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Are we going big brother on guns? Should we? Does the Second Amendment right to bear arms guarantee a right to bear arms that are not tech-locked against a particular user?
Questions like these are at the very heart of the case of Pena v. Lindley, a gun safety lawsuit that's been many years in the making but now is finally closing in on the issue of how America regards guns.
Smart Guns and Forced Safety Measures
The case of Pena v. Lindley concerns whether or not California statutory law can force manufacturers to adopt two new additional safety measures: a technological safety that will keep the gun from firing a round already loaded in the chamber if the magazine has been ejected, and a safety that indicates a loaded chamber. At least, this is the issue currently being debated now.
The district court already ruled in favor of government regulation by declaring that the law was not a violation of the second Amendment. Since the petitioning of review, the landscape of gun-safety debate has only gotten more vitriolic -- and potentially profitable.
The broader issue involves whether or not gun manufacturers must be required to develop safety measures to make guns safer. Some of this new tech includes RF technology, pressure sensitive handles, and user ID gadgetry -- all designed to make the gun specific to a single person.
This is all very reminiscent of teeth gnashing and groaning by car manufacturers and government nannies fighting over whether or not seatbelts should be mandated in cars. What people seem to forget is that safety belts were very much considered to be an oddity in cars until the mid 60s. Now, they're a requirement in the majority of states, practically mandating that we wear them anytime the wheels are turning.
Who's Doing the Enforcing?
By now, many of us have forgotten the ugly and dramatic backstory of why we throw a safety belt over our laps every time we get behind the wheel -- or if we own pistols, why we throw the safety switch off.
The aim of pro-safety advocates is to eliminate "accidental deaths" by firearms. A noble goal, but unrealistic. After all, we still have auto-deaths despite the advances in safety measures -- and no one expects that number ever to reach zero.
In the end, the more sensible move is to let demand dictate which direction gun evolution should take. People react poorly to government mandates, especially business. But if consumer tastes in handguns move toward increased safety measures, gun manufacturers will move in that direction. Perhaps the soft-power touch regarding firearms might even be the most effective way for people to adopt new and pioneering safety measures.