Every time an incident of “gun violence” makes national news someone comes out with a proposal to further restrict or control firearms ownership and usage. The latest coming from Eric Holder is to use electronic technology. Either the gun will have a built in finger print scanner that will prevent anyone other than the owner from using it, or some form of electronic bracelet that the user must wear to activate the gun’s internal mechanisms and make it usable. Either way is a bad idea and both should be considered violations of the constitutional Second Amendment right.
The reader might recall those bumper stickers or placards that read “What part of ‘shall not be infringed’ don’t you understand?” The answer is simple; the gun grabbers don’t understand any part of it. But what is rarely articulated regarding that simple phrase is that is clearly and completely denies the federal government any jurisdiction over firearms. This fact has been ignored for decades, and the Second Amendment lobbyists have probably done so because they realize that it will be essentially impossible for the rule to be enforced as written any time soon. This does not obviate its clear presence.
But returning to the subject matter, requiring such technology constitutes an infringement and may well prevent people from using their weapons for the legitimate purpose that we hope they never have to use them for; defense of themselves, their families and their property. It will certainly make firearms more expensive, and thereby, less accessible to those who need them most; people who live in areas with high crime rates. This technology would also make the weapons less useful. When seconds count, you don’t want to have to fumble for the activation device while getting the gun out and preparing to use it if necessary. Time is off the essence. You don’t’ want to have anything making the process longer than necessary. Lives could be at stake. At the same time, if a gun is fingerprint keyed to one individual, then it prevents another family member, for example, from using it legitimately as well. This defeats the purpose of having a defense mechanism in the home or wherever it may be needed.
But more to the point is something that stems from the age-old argument that when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. The simple fact is that requiring guns in the US to be technology locked denies the fact that not every nation around the world will follow suit. Today the USA-Mexican border is a hotbed of illegal crossings by people smuggling themselves, or equally frequently, drugs. Now, the federal agents want to add guns to the mix. There is already a black market for many things in the US. Guns are, unfortunately, included, but they are a minor part of the mix compared to, for example, drugs. Introduce this technology requirement into the market and you have instantly created another way for the Mexican cartels and other organized criminal entities to profit from sales in the USA. And they won’t be the only ones. So, when technology becomes part of the law, only outlaws will have guns that are not “technologically safe.” Count on the crime cartels to get into providing non-locked guns ASAP, as well. This may well present a major problem for the average citizen, while the politicians and wealthy have their bodyguards and won’t care.
But then there is another problem, and that problem stems from the technology, itself. We have, today, a tremendous problem with financial hacking and identity theft. How long will it take before someone finds a way to “jailbreak” the supposed safety features? Not long is the likely correct response. the more people depend on technological fixes, the more ways are found around them. Then, even the supposedly safe guns may be safe, no longer. The purpose of the technology will be defeated, and depend on people doing this, despite laws to the contrary. After all, crimes occur every day, despite the laws. What’s a few more, given the circumstances.
But even more important is another serious question; the question of who controls the safety measures and how. Consider, that the technology suggested by Holder could purportedly deactivate firearms in specific public buildings. This same technology could be used by the government to disarm citizens by turning their guns “off.” This flies in the face of the Jeffersonian concept that the last resort of a free people is rebellion against tyranny. Tyrants rarely consider themselves to be wrong in instituting tyrannical government. The people may disagree. If the government has an “off switch” how long will it be before criminals develop the same thing to disarm their victims as well. Again, the probably correct answer is “not long.”
And then there is the question of using the electronics to track gun owners in the same manner as cell phone technology can be used, and the question of whether or not this is a Fourth Amendment search and seizure violation. This same technology was proposed by Holder, which should indicate a significant warning. The ability to track and later confiscate privately held arms becomes an even greater possibility. Ignore Holder’s occasional references to people enjoying their Second Amendment rights. They are a sham. If confiscation was possible today, it would already have happened. You can count on people like him seeking ways to make it possible, to secure their personal power.
In any event, it should be a constitutional violation for the government to track privately held guns for the simple reason that there is no cause to track law abiding citizens only because they own a gun or a cell phone or a computer. The government should have no right to such information because the people in question have done no wrong. Implementing tracking technology eliminates the need for a search warrant by implementing an electronic blanket warrant at the national level. But such blanket warrants have been consistently held as illegal by the courts. Thus, the use of technology becomes an end run around the law in the supposed name of public safety.
Finally, the issue of whether or not an otherwise law abiding person might commit a crime in the future was addressed admirably in the movie “The Minority Report.” The fact is that every person has the potential to do wrong or not, and the potential that someone might is no basis for making them a criminal suspect. As the movie pointed out, everyone has a free choice at any time. You do not punish anyone until they have done something wrong. Believing that they might and requiring safeguards to prevent it creates the police state that free people abhor and which would be tyrants crave.
Technology can be an efficient and convenient servant, but it can also be an extremely fickle one. The more we depend on technology to solve our problems the more we become dependent on something that can easily be turned against us. Just as bigger and more powerful government is not the solution, more technology is not either. It is not worth the risks brought about by implementation. Things are better off as they are, with proper enforcement against people who break the laws, rather than finding new laws for people to break, just so government can make the case that it cares about public safety.