facts I noted above were posted to Johnston’s post at Media Matters. It was immediately deleted.

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