As our leaders begin the uncertain political debate over gun control, there is a simple and straightforward policy solution right now that would uphold gun owners’ 2nd amendment rights and still keep our kids safer.
It’s called “smart gun technology.”
The system is similar to “smart technology” already in use for things like cars, Iphones, and security doors. A computer microchip measures the biometric details of the person attempting to use the product or gain access. If the details match the rightful owner, the device is “enabled.” If the details don’t match, the device will not work or open.
Smart gun technology has been around for years. CBS News profiled a New Jersey institute that was perfecting it in 2009.
Science Daily had a story about the emerging technology back in 2005,
The most reliable smart gun technology involves a grip recognition system. There are 16 digital sensor chips embedded in the handle. The computerized sensors capture the unique pattern and pressure of your grip, plus the specific size of your hand. If someone else tries to use the gun, the information will not match the stored pattern of the gun owner’s — and the weapon will not fire.
As I discussed in the first hour of my weekend radio show Take Action News (free podcast click here)
this technology, as well as similar versions involving fingerprint recognition, could be embedded in guns today. But for years, the National Rifle Association has blocked these efforts, in part because they would make guns costlier to produce and purchase.
The NRA has also insisted that insisted that smart gun technology is a type of restriction that would infringe upon the 2nd amendment. Constitutional experts say that argument is absurd and would get bounced out of a court in a heartbeat. The constitution allows for all kinds of product regulations. And it was the lack of political will, not a court ruling, that caused the ban on assault weapons to lapse during the Bush administration and not be renewed.
The best argument against smart gun technology is a logistical one. It could prevent a homeowner who wrestles away an intruder’s gun from firing it back at them.
I think we can agree, however, that such McGyver like situations are exceedingly rare. And the fact is, a large percentage of guns used in home invasions, robberies, and mass shootings are weapons that have been stolen.
Furthermore, smart gun technology allows for multiple biometric “identities” to be stored in one gun. This would solve a problem for police or members of the military who may want to have the option of “sharing weapons.”
In the case of the Connecticut massacre, is it possible that Adam Lanza’s mother, a gun enthusiast who reportedly took her sons to the range, would have embedded Adam’s biometric data on her weapons if that was possible? Sure. But, family baby sitters have told reporters that Nancy Lanza repeatedly urged “caution” around Adam and was worried about his behavioral problems.
Connecticut law enforcement officials say the shooting spree began last Friday when Adam Lanza took his mothers weapons and used at least one of them on her, shooting her multiple times in the head.
Lanza then took his mother’s two pistols and a semi-automatic assault rifle to Sandy Hook elementary schoosl. At the front entrance, he blasted his way through a glass ecurity door, gunned down several adults including the principal and a school psychologist, and went into a a first grade class where he quickly killed all fourteen children and their teacher.
Lanza then went to another classroom, shot six more children and their teacher, and then took his own life to end the rampage.
The weapons Adam Lanza relied on were not his. They belonged to his mother, the only person entitled to use them. And while she may have taught her son how to fire the weapons at shooting ranges over the years, she was the sole owner of the weapons, not him.
If smart technology had been in place, the weapons would have likely been useless to Adam Lanza.
And that’s the point. Congress and the President should begin their new effort at preventing mass shootings by mandating something that might have made a different in Newtown, Connecticut — require smart gun technology in all weapons. Just as our nation insists on basic quality standards for cars, houses, tools, air, water, and etc, insisting on basic features for all weapons that may be “fired” is perfectly reasonable.
It’s not about taking guns away. It’s about making sure that guns can’t be fired by anybody but their lawful owners.
Is that too much to ask?
About the Author (Author Profile)
David Shuster is an Emmy Award-winning broadcast news anchor and correspondent for Current TV. Based in Washington,D.C., Shuster serves as the primary substitute host for “Countdown with Keith Olbermann.”
Previously, Shuster hosted shows on MSNBC and anchored that network’s prime time coverage of breaking news stories including the historic Congressional votes for healthcare reform, the earthquake in Haiti, and the death of Michael Jackson.
Shuster also worked for NBC News, where he covered Operation Iraqi Freedom in Doha,Qatar; the first elections in Baghdad, Iraq; the selection of Pope Benedict in Vatican City; and Hurricane Katrina as the storm made landfall in Biloxi, Mississippi.
On MSNBC’s Hardball, Shuster led the show’s coverage of the 2004 and 2008 Presidential campaigns. He headed up MSNBC’s “ad watch team,” fact checking and analyzing hundreds of campaign commercials. He also covered the national political conventions and the presidential campaign primaries. In the fall of 2003, Shuster spent two months in California leading Hardball’s coverage of the recall of Governor Gray Davis and the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
From 1996-2002, Shuster was a Washington, D.C. based correspondent for the Fox News Channel. He was at the Pentagon on 9/11 and led Fox’s coverage in Washington,D.C.of U.S.military operations in Afghanistan. During the Clinton administration, Shuster led Fox’s coverage of the Clinton investigations including “Whitewater,” the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the Starr report, and the Senate impeachment trial.
From 1994–1996, Shuster was the lead investigative and political reporter for KATV (ABC) in Little Rock,Arkansas. He led the station’s coverage of the Whitewater investigation, including the indictment, trial, conviction, and resignation of Arkansas Governor Jim Guy Tucker. Shuster’s series on corruption at the Arkansas Manufactured Housing Commission prompted changes in state law and earned Shuster an Emmy Award for Investigative Reporting.
From 1990–1994, Shuster was a field producer and assignment editor for CNN in their Washington, D.C.bureau.
In 2006, Shuster was the recipient of the prestigious “Bugle Award” given by the 1.3 million member organization “Disabled American Veterans.” The annual honor recognizes journalists who bring attention to disabled veterans. Shuster won for his extensive coverage of the 2005 National Disabled American Veterans Winter Sports Clinic in Aspen,Colorado.
Shuster is a graduate of the Universityof Michigan. He lives in Washington, D.C.