1 month, 4 weeks ago
For years, they’ve existed only in science fiction and the archives of the New Jersey Legislature: handguns that fire only in the grip of an authorized user.
And yet these so-called smart guns soon could be the only kind sold legally in New Jersey under a state law that has languished on the books for a decade.
The law, which requires the state’s gun dealers to exclusively sell smart guns within three years after the first one hits the market, has been largely forgotten since the Legislature adopted it in 2002. But it could be dusted off as early as this year as technology finally catches up to the vision of lawmakers at a time when the debate over gun control is more combative and divisive than at any time in recent history.
After years of stalled and inconclusive research — hampered in part by political resistance from groups like the National Rifle Association — a German company called Armatix says it will introduce the first gun equipped with a user-recognition system within 45 days.
It is unclear whether that model, which will fire only within range of a sensor embedded in a wristwatch, will trigger the New Jersey regulations. But advocates predict that the first sale is likely to create a domino effect as other companies and publicly funded groups — including one at the New Jersey Institute of Technology — are spurred to bring their own prototypes to the market.
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The NRA did not respond to requests for comment, but Scott L. Bach, the executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs, said the technology is flawed, and could put gun owners in danger when it fails. He also questioned why law enforcement officers are exempt.
“New Jersey’s smart-gun law is as dumb as it gets,” Bach, of West Milford, said in a statement. “It forces you to use an unproven technology to defend your life, and then exempts the state from liability when the gun goes ‘click’ instead of ‘bang.’ If it’s such a great idea, then law enforcement shouldn’t be exempt, and the free market should be allowed to determine its viability.”
Oh, the free market will indeed decide what becomes of this ridiculous machine. It will be laughed off the world stage when the first person attempts to defend his life with it and an electronic gadget interferes and causes someone to die at the hands of an assailant.
And the next time Chris Christie asks for your vote, remind him that he is governor of New Jersey, home of the some of the most draconian gun laws on earth. Ask him if he is going to force all of his body guards and state police to use this silly piece of equipment?
Prior: Smart Guns Tag