Gun enthusiasts surely remember when the new smart gun model designed by the German manufacturer Berndt Dietel was announced to make its way into American stores in the second half of this year.
The most notorious case is that of Engage Armament in Rockville M.D. The shop announced they will stock their stores with this new smart tech infuse firearm while being unaware of the controversy surrounding it. This decision nearly drove them out of business. Making this gun available is postponed indefinitely due to a legislative block. Some specialists feel that such a smart gun could drastically reduce incidents of gun violence and make gun use safer for inexperienced users (because its smart tech only functions with fingerprint recognition). Paradoxically, this is precisely the issue with the firearm. Let’s take a look at the Armatix iP1 features first and then we will discuss the legislative block in more detail.
The Armatix iP1 gun specs and features
The gun is equipped with a an electronic magazine disconnect (or bracelet) making it super-safe to use assuming the tech works correctly
- It has an operating distance of up to 10 inches
- It is equipped with an integrated drip and drop safety
- Has different operating modes to promote better adjustment to other factors and variables (this makes for better control of results, which again could translate to more safety)
- It also includes different applications such as a camera, or color-coded operating modes via its smart tech nucleus
- The gun is manufactured by Berndt Dietel, and approved by the ATF. The last point is controversial as some people (probably rightly so) feel that Dietel’s group panders to left wing politicians to establish a monopoly in the weapons industry.
Due to the fact that no one but the rightful owner of a smart gun can shoot it, the spread of such a model could drastically reduce the number of gun-related crimes all over the country. Bear in mind, if a criminal takes the owner’s firing bracelet, he or she is free to use the weapon thus negating the ‘safety’ feature. According to official statistics, the number of crimes committed with stolen guns rose to over 11,000 annually. At least 18 police officers were killed with their own guns since 2007. Also, public health officials argue that the introduction of the Armatix iP1 on the market could actually lead to a rise in gun ownership among first time owners who were previously afraid to use firearms. For instance, I could rightfully see worried parents latching onto the smart tech in this firearm. As long as their child doesn’t have access to the electronic bracelet, the gun should (theoretically) be unable to discharge. So, why aren’t we allowing this gun to be sold? This brings us to a still ongoing heated debate, which we will detail further below.
Why Gun Owners Oppose the Smart Gun
The main groups which oppose the Armatix iP1 finding its way into gun stores are actually pro-gun/pro second amendment activists. This may seem counter intuitive at first glance. The best argument against this firearm is that once this gun becomes legal and promoted in mainstream gun stores (along with mainstream sales numbers), the state of New Jersey will pass a law requiring that the same smart tech be built into every gun. That’s a serious infringement into our personal liberties. What’s more, many people feel that other neighboring liberal states would follow suit should the NJ bill go through. Gun control groups could push for it to become the norm, outlawing regular guns. Many gun stores don’t want to sell this item precisely because many of their customers wouldn’t be interested in buying it. So, this technology is really bad for business at the moment. However, the critics crossed the line from enthusiasts to straight up out of control gun nuts when they threatened to kill the owner of Engage Armament for selling the iP1.
The other issue to consider is whether the technology is really reliable enough here. Firearms are first and foremost for self defense. If the watch or gun malfunction, this weapon could end up costing you your life. While I think the idea of a high tech, customizable hand gun is interesting, this technology may be a long way from perfection. On the other hand, good old fashioned hand guns can jam. So, the argument goes both ways.
This isn’t the first time a smart gun project was attempted in the U.S. and beyond. Our nation’s unofficial arms manufacturer, Colt Manufacturing, built a smart gun prototype towards the end of the ‘90s. But guns rights groups boycotted the weapon because it only fired if the wielder wore a ring emitting a specific radio frequency signal. The story repeated itself later in the 2000s, when Smith & Wesson promised to make all their new guns equipped with safe features (due to the requests of the Clinton Administration). But pro second amendment groups again boycotted the company until they dropped this project.
The issue is a very delicate one with issues of rights and freedom which could end up restricting the freedoms of one group or another at the slightest misstep. Even if the topic of safety is highly important beyond any doubt, the larger debate here goes beyond safety and into our personal freedoms. All in all, the emergence of the new gun could definitely tip the scales of the gun rights vs. gun control debate, in either way, which why everyone involved has kept such a close eye on it.