Gun control activists from Michael Bloomberg to Joe Biden have been demanding the introduction of “smart guns” into the civilian market for years now, but the technology has proven to be much easier to use in concept than in the real world. That might change now that Kansas-based firearms manufacturer SmartGunz has announced the release of a 1911-style 9mm “smart gun” later this year.
The SmartGunz 9mm Sentry uses an RFID chip which is contained in a glove that must be worn by the shooter in order for the gun to fire. In order to use the pistol, the operator not only has to wear the special glove, but must depress a “safety activation switch” before the gun is ready, which the company says “ensures each SmartGunz firearm fires each and every time when it is supposed to AND ONLY when it is supposed to fire.”
I have nothing against “smart guns” in theory, but I’m absolutely opposed to any mandate that would require all non-smart guns to be pulled from store shelves, which is actually what Joe Biden has proposed. From Biden’s campaign website:
- Put America on the path to ensuring that 100% of firearms sold in America are smart guns. Today, we have the technology to allow only authorized users to fire a gun. For example, existing smart gun technology requires a fingerprint match before use. Biden believes we should work to eventually require that 100% of firearms sold in the U.S. are smart guns. But, right now the NRA and gun manufacturers are bullying firearms dealers who try to sell these guns. Biden will stand up against these bullying tactics and issue a call to action for gun manufacturers, dealers, and other public and private entities to take steps to accelerate our transition to smart guns.
Nobody’s bullying firearms dealers who try to sell these guns, because these guns haven’t gone to market. The only previous “smart gun” that was offered for sale was the Armatix iP1 pistol, a .22-caliber handgun that also used RFID technology to unlock the gun before use. Given the high price tag and the fact that the gun was apparently able to be “hacked” with just a few simple magnets, there are good reasons why the iP1 never caught on.
The new SmartGunz pistol is also going to be pricey, with a suggested retail cost of $2,495. The cost alone is going to make the pistol a non-starter for many gun owners, but there are also plenty of folks like me who just don’t see that the supposed benefits of a so-called smart gun outweigh the potential drawbacks.
Adding any additional steps to make the firearm functional also adds additional potential points of failure for the firearm. What happens if you can’t find your glove as someone’s breaking into your home? What happens if you need to use your off-hand to hold the gun or become incapacitated and need someone else in the household to use the gun in self-defense? What happens if the battery fails when you actually need to use your firearm in self-defense?
Guns can already jam or misfire, but a so-called smart gun adds even more potential problems to the mix. Again, I’m not opposed to the idea in theory, though I wonder how the release of the SmartGunz pistol is going to go over in New Jersey, where every gun store in the state may be required to keep the gun in stock once it’s released to the public.
If someone wants to spend $2,500 on a smart gun, more power to them. Personally, I don’t see that the benefit outweighs the cost or the potential problems, but that doesn’t mean that I think no one should be able to purchase one if it comes to market.
Biden’s idea to mandate smart gun ownership, on the other hand, is a non-starter. It’s my body that’s being protected, and it’s my choice on how to protect it. I don’t want a smart gun, I don’t need a smart gun, and I won’t abide by any demand that I give up my “dumb guns” and replace them with a Biden-approved model.