I’ve read a lot of ignorant things on the editorial pages of the New York Times—after all, they employ Paul Krugman and David Brooks—but I’m forced to wonder if they’ve given up on even the illusion of self-respect, now that I’ve read this howler from Joe Nocera:
So why can’t we childproof guns? In an age of technological wizardry — not to mention a time of deep sensitivity to the welfare of children — why can’t we come up with a technology that would keep a gun from going off when it is being held by a child? Or, for that matter, by a thief using a stolen gun? Or an angry teenager who is plotting to use his parents’ arsenal to wreak havoc in a mall?
It turns out — why is this not a surprise? — that such technologies already exist. A German company, Armartix, will soon be marketing a pistol that uses radio frequencies that prevent a gun from being used by anyone except its owner. At the New Jersey Institute of Technology, the senior vice president for research and development, Donald Sebastian, has long spearheaded an effort to develop biometrics for “gun personalization,” as it’s called. Guns employing this technology fire only when they recognize the hand of the owner. There are others who have invented similar technologies.
Why aren’t these lifesaving technologies in widespread use? No surprise here, either: The usual irrational opposition from the National Rifle Association and gun absolutists, who claim, absurdly, that a gun that only can be fired by its owner somehow violates the Second Amendment. Pro-gun bloggers were furious when they saw James Bond, in “Skyfall,” proudly showing off his new biometrically protected weapon. They were convinced it was a Hollywood plot to undermine their rights.
Nocera isn’t just spinning here; he’s either flagrantly lying, or blatantly incompetent. He and his hack assistant Jennifer Mascia either covered up or made no attempt at all to seek out what radio legend Paul Harvey would call “the rest of the story.”
There have been, for decades, attempts to create devices to keep unauthorized users from firing firearms. The overwhelming majority of these devices have been developed with the law enforcement market in mind, because of the relatively high percentage of police officers murdered with their own firearms. There have been attempts to use magnets, electronics, radio signals, micro-processors, biometrics and other devices to restrict the access of firearms to authorized users only.
They’ve been tested by manufacturers. They’ve been examined by the military, as well as deep-pocketed law enforcement agencies on the local, state, and federal level, and yet, not a single military or law enforcement agency in the United States OR THE REST OF THE WORLD uses smart gun technology to equip their rank and file.
Not any department, agency, or division.
If Mascia was a competent researcher, Nocera was a competent columnist, and the Times capable of hiring competent editors, that refusal by the world’s law enforcement and military agencies would raise a red flag the size of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Professionals who put their lives on the line have examined these technologies, and they have found them unreliable, failure-prone, and more likely to cost law enforcement officers and soldiers their lives than save them.
The NRA isn’t poo-pooing this technology, it’s the NYPD, LAPD, and every other metropolitan police department and military force on the planet. They are concerned—and rightfully so—that the failure-prone technology could end up killing their officers.
Mr. Nocera is clearly more interested in disseminating propaganda that arming his readers with the the facts so they can draw their own conclusions.
The rhetoric is more important than the reality.
It must be a New York Times state of mind.