Monday, November 9, 2015

Revamping of New Jersey Smart Gun Law

As technology becomes more advanced, so do our guns! A very popular innovation right now is the smart gun, which is essentially a type of personalized gun that has safety feature(s) that makes it so that only its authorized owner is able to fire it. The only downside of the smart guns, however, is that they're still being developed and none have actually been sold in any New Jersey gun stores yet.

13 years ago, New Jersey saw the potential benefits in smart guns from preventing accidental shootings, so consequently a law was passed that stated that all gun stores must only sell smart guns -- which the law says will start 3 years after the first smart gun is released. Furthermore, New Jersey believed that by passing this law it would encourage the development and research of the weapon. Ironically, however, the law is hindering the promotion of the smart guns because second amendment advocates are intimidating gun show owners from putting smart guns on their shelves because they don't want the three year countdown to be triggered.

Senator Weinberg realized this flaw, and is proposing a sort of compromise. On Thursday, she proposed a bill that made it so that all gun stores only have to sell one smart gun in their store. She believes that by doing so, the gun buyers can have a choice to choose between choosing the smart gun or a standard gun, thus avoiding any conflict.

Senator Weinberg is struggling, however, to get the bill passed because governor Chris Christie simply doesn't believe in the cause as a whole; the governor believes that they should just stick with the laws that are already on the books. Not only that, but president of the New Jersey Second Amendment Society, Alexander Roubian, called Weinberg's repeal, "Another desperate attempt to replace failed policy with more failed policy" (Source). He went on to assert that not only are smart guns expensive and unreliable, but the bill itself is unconstitutional in the light of the second amendment and the free market.

The Center for Disease and Control sited that a total of 505 people were killed by accidental discharge of a firearm in 2013, 30 of whom were under 3 years old. Furthermore, they believed that it is foolish to say that smart guns can't help our society avoid these accidents. They also said that there is an obvious use for them, as well as a need for them. Weinberg and her advocates also believe that New Jersey should invest its time and money in passing this new bill because this new law will save the lives of many Americans to come.

Questions:
What do you think about smart guns and their potential capabilities?
Do you think more time, money, and research should go into the development of the smart guns in order to get them on the shelves faster?
What do you think about New Jersey's initial smart gun law that made every store sell only smart guns; was it unpractical?
What do do you think of the new smart gun law? Do you think it should be passed? Do you think its constitutional under the second amendment and the free market?
Do you believe in the use of smart guns, or do you think the benefits of smart guns are over exaggerated?

Sources:
Photo
Guns, NJCBS News

7 comments:

Grant Hillman said...

The whole "smart gun" idea is a very interesting one, and I believe that if the technology can be used, it should be applied. However, the original law, which would force gun owners to only purchase smart guns, was not a smart one. Obviously, this would be met with backlash from gun owners regardless of location, simply because they are no longer granted a choice as to what type of firearm they can purchase and sell. I think that if the state government wants to continue to push the idea of the smart gun, they must advertise it as AN option, not THE option. It's evident that gun owners in the United States don't like the government telling them what they can and can't do; this situation will be no different. The argument that the guns are expensive and unreliable is a legitimate one too. Obviously guns with brand-new technology won't work 100% of the time, and they will without question be more expensive than your trusty, standard 1911 pistol. I'd say the best thing for smart gun advocates to do is test the technology first, prove its worth, and then simply release it to the market as a choice, not as the only option for gun buyers.

Evan Johannet said...

I agree with Grant, I believe that the "smart gun" option should be just that; people looking to purchase a gun should not be required to purchase a gun that has the technology. Over time, people will see the benefits of having a fingerprint scanner or other technology that limits who can use a weapon, as it will probably limit accidents at home and the theft of weapons.

Bobby Sato said...

I also agree with Grant and his opinion that the smart gun should be tested and proven before government action is taken. Although the smart gun will undeniably save many lives, this does not justify an infringement on second amendment rights and free market. The initial mandate was an extreme and rightfully shot down. There are numerous ways to promote the sale of a specific product without imitating a communist form of government. Also one problem with smart guns which was under emphasized in the post is the cost of the new guns. Because they are still in the developing stage, it is difficult to ascertain how expensive these smart guns will be. Therefore it is too early to make decisions on its implementation.

Tara Young said...

I also agree that customers should not be restricted to only purchasing smart guns. There should not be a violation of the second amendment rights and free market. The technology is very interesting, but as stated before there are always glitches to new technology. It is a good idea to prevent accidental shootings and deaths. However, on the other hand, since the smart gun will only be able to be shot by the owner, there is another risk to people that needs to be considered. If a person was attacked by someone with a smart gun, they will not be able to defend them self as well. If the victim got the gun away from the attacker and it became necessary for the victim to shoot the attacker, the smart gun would prevent this and in this scenario, the victim could be killed. There are both pros and cons for this issue. This con would endanger the public's safety.

