‘Smart Guns’ Fire Up Debate

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Photo courtesy of CBS News.

CBS News – It’s something straight out of a James Bond movie: a gun that only its owner can fire.

That kind of technology is now available in the real world. It’s called a “smart gun.” Made in Germany, it requires users to wear a radio-controlled watch to fire it, reports CBS News’ Jan Crawford.

Maryland gun store owner Andy Raymond announced plans last week to sell it, but within 30 minutes of news getting out, the protests started coming in.

“Things went crazy,” Raymond said. “People just started calling. All three of our lines were just boom, boom, boom. A hundred emails. I mean, just like that.”

One caller warned Raymond’s business would be burned to the ground. Another threatened that Raymond would get what was coming to him.

It’s a weapon that fires up people on both sides of the gun control debate.

Some groups who support stringent gun laws say it could lead to wider gun ownership.

Gun rights supporters are even more opposed. They say it could eventually make smart gun technology mandatory in all weapons.

So Raymond backed down, announcing his decision not to sell the guns in a video rant he posted on Facebook.

“So anyway, obviously I received numerous death threats today. I really [expletive] appreciate that, it’s really [expletive] classy,” Raymond said in the video.

A similar situation happened in Southern California in March. The Oak Tree Gun Club planned to sell the smart gun, but there was a backlash from gun owners. The store reversed course.

“I don’t know anyone who wants a smart gun,” said Lee Williams, investigative reporter for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune who writes a gun column.

He said opponents see the smart gun laws as a back door way to ban guns.

“If you require only smart guns to be sold and only smart guns to be possessed, the guns that they own now will be declared illegal and it could be a further intrusion on their 2nd Amendment rights,” Williams said.

A New Jersey law would do just that. It would eventually require all handguns sold in the state to have the same kind of technology.

California is considering a similar law and Democrats in Congress have proposed federal legislation.

As the technology becomes more available, however, people on both sides say it’s only a matter of time before these guns get on the market.

“The technology isn’t going away,” Raymond said. “If people want to defeat it they need to defeat it in the free market. Then don’t buy it.”

Groups including law enforcement are not ready to invest because they say the technology isn’t reliable yet.


  • Charles McManus

    I have no problem with stores selling the “smart guns”. If a person is willing to pay the extra money for one they are welcome to. However the technology is not yet reliable enough to insure the gun will go bang each and every time the owner wants it to. The “smart gun” relies on high tech electronics which compared to a gun is quite fragile and can be expected to quit working at the worst possible moment. That fragility is precisely why the police do not want it.

  • Sam

    I really don’t see why so many people are against this kind of technology on guns. I don’t want someone using my gun on me. It sounds like a great idea. Technology is constantly changing i don’t see why people would expect guns not to evolve too.

    • Charles McManus

      If you want to voluntarily purchase such a gun that is up to you. remember though the prototype talked about is a 22 pistol, a gun with minimal recoil and one that is certainly not the first choice for a defensive handgun. When one attempts to place this technology on say a 45ACP or 40S&W semi auto pistol or a 357 magnum revolver they are dealing with forces many many times stronger and the reliability will drop with precipitously. There are other considerations as well. A gun using an RFID chip is subject to jamming and that can be accomplished with something a simple as a piece of foil slapped around the wrist with the watch on it. Another consideration is The government will insist on the capability to switch all RFIDs in an area off if they “deem it necessary”.

  • rlwieneke

    I will NOT own a Firearm that a EMP can disable. Also a device could be constructed to “Jam” the signal from the chip in the watch, bracelet or in your wrist Disabling your weapon.

  • HL

    They can sell it, if they want to. I wont buy one. I don’t want my hunting firearms or my defensive firearms depending on some type of electronics to function. Too unreliable. My guns are as smart as they need to be. They do just what I want them to do, when I want them to do it.

  • Glen Kendrick

    I like the idea
    As long as it is reliable

    I would like smart gun where you can program multiple palm prints on it
    So you don’t have to worry about someone stealing your gun and using it on you
    But your family and friends can still use it

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