Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Smart Guns

A co-worker has informed me that smart guns are being talked about again in connection with the Brian Nichols case. The rhetoric goes something like this: if special interests hadn't been stalling on smart gun technology, this shooting would have never happened. The original female cop would have been beaten up, but Nichols would have never have been able to fire her gun to kill all those other folks.

It is a damn damn lie. Why? Most prominently because all the smart gun laws in the US specifically exempt cops. The police won't support the laws if they are forced to carry the guns themselves. They fear for the reduced reliability of the smart guns if they have to shoot to save their own lives. So there is no way smart gun laws would have done anything for this case, because there is no way the female officer would have been using it.

And keep in mind that police officers are often shot with their own guns. About one in six police shootings involve a cop being shot with his or her own sidearm. It is so prominent that departments often suggest that an officer carry a sidearm that can't penetrate his own vest, just in case. Now a lot of private shootings involve a person being shot with his or her own gun, but those are most often suicides or accidents and no smart gun will help them. I would like to suggest my own law, "Police officers may not carry a gun that is unavailable to the general public."

Do you know who is standing in the way of smart guns? The state of New Jersey. Why? They passed a law mandating that once a single production smart gun is on the market, all civilian firearm sales/transfers of non-smart guns will be totally prohibited after a grace period. Nobody wants to make that first smart gun and start the clock. Despite the near monopoly in New Jersey, they would face a boycott from shooter in the rest of the country that would kill them. Rohrbaugh firearms dropped plans for a smart version of their R9 for this reason.

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