Repealing Smart Gun Law Won’t Change Attitudes

Smart GunThree words: it won’t matter.

Chris Hayes did a great sequence on All In about Smart Guns. These are the guns that only allow authorized people to use them. This is done with a little wristwatch that is worn on the same arm as you shoot with. This is necessary because the “watch” much be within ten inches of the gun. This is a big deal because hundreds of kids are accidentally shot and killed each year. It would also make stolen guns much less useful. So it’s a win-win.

But of course, there are those who don’t like it. Some claim that the system is not perfect and it might not shoot when you need it. This is a totally ridiculous complaint. The same can be said for any gun. Things go wrong with guns. They jam, for example. So this complaint is just from people who are against any advancement.

But as Hayes points out, there is actually a substantive reason that the gun rights crowd is against these guns. New Jersey has a law that says that if Smart Guns go on sale anywhere in the United States, the gun dealers in New Jersey must convert their inventories to Smart Guns within three years. Outside of gun rights, that strikes me as an onerous regulation. In three years, it is unlikely that many manufactures will be making Smart Guns—so it would greatly limit consumer choice. Also: the Smart Guns are very expensive and I doubt that will be much changed in three years.

Hayes says that he would be in favor of repealing the law to get Smart Guns on the market. And he had a New Jersey legislator on his show who said the same thing. But there’s a problem and that’s where we get to my three words: it won’t matter.

Even after the law is repealed, the gun rights crowd will do at least two things. First, they will grab onto the “we can’t be sure these guns will always work” argument. Second, they will claim that even though New Jersey repealed its law, it could always pass another. And any number of other states could do the same. So the Smart Guns will be seen as a Trojan horse. And they doubtless will come up with other reasons why the Smart Guns are the Son of Satan.

The truth is that gun owners are not especially crazy. But they see themselves as an oppressed minority. So it takes very little for them to get worked up. One or two opinion leaders decide that Smart Guns are the biggest threat to gun rights since serial numbers and suddenly they all believe it. (Can you imagine the reaction if the government proposed serial numbers as a new thing today?) But this is how bad it’s gotten. Now we don’t even argue over gun laws. Now new gun technologies have to be pre-approved by the gun rights brigade. It’s shameful. They’ve pathetic. And I weep for the steep downward trend of this country.


I know I said I stopped watching MSNBC. And mostly I have. But I do check back in occasionally, especially if I hear they are going to do something interesting. And I was really interested in this.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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