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Is Mandatory Smart Gun Technology a Bad Idea?
Jenny Murphy
SpeakOut.com Staff Writer

Click on Yes or No below to tell your Representatives how you feel.
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Send a Message!Mandatory smart gun technology will make guns prohibitively expensive for law-abiding citizens and would do little to halt gun violence. Send a Message!Mandatory smart gun technology will save lives and prevent tragic incidents like the recent school shooting around the U.S.


While low-tech gun safety locks have been sold for years, efforts are underway to create a "smart gun", which would make handguns accessible only to the gun's owners. Prototypes have been developed for such guns with features that include wristbands that must be worn by the gun owner to transmit a radio signal that allows the gun to fire, and personalized identification codes that the owner must enter before the gun will function. Gun manufacturers have begun to develop such safety technology, both to prevent future lawsuits and in hope of revitalizing a saturated handgun market.

In the wake of the recent shooting in Michigan of a six-year old by a classmate, President Clinton proposed $10 million in funding for research into smart gun technology. Last week, Maryland Governor Parris Glendenning signed a bill mandating that all handguns sold in that state have built-in locks beginning in 2003. Maryland is the first state to pass such a law. While researchers agree that smart guns are scientifically possible, most manufacturers also feel that current models are highly flawed, and it will be years before marketable and convenient smart guns can be developed.

On One Hand...

Guns should be subject to the same consumer safety standards that apply to aspirin bottles, automobiles or any other product. New personalized gun technology will protect against accidental firearms-related injuries, and go a long way toward eliminating the high rate of shooting deaths among children in the U.S. By making the gun useless to anyone but its owner, new locking technology would also prevent criminals from using stolen guns.

On the Other Hand...

Smart gun technology would sharply increase the price of handguns and would make guns inaccessible for many law-abiding citizens who need gun protection. Also, these new devices aren't as smart as they're made out to be. New high-tech safety features could malfunction and prevent the gun from firing when its owner is using it to defend himself and his family. Some gun manufacturers have claimed that criminals could use jamming devices to disable police versions of the weapons.

History & Facts

  • Concealable weapons kill more Americans every year than all household and recreational products combined.

  • Suicide is the leading cause of death by firearms in America. There were 17,566 such deaths in 1997 and total number of deaths by firearms that year was 32,436.

  • The rate of firearm death of children 0-14 years old is nearly twelve times higher in the U.S. than in 25 other industrialized nations combined.

  • Stolen guns are used in about 30 percent of crimes

  • A person living in a home with a gun is three times more likely to die by homicide and five times more likely to die by suicide than someone in a gunless household.

  • Americans use guns defensively more than 2 million times each year -- five times more frequently than the 430,000 times guns were used to commit crimes in 1997.

  • Ninety-eight percent of the time, simply brandishing a gun is sufficient to stop a violent attack.

  • Legislation proposed by Gov. Parris Glendening of Maryland would require all guns sold in the state after January 1, 2003 to be equipped with personalized safety technology.

Sources: Violence Policy Center, Center for Disease Control, Handgun Control Inc., Washington Times

Mandatory smart gun technology will reduce the number of shooting deaths in the U.S.
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Young Guns
Philadelphia Inquirer; March 17, 2000: The editorial argues that new gun safety technology (and more responsible parenting) would prevent shootings involving children.

What We Need is Smart Parents
By Dick Feagler; Cleveland Plain Dealer; March 14, 2000: The author argues that smart gun technology will not prevent gun accidents.


Clinton Urges GOP to Back Bill Requiring Gun Locks
By Charles Babington; Washington Post; March 2, 2000: The article describes the President's effort to persuade lawmakers to pass gun control legislation.

Shooting for a Safer Deadly Weapon
By Daniel DeLuc; Washington Post; February 28, 2000: The article details new technologies being developed to make guns safer.

The New Smart Guns
By Angie Cannon; U.S. News & World Report; January 24; 2000: The piece outlines the pros and cons of smart guns.

Colt CEO Shifts to High-Tech Guns
By Tom Lowry; USA Today; March 3, 1999: This profile of Colt CEO Steve Sliwa describes the executive's effort to develop new gun safety technology.

U.S., Gunmaker Strike a Deal
By Edward Walsh and David A. Vise; Washington Post, March 18, 2000: The article describes new safety and sales standards to be adopted by Smith & Wesson as past of a settlement with several U.S. cities.

With President on Hand, Gun Locks Become Law
By Daniel LeDuc; The Washington Post; April 12, 2000: The article relates the passage and signing of legislation in Maryland requiring built-in locks on all handguns sold in that state.


National Rifle Association
National Rifle Association website provides news and information on gun rights issues.

Center To Prevent Handgun Violence
A non-partisan, not-for-profit organization that lobbies for additional gun regulations at local, state and national levels.

Violence Policy Center
The Violence Policy Center is a national organization that works to reduce gun death and injury in America by approaching firearms violence as a public health issue and illustrating the need to hold firearms to the same health and safety standards as other consumer products.

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