"New Jersey Free Bill of Sale Form for Firearm"
“S M A R T” G U N S New Jersey’s “smart gun” bill may ultimately do just the How Can opposite of what it claims to do by forcing gun owners in that state to purchase unreliable firearms, unsafe for self- AGunThat defense. You say you want proof? New Jersey won’t ask its own law enforcement officers to use them. Isn’t Smart Enough For New Jersey Cops Be Smart S by Dave Kopel mart Guns” is a slang term for a hypothetical firearm that incorporates computer technology so that the gun can only be fired by the authorized user.When used by the gun prohibition groups and their political allies, the term is a legal. (There are some exceptions for antiques and for guns used by active competitive shooters.) Banning the sale of every handgun except one or a few models isn’t quite as complete a form of prohibition as banning the sale of all handguns. But it’s pretty close. The pretext for this new form of Enough euphemism for “gun handgun prohibition is, supposedly, prohibition.” “For the children.” In truth, fatal gun And, as recently enacted accidents involving children are at an by the New Jersey legislature, all-time recorded low. In 1975 there For The it is premised on the idea that using a firearm for protection is immoral, unless you are a were 500 fatal gun accidents for children 14 and under. In 2000, there were 80 such accidents, according to Rest Of government employee. the National Safety Council. (A quarter of those—20—involved children New Jersey Justice? four and under.) The New Jersey In December 2002, New Jersey Department of Health reported zero Us? Gov. James McGreevey signed bill s. 573-890, a ban on the retail sale of currently existing models of handguns. The law makes the ban go into effect children in New Jersey killed in firearms accidents in 1998 and 1999, the last years for which detailed statistics are available. three years after “at least one Many legislators, however, are manufacturer has delivered at least one misled by claims from gun prohibition production model of a personalized groups claiming that,“12 children a day handgun to a registered or licensed are killed by guns.” This factoid is wholesale or retail dealer in New manufactured by counting an 18-year- Jersey or any other state.” old gangbanger shot while trying to rob In other words, the availability of a liquor store as “a child killed by a gun.” one model of “personalized handgun” The o.f. Mossberg company has Illustration by Gary Locke for sale, anywhere in the United States, trademarked the term “SmartGun, ” sets in motion a ban on the retail and therefore, the phrase should sale of any of the thousands of not be applied to products from handgun models that are currently other companies.“Personalized gun 40 A m e r i c a’s 1st Fre e d o m | March 2003 A m e r i c a’s 1st Fre e d o m | March 2003 4 1 “S M A R T” G U N S “S M A R T” G U N S ... the New Jersey Institute of Technology, a technology” is the more appropriate university that is using government grants to the personalized gun law states:“The but they’re just fine for a single mother opposed to citizens using firearms term. Some gun control lobbyists provisions of this section shall not trying to protect her children from a for protection. For this reason, the fact use the terms “safe gun” or promote personalized gun technology, admitted apply to handguns to be sold, violent intruder. The same legislature that personalized gun mandates make “childproof gun, although this ” that the best fingerprint recognition system transferred, assigned and delivered that won’t mandate personalized guns it less likely that people will succeed language also is inaccurate. currently worked only 80 percent of the time. for official use to: (1) State and local for state troopers decided it was just in using firearms for protection is no law enforcement officers of this State; fine to force these less dependable but problem at all for them. Good Enough For You, But Not (2) federal law enforcement officers more expensive guns on low-income Brady Campaign’s Sarah Brady The Police halted the bill, since the state and New Jersey Institute of Technology, and any other federal officers and citizens, like the law-abiding people explains,“To me, the only reason for New Jersey Gov. McGreevey called local police absolutely refused to a university that is using government employees required to carry firearms in the slums of Newark who need to guns in civilian hands is for sporting the gun prohibition law “common allow themselves to be forced to use grants to promote personalized gun in the performance of their official protect themselves from gangs. purposes.” (Tampa Tribune, 10/21/93) sense,” but rather significantly, unproven technology. They, quite technology, admitted that the best duties; and (3) members of the Armed McGreevey argued,“There are Likewise, her husband Jim Brady was McGreevey’s “common sense” will be correctly, insisted that they did not fingerprint recognition system Forces of the United States or of the safety