Skip to main content

The Handgun Trigger Safety Act: Gun control through technology

Written By | Apr 17, 2014

WASHINGTON, April 17, 2014 — Pro-gun and anti-gun legislation and efforts have become the litmus test for potential candidates for federal office as well as incumbents who wish to remain in their seats.

On the Republican side, Congressmen like Steve Stockman, R-Texas, are introducing legislation aimed at preventing federal money from being used to fund efforts to register or confiscate firearms from citizens. This is a response to the fear that many gun owners in this country have that the federal government will use registration to eventually seize firearms from the American public.

The Democratic approach towards gun control seems to be taking a turn towards the tactic of dissuasion. The traditional style of gun control through direct bans and fierce anti-gun campaigns has failed. Semi-automatic weapons bans, magazine bans, and features bans on firearms have for the most part stalled or failed to gain enough traction to become law.

Instead of trying to outright ban or restrict ownership of certain kinds of weapons, Democratic Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts, has decided to introduce S.2068, the Handgun Trigger Safety Act of 2014.

S.2068 calls for grant money, up to $2 million, for companies, individuals, and states, to research technology that would lead to the personalization of firearms.

A personalized handgun, according to the bill, is a firearm which:

  • enables only an authorized user of the handgun to fire the handgun;
  • was manufactured in such a manner that the firing restriction described is incorporated into the design of the handgun;
  • is not sold as an accessory;
  • and cannot be readily removed or deactivated.

The bill calls for institutions such as schools and companies to apply for grants for technology to personalize both new and old firearms.

The plan, according to the text of the legislation, is to completely transform the firearms industry with regard to handguns over the next several years.

According to the bill, “Beginning on the date that is 2 years after the date of enactment of this Act, no person may manufacture in the United States a handgun that is not a personalized handgun.”

It says later that, “Beginning on the date that is 3 years after the date of enactment of this Act, no person may distribute in commerce any handgun that is not a personalized handgun or a retrofitted personalized handgun.”

The law would essentially make it illegal to make or sell a gun that is not personalized, new or old.

The law specifically states that owner of the firearm may send it to the manufacturer, and the manufacturer “may not request compensation from the owner.”

The Democrats failed at gun control through direct action. Now they seek to transform the gun industry and infringe even more on what is left of the free market in the United States. If there were a need or a call for personalized weapons, there would be personalized weapons. The fact that the government needs to pass a law to force such massive changes on an industry is evidence of a much deeper disdain for firearms owners and manufactures.

This law affords the government too much regulation and control over the firearms industry.

What if the law passes, the two and three year no-sale or manufacture deadline comes, and no personalized technology has been accepted and implemented by the U.S. government? This bill essentially gives the government power over the handgun market of U.S. manufacturers as well as importers. If these companies do not comply, they do not get to sell their product to private individuals in the United States.

They do however, get to sell to the United States military. The law makes an exception for manufacturers of non-personalized handguns if those handguns are manufactured for or sold to the Department of Defense.

This is the typical government attitude towards gun control and gun rights in general. This is the typical way that Democrats classify Americans; they are either government, in which case they are exempt from many laws and punishments, or they are ordinary citizens, subject to the full force and weight of the judicial system. This law, like most gun laws, would be in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, as it does not apply equally to all American citizens.

But government classism does not stop at exemptions concerning this bill. Under the “Authorized User” definition, someone authorized to use a personalized handgun is the owner, an owner authorized user, and “any individual who is authorized, under the law of the State where the firearm is being used, to own, carry, or use a firearm in the State.”

That is, your firearm, which only you and those people you designate can use, can also be used by those not authorized by you, but authorized by the State you happen to be in.

The push to regulate guns through technology is relatively new, arguably the results of failed federal gun control legislation. There is serious money behind this push to personalize firearms. Mayor Bloomberg and his newly launched group Every Town for Gun Safety includes finding smart gun solutions as a key part of their “gun safety” efforts over the next few years, and the $50 million they pumped into the group is more than enough to get companies interested in the smart-gun game.

However the push from the gun-control groups to “personalize” guns and to make them “smarter” has a much deeper and lasting intention than to promote what they call “gun safety.” If we look at the two groups who would be most affected by these changes, we see the true agenda behind their efforts. And those groups are the reclusive, private gun owners, and the gun manufacturers.

This law will hit that section of very private, almost reclusive gun owners very hard. Most gun owners are very privacy oriented in the first place, they don’t like giving out their address or phone number if they don’t know the person, and they of course won’t like the government telling them that they have to own smart-guns. Many would most likely refuse such an order and choose to become criminals instead of obeying the rule. They become criminals, they get convicted, they don’t get to vote for Republicans anymore. To Democrats it seems like a win-win situation.

Just how will the government be keeping track of who has retrofitted existing handguns and who has not? How will they be able to tell which of the millions of handguns in the country have been changed to comply with the new law? The only way that can happen is by forcing gun registration, or if a national gun registry already exists, which is a violation of the law.

The second group is the gun manufacturers. By forcing gun makers to bear the cost of re-designing their weapons, and manufacturing techniques, as well as the substantial cost of retrofitting customer submitted weapons for compliance, the Democrats handicap the ability of a very large donor pool from making significant contributions to the gun lobby.

Is this push for smart-gun technology about gun-safety? For some it probably is, for those people who genuinely care about reducing gun accidents and gun crime in this country, this is all about gun safety. But for those in power it is an open door to crush the gun industry under crippling costs, and to dissuade gun owners from purchasing firearms. It is about government control, government exceptionalism, and the effort by those on the left to eventually disarm the American people through the guise of “gun safety.”

Laws such as these are stepping stones towards greater control by the government. If we allow the government to fundamentally transform the handgun market, then soon they will be doing it with rifles and shotguns. Laws and efforts such as these, which use tax payer money to infringe upon tax payer rights, need to be watched carefully and those who sponsor and co-sponsor these bills need to know that their flagrant disregard for the rights and privacy of the American gun owner will not and does not go unnoticed.


Read, follow, share @bckprchpolitics and Back Porch Politics on Facebook

Conor Higgins

Conor Higgins has a BA from Catholic University in DC and an MA form George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, both in history. When he not getting his hands dirty in 2nd Amendment and firearms news he is doing his best to take a crack at some drive-by political analysis. And every now and then he may or may not review a low end bourbon for the tax write off. Sit back, relax, and enjoy Back Porch Politics.