'Smart Guns' are Safer Guns

New Jersey's state legislature has defied the state's gangsta rap again, with a recent first-in-the-nation vote requiring all new handguns sold to carry technology that allows only their owners to fire them.

(Earlier, the state took another gun-control lead as the first to require guns be sold with trigger locks.)

Even though such "smart gun" technology is not yet fully developed, New Jersey takes an appropriate gun- safety step by putting such a requirement in place.

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Smart guns use sensors in a gun's grip wired to a microchip inside the gun. The chip "remembers" an individual owner's hand grip, and thus prevents the gun from firing if anyone else attempts to use it. Once the technology is determined to be safe and workable (in an expected two years), the New Jersey law requires the technology to be phased in over three years.

The safety ramifications for this move are significant. Smart guns can help prevent accidental deaths or suicides. Gun accidents, including suicides, took the lives of 1,200 children and teens in 2000 in the US. Further, some 18,000 young people aged 19 or younger were injured by firearms, and 1,776 were killed in homicides according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Now that Congress has approved pilots carrying guns on commercial airplanes as a security measure, issuing smart guns to them could help prevent those weapons from being grabbed and used by anyone else.

Smart guns would also be rendered useless if stolen.

Even though the weapon was a rifle, not a handgun, in the recent Washington sniper case, the gun couldn't have been used by the two individuals involved, had it been "smart."

Though New Jersey is first to make the move, Tennessee, New York, and Ohio are already considering similar smart-gun measures. They'll have to stand up to the NRA, which has said it will retaliate against New Jersey Democrats for passing the bill, and no doubt will be at the ready to put pressure on other statehouses to keep them from passing similar legislation.

That should not deter them.

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