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At JPFO, we tend to take a very dim view of any possibility of so-called "smart gun" technology becoming legally required. Legislation to do just that has been introduced in numerous state legislatures, and in Congress, and such a law actually exists in New Jersey, waiting only for the state's attorney general to certify that such a handgun is now available. The Brady Campaign is so eager to make that happen that they have filed a lawsuit against Attorney General John Jay Hoffman, in an attempt to limit New Jersey handgun buyers to the one so-called "smart gun" now in production.
The existence of the technology is not itself a problem for gun owners, except in the sense that while it is not yet available, no government can very well pass laws requiring that all guns (or at least all handguns) have it.
Some in the very young "smart gun" industry clearly have very untoward intentions regarding the right to keep and bear arms, as JPFO contributor David Codrea illustrates, pointing to the cozy relationship between Armatix (makers of the grotesquely overpriced, ridiculously unreliable, and woefully underpowered for self-defense iP1 "smart gun") and the UN's global forcible citizen disarmament efforts.
The National Review, on the other hand, informs us that when U.S. Attorney General (and gun ban zealot) Eric Holder expressed interest in turning the technology against American gun owners, Kodiak Arms' W.P. Gentry told him where he could stuff that idea:
Bravo, Mr. Gentry. That is indeed a principled stand.
Intelligun image, Kodiak Arms
If Kodiak's "Intelligun" lives up to its billing, it would be far superior to the Armatix iP1. Not a complete gun, but a "smart" device to be retrofitted to an existing M-1911 style handgun (with more models apparently on the way), the $399 price tag, even when the price of a pistol is added, is far less than the $1,400 for the Armatix iP1 (plus another $400 for the "magic wristwatch" needed to activate it), unless the buyer insists on a high-end custom model 1911.
With a claimed failure rate of 1 in 10,000, that would make it about 1,000 times as reliable as the Armatix. Compared to the iP1's anemic .22 rimfire round, 1911s can be chambered in such powerful rounds as the .45 ACP (obviously), 10mm Auto, .400 Cor-bon, .45 Super, and .460 Rowland, just to name a few.
But this might be the most encouraging difference between the two:
One possible remaining concern is that as an electronic device, the Intelligun would presumably still be subject to being disabled by EMP (electromagnetic pulse) devices, which could thus work just like a 'kill switch" for "smart guns."
And, whether Gentry intends this or not--and it very strongly appears that he does not--the release of this technology on the market does indeed increase the risk that laws mandating it will follow. In the case of New Jersey, that law is already on the books, just waiting for the first smart gun on the market--which is why shops intending to sell the Armatix iP1 have faced such outrage from gun owners. If a legal mandate for use of the technology is enough to make him "burn it down," shouldn't he have lit the match a long time ago?
In fairness, the fact that the "Intelligun" is not a gun itself, but a "smart" retrofit, to be added to an existing handgun, might mean that its appearance on the market will not be enough to trigger (no pun intended) New Jersey's law. Then again, any gun shop that stocks both 1911s and the "Intelligun" devices could install them themselves, and thus sell completed "smart guns," which would presumably ensure that New Jersey's law goes into effect.
And there's another concern. As a battery-powered device, the Intelligun attachment suffers from the inherent reduced reliability that comes with reliance on fresh batteries. Kodiak has come up with a good response to that problem--but that solution is not to be made available to us lowly private citizens:
Granted, a private citizen whose gun's battery has died can manually override the device with a key, but how likely is he or she to find the time to do that in a mortal confrontation?
And why is Gentry, with his vow that his technology will not be used to restrict freedom, more willing to trust the government's hired muscle with guns whose default setting is to fire every time the trigger is pulled, with or without batteries, than he is to trust private citizens with that same vital feature? Why are they the "Only Ones" worthy of that trust?
Gentry is clearly far better for American gun owners than the people behind Armatix, but that's still not good enough.
A former paratrooper, Kurt Hofmann was paralyzed in a car accident in 2002. The helplessness inherent to confinement to a wheelchair prompted him to explore armed self-defense, only to discover that Illinois denies that right, inspiring him to become active in gun rights advocacy. He also writes the St. Louis Gun Rights Examiner column. Kurt Hofmann Archive.