There will always be opposing arguments on the topic of gun rights and gun technology. Trying to get everyone in America to agree on gun legislation, especially politicized topics like smart gun technology, is equivalent to herding cats. Simply put, not everyone is going to go along with the ideas or arguments presented for smart gun technology. Here are some of the pros and cons:
The concept behind a smart gun, or personalized gun, is to create a firearm that only allows an “authorized user” to fire it. The goal of such technology is to reduce the amount of in-home tragedies and crimes committed with stolen firearms. Smart gun technology is nothing new. In fact, the development of these weapons has been around for quite some time and select models have already been released to the public, like the Armatix iP1, a semi-automatic pistol designed and manufactured in 2006 by the German company, Armatix GmbH. However, the Armatix iP1 faced intense opposition in the states from various gun rights groups who feared the repercussions of introducing the "smart" technology into the market.
The argument that smart gun technology will prevent criminals from using stolen firearms is a universal way to protect the public from further gun violence. A criminal with intentions to harm or commit crime would be unable to use a stolen personalized gun. Even a criminal using their personal firearm as a weapon to cause harm could also be prevented by remotely disabling the device from firing. These benefits are meant to decrease gun violence in America, something the state of New Jersey is a strong proponent of. The supporters of smart gun technology acknowledge the room for failure in a computer operated device but also acknowledge that firearms in their most basic form are also not fail-proof. Keeping new guns out of the hands of criminals is in the best interest for every citizen in the U.S. Such technology can help in preventing people with mental illnesses from using guns, reduce accidental deaths and reduce the illegal gun trade from growing inside and outside of the country.
New Jersey took a strong position on smart gun technology by passing the historically controversial state law, Childproof Handgun Bill, in 2002, mandating that three years after the first smart gun is sold in the state of New Jersey, all guns sold must have a mechanism preventing unauthorized use of the firearm, taking effect three years after such a smart gun is approved by the state. Smart gun technology has already been embraced by many U.S. gun manufacturers, like Glock and Smith & Wesson, but various efforts from gun rights groups and other similar organizations have blocked attempts to introduce them into the country.
Gun rights groups, among other major pro-gun associations like the NRA, are not fearful of the technology itself. Instead, their fear stems from the inevitable cause and effect that will occur due to the New Jersey mandate. Once the first smart gun is sold and three years come to pass, the entire state of New Jersey would be unable to sell any firearm NOT equipped with smart gun technology. These gun rights groups fear that the mandate will lead to more laws that prohibit the sale of firearms which do not possess "smart" technology. The NRA claims that they are opposed to "any law prohibiting Americans from acquiring or possessing firearms that don’t possess 'smart' gun technology."
The idea behind smart gun technology is centered on gun safety along with various other potential benefits, however this technology also presents several significant drawbacks that make the issue hotly debated. People in opposition to smart gun technology worry that it will be used to prohibit the manufacture of traditional handguns, raise their price and allow them to be disabled remotely by the government. The potential mechanical drawbacks of such technology are also a major concern for most gun-owners. If ever legislation is enacted requiring all past, present and future firearms on record to be updated with "smart" technology, then these gun-owners will be, in theory, forced to risk their life due to the very real chance of technology failing them in a moment of self-defense. As with any new technology, there's room for error.
Despite the many benefits of smart technology, many gun owners that carry for self-defense are not in favor of a government entity being able to disable their weapon at any moment. The safety benefits of smart gun technology look good on paper to both opposing and supporting parties, however, the mandate of this technology inevitably produces risk. If the only authorized user is too injured to shoot with their "authorizing" hand, then they instantly become defenseless if their authorizing grip cannot be matched. Or, if the authorized user is injured beyond their ability to protect themselves and needs a separate party to use their weapon in defense, the option would be off the table.
Do the limitations to self-defense due to user or computer error outweigh the benefits of protecting the society as a whole from innocent children to victims of gun crimes? Such a question requires a personal response from every citizen, gun owner or not, as smart gun technology is approaching fast.