Producing smart guns will not replace smart people
In order to help mitigate the never-ending debate of gun control, manufactures have created the seemingly efficient way to keep firearms in the hands of their rightful owners. By installing a specialized chip inside of the gun that will only activate the weapon when the owner is close by in proximity, it figures to reduce the number of violent altercations that occur, including suicides and accidental shootings. The chip communicates with a certain type of watch that the user must have on to give the signal that it is okay to fire the gun. In essence, all this new technology really does is put an Elmo Band-Aid on an already-leaky faucet.
Let’s start with the facts. The second amendment of the United States gives the citizens the right to bear arms. There is no question of the semantics or intentions of founders decreeing the amendment to be only used during a wartime scenario. Even if this case was legitimate, the traditional American beliefs about firearms have been re-enforced through decades of ideological resilience to change their paternal practices. Want to remove all guns from existence? You must first undergo a constitutional amendment that revokes this sacrilegious right. In this day and age, such a change would be unheard of, and it would be an unrealistic measure to pursue.
The main issues with this new technology that leave a myriad of doubts in my mind are how this manages to reduce the accessibility of weapons to those who intend to use it for wrongful purposes. I may be wrong, but criminals generally do not tend to use the most legal means when obtaining their firearm of choice. Those who would be willing enough to circumvent the law would find practically no change in their methods of acquiring such weapons. Pro-gun advocates would argue that by having this watch-activated mechanism, it would put individuals in harms way if an emergency situation presented itself and the watch was not present on the owner — which in all seriousness is a very realistic and legitimate concern to have. Nonetheless, I would strongly advocate that for those who feel in their particular family situation, a smart gun would be necessary to reduce accidental/suicide-related violence, it would be a decent piece of technology to have.
Having said this, I would be in favor of reforms on gun control to prevent further mass shootings that could occur that would be akin to Newton and other horrific events. Measures such as re-instating the Federal Assault Weapons Ban could be part of the solution to this complex dilemma. But it may prove to be more efficient to resort to a system where specific requirements of gun control are decided at a state level — most of which would include more comprehensive background checks to prevent those with unstable medical health concerns or other concerning backgrounds from accessing dangerous firearms. Keeping a well-documented registration informational center of those with firearms and instituting gun-free zones across certain areas may be part of the solution, but again, this should be decided at a state level.
I believe it is harder for citizens of New Jersey to see the necessity of having guns because of the culture that we have grown to become accustomed to, where generally the use of firearms is not as glorified or felt to be as necessary. This is not the case is several states through out America however, and to neglect the weight that it carries within those states would be selfish and not open-minded. Common statistics that are always thrown in my direction are about how the United States gun violence rates are considerably higher than that of Europe, specifically that of England. But delving deeper into those statistics, you can see instead that while England does not have a gun violence problem because of its gun control laws, it does indeed have a knife violence problem. While I’m sure that a gun violence epidemic is considered much worse because of the ability of guns to cause mass casualties, it once again strengths the fact that the crime will always be apparent. That does not mean that we simply let crime run rampant without trying our best to regulate it for the safety of our society.
It is true that if there were no guns in existence, there would be no such thing as gun violence. The same can be said about water and drowning, however. Of course we will need water, and again, until a constitutional amendment is made, looks like we will be living with guns too. We must simply acknowledge that guns have and will continue to be apart of our current American tradition, and there must a pragmatic balance that exists between the use of firearms and our safety. We should not hesitate to impede on that right, however, if it proposes a safety to the general wellbeing of society, just as we would for any other right in the Constitution.
Sabri Rafi is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore.