March 27, 2014
By Robert W. Hunnicutt
The normally reliable Washington Times made an error this week with a story entitled New smart gun technology to hit store shelves within one year.
The Times apparently picked up the story from CNN, which described the Identilock, made by a Detroit company called Sentinl, as a competitor to the German-designed Armatix smart gun that uses RFID (radio frequency identification) technology to disable the pistol unless the owner is wearing a radio-emitting wristband.
The Identilock, on the other hand, is just a trigger lock, albeit a very fancy one that uses biometrics to detect the owner's fingerprint. When you touch the trigger finger to the lock, the lock drops off the pistol, allowing firing. There is no change to the firearm's internals, and that's pretty much the essence of a smart gun.
There's a whole lot of difference between a smart gun, which gun owners quite vehemently oppose, and a smart gun lock. No one opposes gun locks, provided their use isn't mandated in a way that impairs defensive use. Using a gun lock if you have kids in the house is a great idea, and that's why most new guns come with one.
Smart guns inevitably allow state legislatures in places like California and New Jersey to require smart guns, with the equally inevitable result of forbidding dumb guns. Hypocrites can claim to support the Second Amendment while outlawing hundreds of millions of guns on the bogus claim of enhancing safety. Given what we now know about the extent of NSA spying, the notion that the government could use smart gun technology to find or even disable firearms is no longer strictly for the tin foil hat set, either.
I suspect some clever PR type connected the dots between the Identilock and smart guns and thought he'd found a good way to drum up some publicity for the new product. But the smart gun is not a category anyone hoping for success in the gun game should want to join.