No, New Jersey Does Not Need To Embrace Smart Gun Technology

New Jersey State Senator Loretta Weinberg thinks she knows how to prevent accidents with firearms, but it’s nothing new to Second Amendment advocates. You see, Weinberg recently took pen in hand to advocate for so-called “smart gun” technology. She feels that it’s time for New Jersey to embrace new technology that will do so many wonderful things.

We cannot continue to view these tragedies as inevitable occurrences in a country with some of the brightest minds in research, development and innovation – and thankfully there are experts and advocates who are continuing the effort to advance smart gun technology, which prevents an unauthorized user from operating a handgun, and their work is showing promising results.

I recently joined a distinguished group of law enforcement, firearms trainers, health researchers, smart gun innovators, investors, advocates and elected officials at the “Law Enforcement and Smart Guns Symposium” in Washington, D.C.

Attendees who traveled from nine states, Germany and Brazil, heard from a cross section of experts, including an all-star panel consisting of  former U.S. Border Control Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske, Mark Plazinski, of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, Mike Farrell, CEO of Smart Firearms and Ernst Mauch, a leading smart gun developer, among others, who discussed the challenges involved with this burgeoning technology and the next steps forward in the effort to ultimately bring it to consumers.

The interest we are seeing now is notable, since resistance to smart gun technology driven by the National Rifle Association has unfortunately hindered many opportunities for thoughtful discussions on this issue and slowed the process of advancing the technology.

New Jersey became the first state in the nation to enact a law that mandated the use of smart-gun technology, and required that all handguns sold in the state be child-proof, once the technology became available and approved by the state. When it appeared the mandate could possibly be triggered, gun proponents pushed back and threatened store owners in Maryland and California – ultimately leading them to back off of selling the firearms.

I’ll spare you from the rest. Long story short, smart guns are going to make guns perfectly safe and all that jazz and she’s going to make sure it happens.

For Sen. Weinberg, here is a question worth answering first.

Who will be responsible if someone tries to use a smart gun to defend themselves but can’t because the technology failed?

Technology is weird. A web page will load screwy one moment, then a reload and it’s fine. Your computer starts acting up when you boot it up in the morning, so you restart it and all is well. Your cable goes out for no discernable reason.

There are a plethora of examples just like that. However, those are, at worst, annoying. They tend not to cost someone their lives. Firearms aren’t like that. They have to work. Period.

By adding a layer of electronics, you have not added a layer of failure in a device that already needs multiple components to work properly in order to function as designed.

The revolver has been around since the middle of the 19th century, roughly. The semiautomatic firearm has been around for a bit over a century itself. These technologies have been around long enough that we’ve worked out the bugs. Gun designers understand what works and what doesn’t, as a general rule, so they tend to develop guns that function properly.

Guns that don’t function properly, however, lose on the open market. Guys like me at magazines and gun websites get their hands on them, shoot them, then report that the guns jam up something horrible, then other people decide not to buy them.

However, Sen. Weinberg, your proposal doesn’t give anyone any opportunity for that. They’ll be required to use fallible technology regardless of their own desires because someone who doesn’t know anything about guns–that would be you, Sen. Weinstein–has been convinced that this is the greatest thing ever.

Further, this proposal will also drive up the costs of firearms in the state of New Jersey. This will price them out of the hands of poor people who often live in rough neighborhoods and need guns to protect themselves and their families. I’m sure the fact that these also tend to be disproportionately minorities is irrelevant to Sen. Weinberg, right?

I can’t speak for the National Rifle Association, but for myself, I oppose these regulations not because I don’t want to see the technology work–it would be awesome if it did if only because my weapon can’t be used against me by an intruder or attacker–but because I recognize that it simply doesn’t at this point. I take issue with these regulations because it’s not a politician’s place to tell me what kind of technology my firearm should possess.

Frankly, Sen. Weinberg, if you want to make New Jersey safer, then why not work to remove the backward ban on hollow point ammunition, a design that has been around for decades and is widely known to reduce overpenetration, which makes it safer for bystanders in the unfortunate event of a shooting?

Don’t talk to me about the importance of some new, unproven technology when you and your cohorts in New Jersey are still pretending a viable, proven technology legal throughout the nation is akin to a nuclear-tipped pistol round.