IN April, the Obama Administration announced plans to accelerate the development of so-called “smart gun” (a term proponents use with a straight face and apparently no sense of irony) technology, which promises to make us safer by rendering our life- and liberty-preserving firepower less likely to function.

As for specifics, first, of course, more taxpayer money will be needed for the pursuit of the elusive magic gun that only shoots bad guys (preferably government- designated bad guys).

The Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security are hard at work developing a list of criteria for gun manufacturers to consult when attempting to design a “smart gun” that will be acceptable for use by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.

Yes, you read that right—the federal government has put itself in charge of determining the needs of state and local law enforcement officers.

As the New York Times put it, there are also plans to make it “cheaper for gun manufacturers to bring smart guns to the market and by using the federal government’s enormous purchasing power to encourage development.”

For the federal government to exercise “enormous purchasing power” in the small arms market, it would seem the idea here must be for the military to buy these guns. However, we have seen some pretty surprising federal agencies (Department of Education and National Weather Service, for example) buying some pretty surprising amounts of firepower. Still, the truly “enormous” money for the federal small arms budget goes to the military.

And now it appears that “gun control” advocates are in danger of painting themselves into a rather amusing corner. They tell us that so-called “assault weapons” are inappropriate for private citizens, because the “military features” of these semi-automatic, detachable magazine-fed rifles make them “weapons of war,” to be wielded only by America’s fighting men and women on the battlefield.

Well, now it appears that “smart gun” technology is to become a “military feature,” too. For the battlefield only, right, gun-ban zealots?

That, of course, is the direct opposite of the direction the forcible citizen disarmament advocates undoubtedly really want to go. Obama presumably chose the military and law enforcement as the first to be stuck with “smart guns” simply because he and his minions have far more ability to control their firearm purchases than is the case with private citizens (and oh, how that must rankle).

Granted, the Administration has taken pains to claim they are not proposing a mandate for the new gadgetry. The sincerity of that claim is wide open to questioning, though. The Obama Presidency, after all, is in its last year.

Any decision as large as replacing the entire military’s small arms arsenal will take much longer than that (offand- on efforts to find replacements for the M16/M4 rifles and M9 pistols have dragged on for years). Therefore, any such decision will be made by an Administration in no way beholden to Obama’s “no mandate” promise.

And let’s be clear: no sane fighting man or woman will choose to carry a “smart gun” into battle unless given no choice in the matter. Battlefield weapons are subject to brutal conditions and abuses, and need to be absolutely dead-reliable regardless.

That’s impossible, yet vast amounts of money and effort are endlessly put into coming as close as possible to that unattainable goal.

So-called “smart guns,” on the other hand, put enormous amounts of effort, at enormous expense, into moving in exactly the wrong direction with regard to reliability. The “advantage” of such guns, remember, is an increased tendency to fail to fire when the trigger is pulled—that’s when the technology works perfectly.

And of course, the technology often will not work perfectly. Any additional complexity in the design and construction of any machine introduces new ways for the machine to malfunction.

When you add active electronics to the mix—and all the “smart gun” proposals I’ve seen rely on electronics— you introduce an entire new set of possible failures, from dead batteries to wet circuitry to wires jarred loose by recoil.

There is also the fact that anything electronic is subject to hacking. Anything electronic that can communicate with the outside world—and most proposed “smart gun” technology would— can be hacked remotely. Potential future enemies such as the Russians, Chinese, North Koreans, Iranians, and a whole host of others, many with a very advanced understanding of cyber-shenanigans, are undoubtedly watching these developments with keen interest and probably some gleeful anticipation.

All that should be enough to convince anyone with our troops’ best interests (not to mention our national security) at heart to categorically reject “smart guns,” but really, it shouldn’t even take that much. Several years ago, the Colorado Springs Police Department traded their Smith & Wesson 9mm duty pistols in for a new model. Still Smith & Wesson, still 9mm, but the new model came without a certain “safety feature” that the previous model had.

Nothing nearly so complex, delicate, or failure-prone as “smart gun” technology, just a magazine disconnect safety. Such a mechanism does undoubtedly reduce the risk of a distracted or otherwise inattentive gun owner or officer forgetting that removing the magazine does nothing to unload the chamber, and then firing a round unintentionally, with potentially disastrous results.

But it also makes for a heavier trigger pull, and thus a gun more difficult to fire accurately. The department apparently concluded that officers trained to never think a gun is unloaded, and equipped to shoot accurately under enormous stress, are safer than officers whose negligence can be compensated for mechanically—at the cost of being less capable of prevailing in a gunfight.

Law enforcement officers and service personnel are the first intended victims of Obama’s “smart gun” push but, if this gambit succeeds, will not be the last. It must not be allowed to succeed.

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