This week, Attorney General Eric Holder testified on Capitol Hill that what America needs at this pivotal moment in its history is to spend $2 million for "smart" gun technology, as part of a $382 million expenditure on what the Obama administration calls "gun safety."
Translation: Federal "universal" background checks, "assault weapon," and "large" magazine legislation was defeated in the Senate and not voted upon in the House of Representatives last year, and gun control supporters need something else to talk about.
During his testimony, Holder voiced support for devices that would prevent firearms from being used by anyone other than their lawful owners. A common hypothetical along those lines would be to rig a firearm so that it could not fire unless it received an electronic signal from an electronic bracelet worn by the firearm's lawful owner.
Some commentators concluded that Holder endorsed "gun tracking" technology. Whether or not he specifically had that in mind, it does serve to raise questions about where such technology could lead or, more to the point, where gun control supporters would want it to lead.
Just as gun control supporters embrace "universal" background checks as a step toward a universal registry of firearms and their owners, they surely support "smart" gun technology on the basis that it could be used to disable firearms entirely.
Put simply, if a device, such as a bracelet, could turn a firearm "on" via an electronic signal, another device could send an electronic signal that turns firearms "off." Such technology is already in use in automobiles, for example, to help motorists locked out of their cars and to track and disable vehicles taken by thieves. There are surely those who would be happy to adapt this technology to firearms, and to legally mandate its use, fundamental human liberties be damned.
As the rate of technological development accelerates, the challenge to defending our rights will become more varied and complex. Gun owners should remain educated and informed, and understand that while some technologies offer the promise of convenience and safety, they may also create new avenues of abuse and restriction.