While in a meeting with people inside the video game industry, Vice President Joe Biden reportedly suggested the idea of “smart gun” technology that doesn’t allow anyone to fire it but the owner. Smart gun tech has been fought by the pro-gun lobby for many reasons; from privacy issues to what they see as over regulation on the firearm industry.
Smart guns come in a few forms. Biometrics are one variation; they have a fingerprint key on the trigger. Another more readily available form is a magnetic ring — the trigger has a magnetic block that doesn’t allow it to be pulled back unless you are wearing the matching ring for the gun. That system usually has an override function as well; once the ring is ready to fire (wearing the right ring) you can disable the ring function, allowing anyone to fire. The New Jersey Institute of Technology is also working on a Dynamic Grip Recognition technology, which would track the owner’s hand size, strength and grip style. There are others developing the same technology, but the New Jersey Institute of Technology is the only one that currently boasts a 90% recognition rate or higher.
Gun lobbies are fighting things like this because they supposedly violate “privacy” (in the case of another related technology–one that would put a permanent micro-chip in your finger–this might be true) or because they simply dislike regulations. In light of the recent mass shootings, however, it would seem that there is not nearly enough regulation.
An assault weapons ban is also very likely to be suggested by Biden, and the Obama administration has already declared support for such a ban. Opposition to such a a ban will be strong, though.
As Huffington Post reports:
Friday’s meeting comes a day after the National Rifle Association rejected Obama administration proposals to limit high-capacity ammunition magazines and dug in on its opposition to an assault weapons ban, which Obama has previously said he will propose to Congress. The NRA was one of the pro-gun rights groups that met with Biden during the day.
NRA president David Keene, asked Friday if the NRA has enough support in Congress to fend off legislation to ban sales of assault weapons, indicated it does. “I do not think that there’s going to be a ban on so-called assault weapons passed by the Congress,” he said on NBC’s “Today.”
Gun advocates point to the FBI statistics for rifle kills in 2011 as evidence that such a ban was pointless — after all, there were “only” 323 murders committed with rifles. They’re failing to see the point, though. In a normal murder (it’s sad this term exists and makes sense), most people aren’t going to go for the semi-automatic assault rifle as a weapon of choice. Indeed, they’ll grab a bat, or a hammer, or a knife or — in over half of all murders in 2011 — a handgun. The issue is the killings that are done with assault rifles, because it has the potential to injure or kill multiple people at once (rather than being restricted to one at a time), as we tragically saw in Newtown.
It really shouldn’t be a yes/no decision when discussing limiting access to high-powered firearms, whether it be through a ban or better technology. We need to decide how to do it.
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