On Wednesday, Computerworld reported that gun maker Armatix plans to bring a 9mm “smart” handgun, dubbed the iP9, to the U.S. market in 2017. The iP9 is Armatix’s second offering for the U.S. market. NRA does not oppose the development of so-called “smart gun technology,” however, NRA does oppose efforts to mandate that this technology be integrated into firearms.
In 2014, Armatix made headlines when it released the iP1, a .22-caliber “smart” handgun that requires the firearm to be within a certain proximity of an accompanying wristwatch in order to operate. Despite that the iP1 pistol and watch combo carry a steep price tag of $1,798, NRA staff tasked with reviewing the iP1 were unimpressed, noting that the firearm was “disappointing at best, and alarming at worst.” In particular, reviewers noted the firearm’s unreliability, terrible trigger, and cumbersome controls. Upon the release of the iP1, Armatix and a gun store in Maryland that planned to stock the gun were criticized by some in the gun rights community, in part because there were concerns that the sale of the firearm would trigger harsh restrictions on the sale of handguns in New Jersey.
In 2002, New Jersey enacted a law that requires the attorney general to monitor the “availability of personalized handguns for retail sales purposes.” The law states,
For the purposes of this section, personalized handguns shall be deemed to be available for retail sales purposes if at least one manufacturer has delivered at least one production model of a personalized handgun to a registered or licensed wholesale or retail dealer in New Jersey or any other state.
Once the attorney general determines that there is a “personalized” handgun available for retail sale, it triggers a scenario where the superintendent of the state police must “promulgate a list of personalized handguns that may be sold in the State.” The sale of standard handguns would be prohibited.
In November 2014, the New Jersey attorney general concluded that the iP1 did not meet New Jersey’s statutory criteria for a “personalized” handgun, as the firearm could be fired by anyone as long as it was within a certain proximity of its accompanying wristwatch. Therefore, sale of the iP1 did not trigger the New Jersey ban on standard handguns.
According to Computerworld, the $1,365 iP9 will use a fingerprint reader to operate. Therefore, depending on the New Jersey attorney general’s interpretation of state law and whether they choose to respect the U.S. Supreme Court’s holding in District of Columbia v. Heller that protects firearms “in common use,” sale of the iP9 could implicate the N.J. handgun ban in a manner that the iP1 did not.
According to the report, Armatix CEO Wolfgang Tweraser is still making “final adjustments” to the iP9, but appears eager to get the handgun to market. The article notes that, “Several large U.S. retail stores have already met with Armatix,” and that, “The company has also been meeting with police departments, which it sees as a key demographic for the smart gun.” The item also contends that Tweraser “is in the process of establishing sales staff in several states, beginning with Florida.”
Given NRA members’ interest in all things firearms, as well as the implications that the sale of the iP9 could have for state firearms law, NRA will continue to monitor this situation closely and apprise our members of any new developments.