Here we go again. Now that gun homicides have recently shown an alarming upward trend, plus Americans keep buying guns at record levels to protect themselves from Covid-19, the State of New Jersey for the second time has passed a law mandating the sale of ‘smart’ guns.

              A ‘smart’ gun is what we call a gun equipped with some kind of electronic gizmo that keeps anyone from shooting the gun unless the gizmo recognizes a fingerprint or a handprint, or some other physiological identifier belonging to the legal owner of the gun.

              New Jersey tried to promote this strategy back in 2002 when a law was passed which required every gun dealer in the state to sell only smart guns once such a gun was available for sale. Unfortunately, the dealers weren’t able to comply with the law because there just weren’t any smart guns available to be sold.

              This time around, the law will only go into effect when at least one gun with a smart gizmo is tested and approved by a Commission appointed by the Governor, a group which will set the ‘standards’ for how the gun will be designed and how it will be tested to see if it actually works.

              The Commission will be comprised of seven members, including someone who promotes gun ‘rights,’ someone else who supports gun control, someone who is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, someone who is an engineer with ‘substantial experience’ in radio frequency or biometric reading technology, and of course representatives from relevant state agencies like the Department of Health and the State Police.

              Last month Governor Murphy announced the first four appointments to the Commission, noting that these individuals were all “leaders in their fields.” These leaders are an attending physician at a medical center, two government lobbyists and a young man who claims to be selling a biometric holster on a website for $249 bucks. 

              Now I can walk into any gun shop and for $49.95 buy a small, biometric gun safe which will only open if I know the electronic combination which I enter by pressing my fingers in the correct order onto the safe’s front door. Why would I want to spend another $200 to yank my gun out of a holster instead of yanking it out of a little safe?

              Oh, I forgot. The company whose owner is going to serve on this smart gun commission is described in the Governor’s announcement as a ‘startup.’ Know what the word ‘startup’ means in business terms? It means a company which has a 75% chance of failing within three years.

              But there’s a more important reason why this whole initiative is going to fail, and it’s the same reason that New Jersey’s last attempt to bring a smart gun into the gun market failed and why the very first attempt to create a smart gun product also failed.

              Want to make a biometric device? It’s simple. Go to China and make a deal with any one of a dozen different companies which manufacture biometric devices. They’ll sell you as many gizmos as you like.

              Now bring the gizmo back to the United States, give it to me and I’ll connect the gizmo to the sear of a pistol, the sear is the internal part which controls whether the gun actually works when the trigger is pulled.

              So now I have a gun which will only fire when the person who puts his finger on the gizmo’s scanner is the person who set the scanner to recognize his fingerprint. To which Grandpa would say ‘nu?’ Which means – now what?

              You still have to market and sell the gun! You think Gaston Glock came over here and took the handgun business away from Smith & Wesson just because he replaced the firing pin with a striker pin? You think that Beretta replaced the Colt-1911 handgun with their M92 just because their gun was chambered for 9mm instead of 45acp?

              None of these well-intentioned efforts to create a smart gun has ever involved anyone who had any connection to the gun industry at all. But we don’t need to know anything about the gun market in order to design, produce and sell a new gun.