regulations on cars, on toys. It’s asked if handgun ownership should imposed only on the taxpayers of want their lives to depend on a gun currently worked only 80 percent of National Guard.” clearly time we have safety regulations be permissible. Mr. Brady replied, New Jersey, yet not imposed on the that is as reliable as their computer; a the time. Supposedly, the handgun ban was on handguns.” Yet new regulations for “For target shooting, that’s okay. Get taxpayer-paid bodyguards who less than 100 percent rate of proper After McGreevey applied some also meant to reduce teenage suicides. automobile or toy safety don’t prohibit a license and go to the range. For protect McGreevey himself. functioning just isn’t good enough extra political muscle, the Law and But there is no group of teenagers the sale of every existing automobile defense of the home, that’s why we When the personalized gun bill when one’s life is in danger. Public Safety Committee retreated more likely to have a loaded handgun or toy. That’s because the people who have police departments.” (Parade was moving through the New Jersey Indeed, the New Jersey ban goes and replaced the requirement that in their home than the teenage sons promote the regulations aren’t Magazine, 6/26/94) Assembly, a committee attached an into effect regardless of whether the personalized gun laws apply equally and daughters of police officers, who opposed to ordinary people driving Ironically, although the New Jersey amendment ensuring that the bill’s first personalized handgun functions to the government with a toothless are exempt from the law. cars or playing with toys. law, which doubtless will be proposed provisions would apply to police as properly at a 99.998 percent rate, or an “study” about whether they should.As Simply put, personalized guns are and promoted as a model for many well as the public. This immediately 80 percent rate. In October 2001, the enacted and signed by the governor, too unreliable for the teams of Against Self-Defense other states in 2003, insists that bodyguards protecting McGreevey, The anti-gun lobbies are especially (Continued on page 68) A tale of assault and batteries A A quick look at why “smart” gun technology isn’t available yet — and may not be soon mong the ideas discussed for personalization Touch Memory is somewhat similar to the radio technology are: frequency device. The gun is activated by a ring or some Radio Frequency Identification Devices other item that touches a particular spot on the gun. Besides (rfid) equip a gun with an antenna to receive being vulnerable to battery failure, a Touch Memory device radio waves. The waves are transmitted from could be impaired by a user’s gloves, as well by dirt, blood, a ring, wristband or hand-held transmitter. sweat or oil on the hand or on the gun. Bright & Tough Night Sights The rfid has been promoted by Colt’s Manufacturing Biometric Technologies would activate a gun after reading Our three-dot Night Sights are the most popular illuminated iron sights in the world. The tritium-illuminated sights are the first choice of police, many leading Company, which has received federal grants for research. a voice, a fingerprint, a hand shape or some other personal firearms manufacturers, and defense-minded civilians. Although Colt’s announced in November 1998 that an rfid characteristic of the user. The key vulnerabilities are battery ACOG® (Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight ) A combat-proven telescopic sight with a battery-free, tritium-illuminated gun would be on the market by 2001, there is no evidence failure and slow operation.Additionally, anyone who has ranging reticle. The most versatile sighting system in the world and standard that the gun will be available at any future certain date, and tried to use voice recognition on a cell equipment for most of the United States military’s special forces. Choose from 4 X 32, 3.5 X 35 or 5.5 X 50 magnification. the Colt’s Web site no longer promotes the rfid gun. phone —or even on an extremely Compact ACOG® Like all radio-based devices, rfid guns could be disabled powerful personal Precision, any light aiming in a small, lightweight package. Dual illuminated with fiber optics and tritium and totally battery-free. A superior choice for by jamming equipment. If the user forgot to wear the ring or computer—knows quick response units. Available in 1.5 X 16, 1.5 X 24, 2. X 20 and 3 X 24. wristband, the gun would be completely useless.And, like all that biometrics do AccuPoint® Riflescope A dual illuminated sporting scope specifically designed to help hunters take a personalized gun technologies, the rfid is also vulnerable to not work all the trophy in any light. The patented triangle-shaped reticle is illuminated by battery failure. The battery problem would likely be more time. tritium and fiber optics for optimum brightness and contrast in bright light or low light. acute for citizen guns, which (unlike police duty guns) are Reflex Sight usually not checked for readiness every day. The