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“60 Minutes” Takes on Smart Guns

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“60 Minutes” Takes on Smart Guns

“Firearms are safe. The firearms manufacturers include appropriate locking devices for their guns along with them when they’re shipped. They may be low-tech, but they work.”

As the gun debate argument circles round and round, the topic of so-called smart guns comes up as if on a regular cycle. Recently, CBS’s “60 Minutes” took on the subject , interviewing the Chief of Police in San Francisco—a city that has enacted several and controversial strict gun laws recently—and citing the effectiveness of the technology in a James Bond movie from three years ago.

The same, familiar questions are asked: if the fingerprint recognition technology works well enough to unlock your smartphone, why not have it on your gun? It could be a good idea, in theory: a gun that can only be fired by the person who owns it. Assuming a gun can be programmed to be used by multiple members of a family in a home defense situation and it functions flawlessly every single time, then it seems a viable idea.

Engineers have been working on smart gun development for years, coming at the problem from different angles. Some utilize fingerprint recognition, others have tech that can recognize the squeeze of your grip, or unlock wirelessly using an RFID device embedded in a watch or ring when it gets close enough, as the story says.

“Smart guns could curtail the number of suicides, and cut down on the resale of stolen guns; estimated to be 230,000 every year. What good is a gun no one but the owner can fire? And they would help on-duty cops,” the interviewer, Lesley Stahl, states.

However, as we’ve reported in the past, the availability of firearms doesn’t impact suicide rates. Individuals commit suicide whether guns are around or not, in one way or another.

As for smart guns being basically useless on the street if they’re stolen, true, they’d be useless immediately after being stolen, but if smart phones can be hacked, it wouldn’t be long before the smart gun tech could be hacked, and the fact that it is a smart gun may cause people to be more lax about locking it up safely. l

The story poses the question of why, if at least half a dozen smart guns are in development, has no major gun manufacturer begun making one?

Stahl posits that it’s because no company would willingly incur the wrath of the gun community, citing the case of Maryland gun dealer Engage Armament, which once announced it would sell the German-made Armatix iP1 smart pistol.

Andy Raymond, co-owner of Engage Armament, said he thought the people who’d be interested in such a gun would be the “fence sitters, people who aren’t normally into guns and don’t normally want one. You know, ‘Eh, I’m too afraid’ or whatever.”

The day he announced the store would be carrying the gun, they were flooded with angry emails and calls including death threats. He stayed up in his gun shop all night to guard it.

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