As our leaders begin the uncertain political debate over gun control, there is a simple and straightforward policy solution right now that would uphold gun owners' 2nd amendment rights and still keep our kids safer.
It's called "smart gun technology."
The system is similar to "smart technology" already in use for things like cars, iPhones and security doors. A computer microchip measures the bio-metric details of the person attempting to activate the product. If the details match the rightful owner, the device is "enabled." If the details don't match, the device will not work or open.
The most reliable smart gun technology involves a grip recognition system. There are 16 digital sensor chips embedded in the handle. The computerized sensors capture the unique pattern and pressure of your grip, plus the specific size of your hand. If someone else tries to use the gun, the information will not match the stored pattern of the gun owner's -- and the weapon will not fire.
As I discussed on my radio show "Take Action News," this technology, as well as similar versions involving fingerprint recognition, could be embedded in guns today. But for years, the National Rifle Association has blocked these efforts, in part because they would make guns costlier to produce and purchase.
The NRA has also insisted that smart gun technology would infringe upon the second amendment. Constitutional experts say that argument is absurd. The Constitution allows for all kinds of product regulations. And it was the lack of political will, not a court ruling, that caused the ban on assault weapons to lapse during the Bush administration and not be renewed.
The best argument against smart gun technology is a logistical one. It could prevent a homeowner who wrestles away an intruder's gun from firing it back at them.
I think we can agree, however, that such MacGyver-like situations are exceedingly rare. And the fact is, 10 to 15 percent of guns used in home invasions, robberies and mass shootings are weapons that have been stolen.
Furthermore, smart gun technology allows for multiple biometric "identities" to be stored in one gun. This would solve a problem for police or members of the military who may want to have the option of "sharing weapons."
In the case of the Connecticut massacre, is it possible that Adam Lanza's mother, a gun enthusiast who reportedly took her sons to the range, would have embedded Adam's biometric data on her weapons if that was possible? Sure. But family baby sitters have told reporters that Nancy Lanza repeatedly urged "caution" around Adam and was worried about his behavioral problems.
Connecticut law enforcement officials say the shooting spree began last Friday when Adam Lanza took his mother's weapons and used at least one of them on her, shooting her multiple times in the head.
Lanza then took his mother's two pistols and a semi-automatic assault weapon to Sandy Hook Elementary School. At the front entrance, he blasted his way through a glass security door, gunned down several adults including the principal and a school psychologist, and went into a first grade class where he quickly killed 15 children and their teacher.
Lanza then went to another classroom, shot five more children and their teacher, and then took his own life to end the rampage.
The weapons Adam Lanza relied on were not his. They belonged to his mother, the only person entitled to use them. And while she may have taught her son how to fire the weapons at shooting ranges over the years, she was the sole owner of the weapons, not him.
If smart technology had been in place, the weapons would have likely been useless to Adam Lanza.
And that's the point. Congress and the President should begin their new effort at preventing mass shootings by mandating something that might have made a different in Newtown, Conn. -- require smart gun technology in all weapons. Just as our nation insists on basic quality standards for cars, houses, tools, air, water, and etc, insisting on basic features for all weapons that may be "fired" is perfectly reasonable.
It's not about taking guns away. It's about making sure that guns can't be fired by anybody but their lawful owners.
Is that too much to ask?
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