Caroline Mameesh said...

I like Tara's point regarding the possible flaws of the smart gun and its technology.
A major point of people owning guns is for the sake of protecting themselves and their families. Would a smart gun be permitted to allow more than one authorized person to use it, such as a man as well as his wife? If an intruder were to break into the husband's house when he was not home, and his wife needed to use the gun but it is only authorized to be used by her husband, then the gun would be useless. (Not to be hetero-centric, that was just an example.)
Another downfall that comes with this technology is that, no matter how much it is tested, it can always fail. Guns, for safety purposes, are used in sudden situations that are seldom seen coming. If the technology of the smart gun fails in one of these instances, it could result in the death or serious injury of the person attempting to use it. Is it safe to rely on technology for an item such as a firearm?
While there are obvious pros to this technology, there are also clear cons. Technology can never be 100% foolproof, but, then again, neither can the use of guns be.
It is believed that "roughly 11,000 annual gun-related homicides are committed with stolen weapons" (http://www.latimes.com/science/la-sci-smart-gun-20150615-story.html). This astonishing statistic supports this smart gun technology and its potential benefits even though there are inevitable flaws. Yet, is anything ever perfect? The rate at which this technology, once thoroughly tested, will fail is hopefully a very low rate--lower than the amount of deaths caused by unauthorized gun use.
The 2nd Amendment is still upheld; there is still a right to bear arms. But the Founders could never have fathomed such technology, and it is hard to say whether or not they would have supported its imposing. Grant is right that gun owners will never like being regulated in their gun use, but perhaps it is time we see the validity in this new technology and, for the greater good, settle at this compromise. Times inevitably change, and so must we.

Daniel Jun said...

Tradition exists because it works. But at some point, traditionalism becomes obstinate idiocy. Why bother having the originally proposed law from 2013 at all? Why not just sell smart guns on the market like a normal product, and if people see the benefits of such a high tech weapon outweigh the drawbacks (and there are bound to be drawbacks given the novelty of such a device), then perhaps the original variety of firearm will disappear into obscurity. But what role should the government play in the sale of smart guns? There's an old saying, "Guns don't kill people, people with guns kill people," but will smart guns really make a difference in the amount of shootings in the US? Should the government attempt to promote this new technology?

I know movies aren't reality, but this article made me remember this almost immediately. But does anyone remember that scene from Skyfall, when that Asian bad guy tries to shoot Bond, but because it's a form of smart gun, the bad guy was unable to shoot it? Even if it's a movie, doesn't that show the potential use of a smart gun?

Danny Halawi said...

I'm totally with Grant on this one. Implementing smart guns is definitely a smart idea if it's going to reduce accidental crime rates; however, forcing people to buy smart guns and making them the only option really won't do the cause any good. If you force the people to use only smart guns then there is going to be some sort of backlash. In general, when people are forced to do something, it automatically becomes lest appealing to them. If you really want to a get positive feedback from the public, it's best that you show the benefits of the smart guns and then slowly persuade the people to use them. And even if the government wants to force them to use them, they should do it gradually, not right away.

Also Bobby brought up a good point. The cost of smart guns will be reasonably higher than normal, thus posing a problem. Alot of people simply might not be able to spend the few thousand more in order to get the smart gun. If New Jersey is going to force its citizens to only use smart guns, then it needs to somehow also implement a program that will fund poor citizens to pay the difference; otherwise, many people who want to buy guns won't be able to and there will be more backlash.

Caroline brings up a good point, "Another downfall that comes with this technology is that, no matter how much it is tested, it can always fail." In my opinion, however, technology indeed can fail, but we can make it so that the rate at which it fails is very low. If the smart gun is tested thoroughly, then we can make it so that the rate at which it fails is very low, and maybe we can even make it so that it fails less than a regular gun. Also, you do bring up a good point, if you're in a situation where you need someone to use your gun (maybe your wife or kid), then what would you do in that situation? Maybe a solution for this problem is New Jersey think about making smart guns that can be used by several people for emergency situations.

Interesting perspective Daniel. The problem with selling it like a normal product is that people, even if they see the benefits in the smart gun, still will choose to buy the normal gun simply because it's cheaper. People by nature are going to buy the least expensive item if it does the same job, and consequently releasing it normally won't result in a win for the smart gun. Also, the smart gun isn't made to prevent the amount of shooting, but more of the accidental shootings, and shootings that occur when people steal your gun.