The Wall Street Journal had an article today about the development of so-called smart guns and how this may trigger a decade old law in New Jersey. In 2002 New Jersey passed a law saying that within three years after a so-called smart gun is available for sale on the US market and that the state’s Attorney General has certified it as reliable, then all new handguns sold there must have that technology.
BATFE has approved the German-made iP1 Pistol by Armatix for importation into the US and it is expected to hit the market by the end of the year. It has also be certified for California’s handgun roster. The iP1 pistol uses a RFID chip which requires communication with a special watch. In addition, the “Intelligun” from Kodiak Industries in Utah which uses a fingerprint-scan is also about to come to market.
“The technology is here,” said Nicola Bocour, a director at Ceasefire NJ, a gun-violence (sic) prevention group. “Apple is using biometrics with its smartphones. Guns are next.”
Backers of New Jersey’s law and signed by then-Gov. James McGreevey hope it would cut down on suicides and firearms accidents, especially those involving children. “Our thought was that the bill, if passed, would save lives every year, without infringing anyone’s rights,” said Stephen Teret, a professor of public health at Johns Hopkins University who helped New Jersey craft the law.
The New Jersey law specifically exempts law enforcement from having to use personalized guns. If the law’s authors thought the technology not reliable enough for law enforcement use, then why is it considered good enough for the public?
Professor Teret is quite mistaken if he thinks this law doesn’t infringe “anyone’s rights”. The technology isn’t free. The iP1 Pistol costs $1,400 while the Intelligun grips from Kodiak cost $399. How is requiring a citizen to pay for expensive technology in order to exercise an enumerated right not an infringement? Did not the US Supreme Court say in Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections that a poll tax infringed upon the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment? How, pray tell, is requiring expensive technology, which may or may not work, not the functional equivalent of a poll tax?
I won’t get into the downsides of the technology which I think are numerous or the adverse self-protection potentialities of it. I would point to a recent poll that states a wide majority of Americans oppose the technology and doubt its reliability. This is a technology that, in my opinion, has limited use and is not one that I’d stake my life upon.