fastest, most user-friendly red dot-style sights in the business use a bright amber-colored tritium-illuminated reticle for dark or low-light sighting and a Bar Code Readers could be inserted in guns, requiring the fiber optic system for reducing contrast in bright light. Perfect for some law enforcement applications and competition venues as well as hunting at close user to swipe a special magnetic card or other device in or medium ranges. Dot, triangle or chevron-shaped reticle available. order for the gun to be activated. Skeptics note that TriPower™ Tactical Sight The industry's first triple-illuminated sight featuring a tritium-illuminated supermarket bar code readers sometimes require multiple reticle for a vivid, distinct aiming point...an integrated fiber optic system that swipes, and sometimes do not work at all. The time required adjusts the brightness level of ambient light conditions...and a dependable, on-call battery backup system for crisis-level situations. to execute multiple swipes might make a firearm useless in Want to improve your shooting in any lighting condition? an emergency. We're The Any Light Shooting Specialists. 42 A m e r i c a’s 1st Fre e d o m | March 2003 A m e r i c a’s 1st Fre e d o m | March 2003 4 3 “Smart” Guns attorney general of New Jersey, who complicated 19th century mechanical premium prices—especially to never place a finger on the trigger from page 43 (unlike in other states) is a political device, the gun, with delicate and affluent males who want to own until the shooter is ready to fire personalized guns should be forced appointee of the governor, and will be sophisticated computer engineering. a gun, but whose wives are afraid applies just as much to unloaded on everyone except the police, the enforced by New Jersey’s Supreme With the footprint of an existing that an ordinary gun might cause a guns as to loaded ones. guns were originally conceived as Court, which is notoriously hostile to gun—with controlled explosions, home accident. Personalized gun mandates, something only for police officers. gun owners. heavy percussions and vibrations, Presumably, some of these though, encourage people to A significant fraction of police The practical guarantee—as dirty residues and high temperatures potential buyers would be happier violate these safety rules, since the officers who are killed in the line of opposed to the political promise— —electronics that would have to to have a 97 percent reliable gun that government assures people that they duty are shot with their own firearms that personalized guns would be just withstand this high stress would be their spouse will allow, as opposed can rely on the gun’s technology or with firearms taken from a fellow as reliable as standard guns would imbedded. It is like putting a laptop to a 100 percent reliable gun that the instead. For example, if an officer. The u.s. Department of be a requirement that New Jersey computer into a gun and then having spouse will not allow in the house. irresponsible person were not wearing Justice’s National Institute of Justice police use them also. But the actual the computer decide when the gun These manufacturers are spurred the special gun ring, he might feel free sought a solution by subsidizing lack of confidence felt by New Jersey will work, and when it will not.” by polling data suggesting that to point a gun at someone for a joke research into “smart guns.” Colt’s politicians about personalized gun Another technical problem for about a third of the public that and press the trigger, since the gun Manufacturing Company, for reliability is proven by the final clause personalized guns is “chip twigglies” does not currently own guns would, if functioning properly, not example, received millions from the of the bill:“No action or inaction by a —the name that gun manufacturers would be interested in purchasing a fire without the ring. Clinton Department of Justice for public entity or public employee in give to efforts to defeat personalization. personalized gun. Manufacturers also Uninformed people who rely its industrial research efforts. implementing the provisions” of the For example, if a burglar stole a gun look forward to selling a new type of on gun personalization technology In 1996, the u.s. Defense firearm to some of the existing base of might also indulge their habits of Department’s Sandia National gun owners, who might enjoy a gun unsafe gunplay even when they Laboratories produced a report to the If your husband and children get murdered by with a brand-new gadget. encounter one of the 260 million doj on “Smart Gun Technologies.” The Sandia report stated that a criminal because the government-mandated Thus, personalized guns are likely to develop, eventually, a legitimate guns in America (the approximate existing gun supply, as of 2002) that reliability was officers’ main concern: personalized gun malfunctioned, you can’t sue place in the mix of firearms do not have personalization “The firearm must work because the the government, which forced your