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Democrats back 'personalized guns' bill with fingerprint tech

by Aida Crespo (2021-07-10)

Democrats fight for 'personalized weapons' with fingerprint technology in new gun-control bid
  • Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Ed Markey's bill would require safety devices on every new gun to prohibit anyone but the owner from firing
  • Gun right activists say the technology is dangerous since it can stop gun owners' family members from defending themselves against attackers
  • Police forces don't use the technologies, which include biometric finger sensors and paired watches that must be near a gun to make it shoot
  • Watch batteries go dead, industry experts caution, gun owners wearing gloves have no fingerprints, and companies would be open to lawsuits

By David Martosko, U.S. Political Editor

Published: 14:34 EDT, 20 February 2014 | Updated: 15:26 EDT, 20 February 2014

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New battle lines are being drawn in the fight between gun-control advocates in Washington and Second Amendment advocacy groups, over a proposal that would mandate the 'personalization' of every new gun sold in the United States.

Sen. Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, is behind a bill that would prohibit the sale of run-of-the-mill guns, requiring biometric technologies such as fingerprint recognition or a paired device - such as a wristwatch - that would authorize a gun to fire if it is nearby.

The gun rights lobby appears to be gearing up for a fight.

'The gun prohibition lobby wants it mandated so that they can control the freedom of choice of every gun owner and gun on the market,' Second Amendment Foundation founder Alan Gottlieb told MailOnline.

The man with the golden handprint: The most recent James Bond flick, 'Skyfall,' included a gun that only 007 could shoot

A large gun shop in California is selling the Armatix iP1, which requires a wireless link to a special wristwatch in order to fire

Firearms like this Glock model 17 could soon be required to feature a fingerprint sensor in order to operate -- but just try using it with gloves on

Gottlieb's objections are practical as well as philosophical.

'The problem with "smart guns" is that they are dumb when they really need to be used in self-defense by multiple family members,' he said, 'or for that matter by police partners at a crime in progress when one officer needs to use the other officer's gun.'

'If the police won't use them,' Gottlieb asked, 'why should I?'

The National Rifle Association, through its lobbying-arm Institute for Legislative Action, strongly opposes 'government mandates that require the use of expensive, unreliable features, such as grips that would read your fingerprints before the gun will fire.'


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The NRA also says on its website that it 'recognizes that the "smart guns" issue clearly has the potential to mesh with the anti-gunner's agenda, opening the door to a ban on all guns that do not possess the government-required technology.'

'"Safety" in the gun control lexicon means "restriction",' radio host Cam Edwards said during his show on Wednesday.

Just squeeze: Another approach is this Beretta pistol equipped with sensors that can determine whether the gun's owner is holding it, based on the tightness of the grip at several locations along the handle

NRAnews host Cam Edwards is among the gun-rights leaders who believes a government requirement of new gun technologies could pave the way for the confiscation of older weapons

Next up: personalizing your ammo -- One proposal under consideration would require a gun's firing pin to imprint a unique identifying mark on brass shell casings when guns are fired -- an indented ID of sorts that would connect the gun with the spent cartridge

These concerns are shared by many in the gun industry, even though new technologies would come with a markup that could be lucrative, and a slowing of secondhand sales might create a short-term sales bonanza.

Industry executives told MailOnline that Markey's bill would require them to sell tools that have glaring shortcomings, and might create new legal liabilities.

'What happens when a criminal wrestles away your handgun, points it at your chest and pulls the trigger?' asked one who declined to be named, citing legal concerns. 'If you're wearing a smart watch connected to the gun, it's still going to fire.'

'And what happens when the watch battery runs out?'

Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, a reliable progessive, wants every new gun sold in America to come with a system that would limit its use to the person it belongs to

Gun makers, he said, are getting legal advice about the future pitfalls that will come with selling weapons that can only be used by a single person.

'A gun is property. It's not a license in and of itself, like a Super Bowl ticket,' he explained. 'If you've bought it, you should be able to loan it to whomever you want, as long as that person is responsible with the firearm and has been trained in how to use it.'

'The first time an intruder rapes a woman because she couldn't fire her husband's revolver, someone in this industry is going to get sued.'

But a few intrepid gun retailers, including one near Los Angeles, are making these cutting-edge guns available.'

'It could revolutionize the gun industry,' Oak Tree Gun Club owner James Mitchell told The Washington Post.

Sen. Markey hopes it also revolutionizes the tension between the Second Amendment and the government's obligation to keep ordinary Americans safe.

'In the 21st century, we should use advances in technology to our own advantage and save lives,' he said in a statement and the Handgun Trigger Safety Act  will help ensure that only authorized users can operate handguns.'

'This is the type of gun safety legislation that everyone - regardless of political party or affiliation - should be able to support.'