I think we ought to raise the age at which juveniles can have a gun. - George W. Bush
I agree that the massacre at Newtown, Connecticut was a mental health problem. But then again, I also question the mental health of anyone who indulges their delusional paranoid fantasies by mentally preparing to unnecessarily exterminate another person when they readily carry a concealed lethal weapon for self defense; especially when pepper spray or a Taser can be just as effective.
I’m sure there are going to be the standard internet memes and straw man arguments like comparing effective transportation such as a car to appliances of death such as a gun, comparing homicides in other countries that have no relevance to the American culture, suggesting disconnected and immaterial analogies that defy logic, portraying policies and technology that are not singularly perfect as thoroughly useless, insisting that guns are an essential part of our society and not a personal indulgence, demonizing influences of media and video games that are a normal part of our society, etc.; but those have already been discussed in other posts.
I believe it is about time we start discussing effective solutions to the recurring and incredibly obvious problem of gun violence in this country….sensible parameters of safe gun ownership and use.
Currently, the proposal is a limit on magazine capacity, a ban on military style assault weapons and background checks for private sale of weapons, either individual or at gun shows.
I recently read an article in Computerworld about advances and proposals in smart gun technology. They reported on some of the following:
1. Grip recognition that would recognize a grip pattern and could be adapted to one or more approved users at the time of sale or by a gun shop
2. RFID technology that would recognize the user’s profile by a chip imbedded under the skin or possibly worn, like a bracelet or a ring. "We've been talking with the New York Police Department about it," Dowling said. "Up to 40% of instances where an officer is shot, they're shot with their own gun. This technology would obviously solve that problem."
3. Biometrics recognition which would not necessarily be attached to the weapon itself, but could be used for physical access to a gun to sign in to access. This would basically be locker technology for safe keeping and authorized use. In institutional applications such as security or law enforcement, this access could be centrally controlled by a network.
4. Firearm microstamping would seem reasonably effective if used in conjunction with smartguns. While not a safety measure in and of itself, it would be yet another method of law enforcement to enforce and prosecute crimes of gun violence.
5. Enable Law Enforcement by allowing automation of data collection such as a database of guns sold in the U.S. Currently, legislation prohibits the ATF from creating such a database or holding background check information for more than 24 hours. Gun traces have to be done manually and take an extensive amount of time.
The Georgia Institute of Technology has developed RFID technology for an Irish company called TriggerSmart. The general manager in Ireland, Joe Dowling, had this to say about smart gun technology:
“I want to keep emphasizing that this is about gun safety and not about gun control," he said. "When you change the climate of discussion from gun control, you have people who might be more willing to talk about novel approaches to improving and increasing the safety without it becoming poisoned as a stealthy approach to gun control, and therefore, throwing the baby out with the bathwater."
These technologies have already been conceived and are already in development. Unfortunately, the funding for this kind of technology has been woefully inadequate in both the public and private sector. It would seem financial support for this kind of thing would make more sense than putting armed guards in every school, as the NRA had suggested. Playing a juvenile game of cops and robbers with live ammunition and rank amateur law enforcement personnel isn’t an effective solution. An arms race, especially in schools, never solved anything.
It is hard to say whether the slaughter in Newtown, Connecticut was a watershed moment for gun violence discussions, but with the high visibility of mass murders appearing more frequently, it would probably be a good idea to promote a less cynical stance from the NRA and have more sensible solutions.