President Obama announced the release of a new report by the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Defense on Friday, which details the requirements that “smart gun” technology must meet to be eligible for purchase by the federal government.
On January 4, Mr. Obama issued a White House memo directing the aforementioned executive agencies, in part, to research gun safety measures, including new “smart gun technology”.
Obama’s smart gun advocacy program is part of an overall effort to promote firearm safety in America, which also includes increased background checks for people with known mental illness.
Currently, the Department of Defense is collaborating with gun manufacturers to test the developing technology at the Army’s Aberdeen Test Center in Maryland.
The Justice and Homeland Security departments will make a final decision about smart gun specification requirements by no later than the end of October.
On the civilian safety front, the Social Security Administration will begin to notify a soon-to-be upgraded federal background check system of mental health records for individuals blacklisted from purchasing firearms.
While the White House has scheduled a meeting of state and local elected officials to discuss the further prevention of gun violence in May, skepticism of introducing smart gun technology too quickly abounds among law enforcement and gun advocacy groups alike.
The NRA, for example, argues that a smart gun mandate for general sales at retail stores, as was attempted in New Jersey, would “prohibit the manufacture of traditional handguns, raise (their) price . . . [and] embed into handguns a device that would allow guns to be disable remotely.”
The first logical step would be wider use of the technology by law enforcement though, even at the local level, but that proposal also faces resistance.
“Police officers in general, federal officers in particular, shouldn’t be asked to be the guinea pigs in evaluating a firearm that nobody’s even seen yet,” said executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, James Pasco. “We have some very, very serious questions.”
Advocates of the replacement of traditional weapons with firearms which employ microchip technology that only can be discharged by the authorized user or owner, may point to the 500 accidental shooting deaths per year, teen suicides which are largely carried out with a parent’s gun, or even police deaths caused by a suspect gaining control an officer’s weapon, which could be prevented.
In a Facebook post on Friday, President Obama concluded that the steps being taken at the federal level “is how we honor the lives that have been lost by gun violence, and it’s how we leave behind a stronger, more secure nation for our children.”
[AP] [Politico] [Photo courtesy herox.com]