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Responding to bipartisan calls for enhanced gun safety, the New
Jersey Senate passed a bill requiring all handguns in the state to be
“childproof,” despite critics’ assessments that such a lofty goal may be
nearly impossible and the requisite technology unavailable.
The measure, passed Thursday, would require that only firearms that
have been personalized for an authorized user can be legally sold in the
state. The measure also imposes restrictions on future retail sales of
The New Jersey Senate vote follows a similar measure signed into law
April 11 in Maryland by Gov. Parris Glendening, making Maryland the
first state in the nation to require integrated locks on all handguns
sold in the state beginning January 2003.
“We applaud the action by the New Jersey Senate,” said Sarah Brady,
Handgun Control, Inc. “For far too long, the gun industry has put profits ahead of public safety, and, as a result, too many guns have fallen into the hands of criminals, or have been used in terrible accidental shootings or suicides by children and teenagers.”
“But the New Jersey Senate sent a strong message to gun makers: Make safer products or else you can’t sell them in the state,” said Brady.
According to a synopsis of the
Senate measure, a “personalized” handgun is defined as “a handgun which incorporates within its design, and as part of its original manufacture, technology which automatically limits its operational use and which cannot be readily deactivated, so that it may only be fired by an authorized or recognized user.”
The bill lists radio frequency tagging, touch memory, remote control, fingerprint, magnetic encoding and other automatic user identification systems utilizing biometric, mechanical or electronic systems as acceptable means of personalizing guns.
The measure calls on the state attorney general to report to the legislature and the governor’s office within six months of its passage “the availability of personalized handguns for retail sales purposes.” If the technology does not exist, the attorney general must evaluate the retail gun market every six months thereafter and report when guns are available for retail sale with the personalized usage technology.
“Personalized handguns shall be deemed to be available for retail sales purposes if at least one manufacturer has delivered at least one model of a personalized handgun to a registered or licensed wholesale or retail dealer in New Jersey or any other state,” the measure says.
Two years after determining that personalized handguns are available for retail sales purposes, the attorney general would be required to direct the Superintendent of State Police to prepare a list of the personalized handguns that may be sold in New Jersey, the measure said. The bill then affords the superintendent six months in which to prepare the list and make it available to firearms dealers in the State. The personalized handguns that may be sold are to be identified on the list by manufacturer, model and caliber.
The bill, sponsored by Republican Senate President Donald DiFrancesco and Democratic Sen. Richard Codey, now moves to the state General Assembly for a vote.
“We thank and congratulate Senators DiFrancesco and Codey for sponsoring this legislation, which I am confident will save help save lives — especially children — in the state,” Brady said.
Others, however, are not so confident the new bill would do much to save lives.
“The benefits for these laws are claimed to be reduced juvenile accidental gun deaths and suicides and reduced crime rates,” said John R. Lott, Jr., a noted gun-law researcher and law-school professor at Yale University. “These are the exact same claims that were made for the various state safe storage laws that are on the books.”
Lott said his studies — the most extensive ever done on gun laws, including data from all 3,100-plus counties in the U.S. — not only indicate that such laws have done little to reduce gun violence, they also prevent those who need protection the most from being able to get it on their own.
“These technologies will raise the price of guns by hundreds of dollars, preventing poor people in high-crime areas from getting a gun to protect themselves,” Lott said. “This is one of the groups that I find benefit the most from being able to protect themselves,” he added, pointing out the he has conducted
an exhaustive research effort on the impact of similar gun laws on the poor.
|Colt Defender 07000D .45 ACP, like this one, will soon be fitted with ‘smart gun’ technology if it can be perfected.|
Lott said his studies have indicated that during the first full five years after 15 states passed safe storage laws, those states faced an annual average increase of over 300 more murders, 3,860 more rapes, 24,650 more robberies, and over 25,000 more aggravated assaults. On average, the annual costs borne by victims averaged over $2.6 billion as a result of lost productivity, out-of-pocket expenses, medical bills, and property losses.
Though not personally familiar with the New Jersey Senate bill, “such schemes tend to be ineffective by nature of the purposes of firearms,” said Charlie Cutshaw, small arms editor,
“Jane’s International Defense Review,”
editor, “Jane’s Ammunition Handbook,” and associate editor, “Jane’s Infantry Weapons.”
“I keep a couple of guns out and loaded for the purpose of home defense, as we live out in the country where 911 is even more of a cruel joke than in the city,” Cutshaw told WorldNetDaily. “These have no trigger locks installed, because trigger locks on a self-defense firearm are an oxymoron.”
Cutshaw said he doesn’t trust the technology being incorporated into so-called smart guns, “nor do most other experts in the field.”
Cutshaw said he had recently discussed the smart gun concept with Colt’s developer, Steve Sliwa, and discovered that industry proponents weren’t even able to confirm such technology would be 100 percent reliable.
“Steve told my wife and me quite proudly that he felt that within a couple of years, they could get the ‘smart gun’ to be 90 to 95 percent reliable,” Cutshaw said. “My wife and I looked at each other in astonishment and I asked Steve if he would drive a car whose brakes were 90 to 95 percent reliable.
“When you need a gun for self defense, you want to know that it will function as intended with near absolute certainty. A 90 to 95 percent probability of proper functioning will never be sufficient,” he added. “Then there are tactical issues — what if my wife or partner needs to use the gun? What if I am wounded and she or he needs access to it right now?”
For its part, Colt’s is a
firm proponent of smart-gun technology.
“Colt’s Manufacturing is a strong proponent of gun safety through design and training. We believe also that the potential merger of electronics to small firearms is a natural evolution,” said a statement on smart-gun technology at the Colt’s firearms website. “We believe this firearm or ‘smart gun’ could be in full-scale production within 2 or 3 years, if all goes well in the testing and production process.”
However, the company added, it is “strongly against ‘smart gun’ mandates,” adding that the company would “proactively work against these measures.” Smart-gun technology “should be a consumer option for addressing safety for a sizeable group of individuals, but should not be a requirement for gun ownership,” the company said.