LAW & PUBLIC SAFETY

NJ Smart Gun Law Has Seemingly Stalled Sales

By Erin Delmore
Correspondent

You can close your garage door or turn on your air conditioner when you’re not even home.

Today’s cell phones are customizable and secure.

So where are the personalized handguns?

They’re not just the lore of Hollywood any more.

One, by Armatix, fires only when it’s within inches of a watch that wirelessly sends a signal to the gun. And NJIT is working on a biometric gun that would read palm prints and fire only for its owner.

They’re called “smart guns.” They’re cutting-edge and available on the global market. But two decades of research and millions of dollars later, they’re far from flying off store shelves.

To understand why, look to a 13-year-old New Jersey law — the 2002 Childproof Handgun Act, sponsored by New Jersey State Sen. Loretta Weinberg.

The law says that three years after the first “smart gun” goes on sale anywhere in the country, New Jersey firearms dealers can sell only smart guns.

And that has critics up in arms.

“That’s ludicrous. I mean really, when you think about it, we have almost 9 million people in the state of New Jersey, and we’re gonna limit what they can buy based on one or two small manufacturers’ design? It’s a flawed bill from day one,” said Anthony Colandro.

Weinberg was introduced to smart guns by Jacob Locicero, who lost his daughter Amy in the 1993 Long Island Rail Road Massacre.

“He came to me and he said have you ever heard of a smart gun? And I remember the moment and I said, ‘No and I don’t want to’ because sort of, I thought he was sort of talking about a kind of gun that could shoot… by itself? He said, ‘No, no, no, let me explain it to you.’ So that’s back in 1996. There were people looking into this kind of technology. We haven’t moved very far since then,” Weinberg said.

They saw the assault weapons ban pass, then expire. They watched the fight against high-capacity magazines, which went nowhere. And now, they’ve just about given up.

“I don’t know, I’m getting… I guess jaded, is the thing. So when people talk of smart guns, good luck. If you can show me something, I’m not against it, but I’m certainly not holding my breath waiting for that to come down the pipe,” Jacob said.

Weinberg says the law was intended to entice manufactures into perfecting smart gun technology, and now she says it backfired.

“I received numerous death threats today,” said Andy Raymond, a Maryland store owner who was intimidated out of selling a smart gun model last year, out of fear of triggering the New Jersey law.

So Sen. Weinberg offered to repeal it outright, as long as the NRA agreed not to publicly stand in the way of smart gun development.

“And then I got dead silence,” she said.

This fall, Sen. Weinberg plans to amend the 2002 legislation.