The media’s love affair with “smart guns” continues, despite the fact that the technology is still not ready for prime time.
ABC News is the latest outlet to promote “smart gun” technology with its new profile of Lodestar Firearms, the Tennessee-based company that had a high profile failure during a product demonstration earlier this year. ABC News politely doesn’t mention that embarrassing incident in its puff piece, choosing instead to promote the supposed benefits of a gun that must be unlocked through a fingerprint reader before it can be used.
Ginger Chandler is the co-founder of LodeStar Works in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She said she believes her company’s smart gun can be a solution to the rising gun-related deaths in the country.
Chandler said the smart gun can only be fired by an authenticated user; in this case, verified by his or her fingerprint.
“What we know is if an unauthorized person picks up that firearm in a time of stress or they’re going to do something quick, they’re not going to be able to do it,” said Chandler.
Chandler said that the three fail-safes – an app, a pin-pad and a fingerprint – manufactured into the smart gun can help combat some of those preventable deaths.
“First, there’s an app on the phone… The other way to unlock it is just a pin-pad on the side,” said Chandler. “And then if you put your fingerprint on that pad.”
If folks want to spend their money to buy a “smart gun,” that should be their choice, but I don’t see the need or utility in a biometric fingerprint reader in a firearm. I just see additional potential points of failure, to be honest.
Then there’s the fact that the gun control lobby has made it clear that their ultimate plans for “smart guns” involve making them the only type of firearm available for sale; plans that have been scaled back in recent years in states like New Jersey, which changed its “smart gun” law a couple of years ago to require gun stores to offer “smart guns” for sale (an earlier version of the law mandated that all non-“smart guns” must be pulled from store shelves once a “smart gun” was introduced on the civilian market). Backers of the technology like Ginger Chandler may want to focus on the supposed safety features of the firearm, but it’s impossible to ignore the political implications that come with the development of this technology.
Interestingly, the one note of skepticism about “smart guns” in the ABC News piece came, not from a Second Amendment advocate or another gun maker, but from gun control fan Daniel Webster from the Bloomberg School of Public Heath at Johns Hopkins University, who told the network that it’s “not realistic” to think that these guns will reduce homicides even if the technology proves effective.
And the technology is definitely still in doubt. In fact, Lodestar Firearms still isn’t offering its product for sale despite the recent media attention. Interestingly, five years ago this site covered Lodestar’s CEO calling “smart guns” the wave of the future and predicting that their gun would soon be available in stores.
NBC 10 in Philadelphia stated, “[Glaser] said Lodestar plans to bring a smart gun to market by the summer of 2019. He expects the handgun to cost about 20 percent more than its common counterpart: roughly $750.”
Here we are in the summer of 2022 and Lodestar Firearms is telling visitors to their website to sign up to be notified when its LS9 pistol is available for sale, with no time estimate offered. There’s also no price point mentioned on the company’s website, but back in January CEO Gareth Glaser told The Hill that he anticipated the 9mm pistol would be available for sale “toward the end of this year” at a cost of $895.
We’ll see if that prediction comes true, or if the introduction of the LS9 will be pushed back to 2023 or beyond. I’m not holding my breath that Lodestar or other “smart gun” companies like SmartGunz (which is promising to deliver a 1911-style pistol using RFID technology to lock out unauthorized users at the low, low price of $2,195 in Q3 of this year) will actually start shipping product this year, or that there’ll be much of a market for the pistols if and when they are available for purchase. I will make one prediction, however: the media, which has been eagerly echoing the Democrats’ demonization of the firearms industry, will be lavishing praise on companies like Lodestar no matter how well the technology works in the real world or how paltry the demand for “smart guns” among new and existing firearm owners.