Criminal Justice

Smart guns worry firearms advocates, intrigue lawmakers

The country’s first smart gun is on sale at just one gun shop—the Oak Tree Gun Club near Los Angeles.

Shop owner James Mitchell says the gun, the Armatix iP1, could revolutionize the gun industry, the Washington Post reports. The gun fires only when it is close to the watch that is sold with it. The price tag for both the gun and the watch is about $1,800.

Introduction of the gun “is seen as a landmark in efforts to reduce gun violence, suicides and accidental shootings,” the story says. “But gun rights advocates are already balking, wondering what happens if the technology fails just as an intruder breaks in.”

Other companies are also developing smart guns. A gun made by Irish company TriggerSmart uses a ring to make the gun work. Also in development are guns that unlock with voice technology or fingerprints. Meanwhile, the New Jersey Institute of Technology is working on a gun that recognizes users’ grips.

The story reports that lawmakers have been “intrigued by the possibilities” surrounding smart guns. A New Jersey law passed in 2002 mandates that only smart guns be sold in the state, but allows three years to pass after a smart gun sale anywhere in the country before the law kicks in.

The California Senate passed a similar bill last year, while U.S. Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass., has introduced a federal bill with a smart phone mandate.

Among the groups expressing concern is the Violence Policy Center, which seeks to reduce gun violence. The group is fearful that the technology will lead to a false sense of security and increase the number of gun owners. The Policy Center points out that most homicides occur between acquaintances, and the new guns will do nothing to reduce those slayings.

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