By Ananda Shorey
WASHINGTON – Glendening administration officials hailed President Clinton’s interest in “smart-gun” technology, saying federal involvement will give companies the money and the incentive to see that it becomes a reality.
Clinton included smart-gun funding in a broader gun-control plan he unveiled this week, which included hiring more gun investigators and prosecutors, improving ballistics testing programs and launching an anti-gun media campaign.
It was welcomed by aides to Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening, who has been a supporter for some time of smart guns, which incorporate still-developing technology that prevent them from being fired by anyone but an authorized user.
Deputy Press Secretary Raquel Guillory said the governor is delighted to see the federal interest in the research and development of smart guns.
“We’re not saying it will happen overnight,” Guillory said. “If you give companies the means, then that is just another step in the right direction.”
But gun-rights advocates say smart guns are not the answer.
“You need to punish the criminals and not us,” said Glenn Given, chairman of the Maryland State Rifle and Pistol Association.
He said there are too many gun-control laws on the books already and that passing more laws will not stop criminals. If nothing has stopped the criminals up to this point, he said, smart-gun technology is not going to either.
“The smart gun is not going to do anything about crime,” Given said. “The criminals are still going to do what they want.”
Among the possible smart-gun technologies under research by gun makers are fingerprint readers and short-range transmitters worn in a bracelet, which would be used to assure that only the owner could use the firearm.
Given said that if smart-gun technology is inevitable, more research and work has to be put into it before the guns should be put on the market.
“Smart-gun technology will be fine if they can make it exist in a safe form,” Given said. “I don’t want to bet my life on a gun that you can’t trust.”
Given said the governor has very little support for his smart-gun technology proposal and he said he does not think Congress will approve Clinton’s proposal, either.
But Guillory noted that smart-gun technology has the support of many, not the least of which is the president. Clinton’s proposal to invest in the research and development of smart-gun technology is evidence of that interest, she said.
Although some people say that smart-gun technology will not exist for some time, Guillory said, “It can be done if you want it to be done.” She said the interest is there now the money and the support will follow.