For as long as anyone can remember, the gun lobby’s main contribution to the gun control debate can be summed up as “(noun) (verb) more guns.” It’s remained that way even after Sandy Hook. But there’s a new type of gun being developed that has the National Rifle Association and its compatriots pitching a fit–the so-called “smart gun.”
Earlier this year, German company Armatix rolled out the iP1, a gun that can only be activated if its user enters a code into a radio-controlled watch. The gun is designed to automatically disable if it is more than 10 inches from the watch. The idea behind it seems like a winner on paper–cut down on accidental discharges, as well as make it more difficult to steal guns. But the gun lobby doesn’t seem to like the idea at all. In a scathing blog post, the NRA claimed that smart guns would not only be unreliable, but could lead to the government ordering all guns without “smart” technology off the market. Additionally, the NRA claims that most gun buyers simply don’t want them, and points to a poll from the National Shooting Sports Federation that suggests a whopping 74 percent of respondents would not buy a smart gun. But you have to take this poll with a hefty amount of salt, since there has been no public polling on the issue as of yet. Plus, the NSSF pushed the respondents pretty heavily–initially, 20 percent of them weren’t familiar with the technology.
The NRA and NSSF’s reaction has been rather tame compared to the reaction from the rank-and-file. In February, Armatix reached a deal to sell the iP1 at the Oak Tree Gun Club, a large gun shop and firing range in the Santa Clarita Valley north of Los Angeles. But when club owner James Mitchell announced he was selling the gun, he was bombarded with calls opposing the deal, and also faced threats of boycotts (though the NRA and NSSF deny calling him). Oak Tree now denies ever cutting a deal with Armatix, despite ample evidence of their collaboration.? Most of the ire, however, was reserved for Belinda Padilla, the head of Armatix’ American division. Someone posted her number on a gun enthusiasts’ bulletin board, leading to a number of ugly voicemails. Someone else even posted a picture of the address where she has a P.O. box online as well.
Andy Raymond, who owns a gun store in Maryland, experienced a similar reaction last week when he announced plans to sell the iP1. On today’s edition of “CBS This Morning,” he said? that literally within half an hour of the announcement, he was bombarded with ugly phone calls and emails, with some threatening his life. Raymond finally had enough, and announced in a profanity-laced video that he wasn’t going to sell them after all.
One has to wonder–if the gun lobby is really concerned about gun safety, why is it so opposed to a technology that could actually make guns safer to use? Do Wayne LaPierre and his friends see this as a threat to Second Amendment rights, or as a threat to the bottom lines of the gun makers who write their checks? Maybe someone ought to ask LaPierre that question. His answer will say a lot about whether he should still be taken seriously when he rants about threats to our rights.
Edited/Published by: SB
? Darrell Lucus is a radical-lefty Jesus-lover who has been blogging for change for a decade. Follow him on Twitter @DarrellLucus or connect with him on Facebook.