husband to purchased by the public—especially technology. If, as the gun ban bill officer’s or another person’s life is at for firearms intended only for claims,“New Jersey’s commitment to stake.” Sandia concluded that an use the inferior gun. sporting purposes. firearms safety is unrivaled anywhere acceptable personalized gun must But to prematurely force the ” in the nation, then the legislature and take no longer than a quarter-second bill “shall constitute a representation, that used computer personalization people of New Jersey to be the early governor would not be undermining to recognize the authorized user—a warranty or guarantee by any public technology, he could destroy the testers for Version 1.0 of personalized gun safety training and shielding limit consistent with the fact that the entity or employee with regard to the computer chip by simply baking the guns technology, Gov. McGreevey themselves from liability. average gunfight lasts only 2.7 seconds. safety, use or any other aspect or gun in an oven. Chip twigglies could and the New Jersey legislature have The “smart gun” issue is couched Sandia did not find any currently attribute of a personalized handgun. be employed not only by thieves, but made it much more likely that more in terms of cutting-edge technology, available technologies that would be No action to recover damages shall also by legitimate consumers (such as law-abiding people will be murdered, but the debate really involves the acceptable to police. arise or shall be brought against any the people of New Jersey) who were raped and assaulted by violent oldest issues in the gun control More recently, the New Jersey public entity or public employee for concerned that their mandated predators, who doubtless will ignore debate: handgun prohibition, Institute of Technology has been any action or inaction related to or in personalized gun would not be quick the law and use whatever gun they defensive gun use, the legitimacy of claiming that a personalized gun connection with the implementation and reliable in an emergency. please.And McGreevey and gun ownership by poor people and could be expected to be on the market of any aspect” of the bill. The greater the efforts that company have ensured that victims the dangerous conceit that anti-gun by 2004. In other words, no matter what manufacturers make to prevent chip will not be able to sue their lobbyists understand gun safety The bill does require that the McGreevey and his legislative allies twigglies, the less reliable the guns government for the injuries caused better than do certified firearms attorney general determine,“through told the public, they can’t be held become for self-defense, and the more by their government. safety instructors. testing or other reasonable means, accountable for claiming the unacceptable the gun becomes to that the handgun meets any reliability personalized guns would work in police forces.According to Sandia, No Need For Gun Safety? Some material in this article came from standards that the manufacturer may an emergency. If your husband and police insist that a personalized gun be The dangerous New Jersey mandate Guns in American Society: An require for its commercially available children get murdered by a criminal usable in case the personalization might also even cause an increase in Encyclopedia of History, Politics, handguns that are not personalized or, because the government-mandated technology malfunctions or breaks. gun accidents. Firearms safety Culture, and the Law (abc-Clio), for if the manufacturer has no such personalized gun malfunctioned, you Accordingly, some manufacturers, instructors train students to treat all which Kopel was a co-editor, and the reliability standards, the handgun can’t sue the government, which forced such as Glock, are not investing in guns as if they are loaded and never to Connecticut Law Review article meets the reliability standards your husband to use the inferior gun. personalized gun technology at all, rely upon someone else’s assertion “Smart Guns/Foolish Legislators,” generally used in the industry for Personalized guns, however, have because they are skeptical that it can that a gun is unloaded. Even after a which Kopel co-authored with Cynthia commercially available handguns.” proven much more difficult to build ever work reliably enough. Other person checks a gun his or herself and Leonardatos and Paul Blackman. That This language might sound good, than to imagine.As one gun manufacturers, though, are hoping is certain that the gun is unloaded, he article, which includes citations for but one should remember that the manufacturer explained, the core that by bringing a personalized gun to or she must still always point the gun much of the material discussed here, is determination will be made by the design problem is the “meshing of a the market, they will be able to charge in a safe direction.And the rule to available at www.davekopel.org. 68 A m e r i c a’s 1st Fre e d o m | March 2003 A m e r i c a’s 1st Fre e d o m | March 2003 69