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Tierney’s ‘Gun Safety’ Nonsense


The Hill has a story today that leaves one wondering if, when it comes to gun control, there is any line too ridiculous for progressives to cross:

A House Democrat inspired by the last James Bond movie has offered legislation to produce handguns with “personalization technology.”

The idea is to produce guns that can only be used by the gun’s owners. Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.) cited the latest James Bond movie, “Skyfall,” as inspiration for the bill.

“In the most recent James Bond film, Bond escapes death when his handgun, which is equipped with technology that recognizes him as its owner, becomes inoperable when it gets into the wrong hands,” Tierney’s office said in a statement introducing the bill. “This technology, however, isn’t just for the movies — it’s a reality.”

Sure, one can already buy guns with this technology — although it’s pretty unreliable. It’s certainly a good idea for a gun safe. If Americans wish to take advantage of it, then good for them. Naturally, though, Tierney doesn’t have that in mind:

Under his bill, guns made in the United States would have to be built with this technology two years after the bill becomes law. Older guns being sold by a business or individual would have to be retrofitted with this technology after three years.

And who will pay for this? The taxpayer, naturally.

The bill says the cost of retrofitting these older guns would be paid out of the Department of Justice’s Asset Forfeiture Fund, where confiscated assets from criminal investigations are placed.

In the Boston Globe, John Rosenthal of Stop Handgun Violence, claimed that, with this technology, “We could reduce the majority of gun deaths in this country.”

This is spectacularly dishonest. According to the anti-gun Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, 606 people were accidentally killed by firearms in 2010. Of course, not all of these people were killed with handguns and many of them were killed when the guns were being held by their primary owners. Moreover, the law would do nothing about the vast majority of those 300 million-plus guns that are already privately owned. But let’s presume for the sake of argument that such a system would prevent some handgun accidents, especially children accidentally shooting themselves or others. Had such a system been around in 2010, we might say that it would have saved between 1 and 606 lives.

And that’s about it. In 2010, 19,392 people killed themselves with firearms. If you’re going to take your own life, that the gun you use only works in your hands is wholly irrelevant.

Meanwhile, 11,078 people were murdered with firearms in 2010. Here it is possible that, by limiting the sharing and theft of guns, a few deaths could be shaved off this number. Still, America would remain a country with 300 million–plus grandfathered weapons. If you’re going to murder somebody with a gun, you’re probably not going to be following the rules that apply to only a few of them.

“We could reduce the majority of gun deaths in this country”? Give me a break, John.

I order to address a small problem — a real and serious and horrible problem, but a small one nonetheless — Tierney wants make sweeping changes to the way in which Americans use firearms, overcomplicating access to what is a primary self-defense weapon for milllions of Americans. The suggestion here is that the law require — require – American citizens to sample distinguishing information — fingerprint, handprint, or what you will — and then have this information tied to any handgun they own. This would be an unprecedented and worrying step. Technology is unreliable and it is quite easily hacked, and I would certainly not want to be in a position in which I had to convince a jury that a murder committed with a gun that could ostensibly only be fired by me was not in fact fired by me. There, we would be getting into Minority Report territory. Worth it? I think not.


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