Caution needed on legislation for nascent ‘smart gun’ technology

The Hill’s June 2 article “Dems push smart tech handgun rules” highlights only half of the conversation surrounding the two bills introduced recently by Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyGreta Thunberg scolds Congress on climate action: 'I know you are trying but just not hard enough' Obama meets with Greta Thunberg: 'One of our planet's greatest advocates' Young insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight MORE (D-Mass.) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.).

The article effectively summarizes the legislation, but fails to emphasize that the so-called “smart gun” is still largely a concept. Our industry has never opposed the research and development of firearms equipped with authorized-user recognition, but we have yet to see one that is fully developed, safe and reliable.

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Unsurprisingly, polls show that the majority of Americans are skeptical of the technology. Seventy-four percent of respondents overall said that they would not buy, or would not very likely buy, such a firearm. U.S. law enforcement agrees. Sheriff John Urquhart of King County, Wash., told a recent conference that he would be interested if it worked 110 percent of the time, but his conclusion was that the technology “is not ready for my officers yet.” 

While our industry does not oppose R&D in this field, we do oppose ill-conceived legislative mandates. Markey and Maloney should take note from New Jersey state Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg who said she wants to repeal the smart-gun mandate law she authored in 2002 after concluding that the one-size-fits-all prescriptive legislation has proved counterproductive.

If the significant technological challenges to developing a safe and reliable firearm with authorized-user recognition can be overcome, and there is sufficient consumer demand, the market will respond. And should such a product come to market, individuals should be able to decide for themselves whether they want to purchase it. But it will always be the case that existing technologies, such as gun locks, lock boxes and safes, are effective means of keeping firearms out of the hands of those who should not have them.

From Lawrence G. Keane, senior vice president, assistant secretary and general counsel, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Newtown, Conn.


Free trade isn't necessarily fair

President Obama and the Republicans are pushing hard for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a European Union-style “trade deal.”

They state that China will kick our butts if we do not pass this bill. But they fail to point out China became this powerhouse “because” of a bad trade bill a few years ago. TPP is the same thing all over again. 

So let’s be clear about this: We don’t want free trade, we want fair trade. The United States has pushed hard for fair labor practices in this country at great expense for our businesses. Only when the following practices are matched by our trade partners can fair trade take place: 

Our businesses must meet expensive and extensive environmental regulations, and labor and industries safety criteria. Do our future trade partners? If they don’t, then they have a trade advantage. Many of our businesses have to meet minimum wage levels (10 cents an hour or day is not a living wage) and child labor laws. Do our future trade partners guarantee a minimum wage for their employees? How young can you be forced into the work force in these countries? In the U.S. we have a standard eight-hour work day. Do these trade partners guarantee that their workers don’t work in sweat shops 18 hours a day?

China exploits its workers with low pay and long hours in unsafe sweat shops and then sends us contaminated and inferior goods at cheap prices. Some deal.

From Mark Breese, Spokane, Wash.