WASHINGTON -- Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) today urged National Rifle Association (NRA) President James Porter to denounce threats of violence against firearms dealers who have attempted to sell smart gun technology. Activists in California and Maryland have worked to prevent the sale of smart guns like the Armatix iP1 by organizing boycotts, and in some cases threatening physical harm against small business owners. Rep. Maloney and Senator Markey support the adoption of smart gun technology, which has the potential to prevent thousands of accidental gun deaths and gun crimes committed using stolen weapons. Smart gun or personalization technology would allow gun owners to designate authorized users for a handgun and require some form of authentication to enable gun operability.
“These improper efforts to block the release of a product that can save lives and reduce gun violence are appalling, and they should have no place in our society,” write Maloney and Markey in the letter to the NRA. “The NRA is in a unique position to stop the threatening, shameful actions of these activists who stand in the way of real progress that will save lives. It is clear that smart guns are at the heart of common-sense gun safety measures. As a result, we think your organization should denounce those activists who are using threats to prevent this new gun safety technology from being sold on the free market.”
Rep. Maloney and Senator Markey are working to pass legislation (S. 2068, H.R. 2005) that would mandate that all new handguns manufactured in the United States include smart gun technology within two years. Within three years, the legislation would require that existing handguns for sale be retrofitted using funds administered by the Department of Justice. The full text of the letter to NRA President James Porter follows:
June 3, 2014
James W. Porter II
National Rifle Association
11250 Waples Mill Road
Fairfax, VA 22030
Dear Mr. Porter
Like many Americans, we are committed to ending the scourge of accidental gun deaths in the United States. As a country, we have heard too many terrible stories where a child finds and accidentally fires a gun. Too often, these stories have had the most painful ending imaginable: a child either taking her own life or the life of another child.
Accidental gun firings have ended the lives of thousands of innocent children, sometimes even children as young as toddlers. Recent developments in “smart gun” technology represent a breakthrough to prevent these horrific accidents and other incidents where guns fall into the wrong hands. Smart guns can only be fired by the people authorized by the owner.
Beyond helping to limit the number of accidental shootings, smart guns will also help to reduce gun violence by preventing gun thefts. Approximately 10-15% of guns used in crimes were stolen from their rightful owners. If smart gun technology were widely available, criminals would be unable to use many of the guns they steal. Even just the introduction of this technology into the market should help deter criminals from trying to steal guns. As your Institute for Legislative Action itself says, “The NRA shares the goal of keeping firearms out of dangerous hands.” We share this goal, and we believe smart gun technology can help achieve it.
In an effort to curtail these accidents and thefts, several gun store owners in Maryland and California decided to sell this new smart gun technology in their stores. We have supported these efforts, believing that many Americans would choose to purchase smart gun technology if it was available.
However, some “gun rights advocates” have responded to the appearance of smart guns by trying to block the sale of smart guns. According to press reports, some of these so-called activists have taken outrageous steps against these gun dealers. A few activists have even resorted to making death threats against the owners of the businesses seeking to sell smart guns. These efforts forced at least two business owners to reverse their plans to market the Armatix iP1, one of the first smart guns available. These improper efforts to block the release of a product that can save lives and reduce gun violence are appalling, and they should have no place in our society.
After over 140 years as the leading advocate of shooting sports in the United States, your organization is the national leader in firearms education and the promotion of safer gun use. As a result, the NRA is in a unique position to stop the threatening, shameful actions of these activists who stand in the way of real progress that will save lives. It is clear that smart guns are at the heart of common-sense gun safety measures. As a result, we think your organization should denounce those activists who are using threats to prevent this new gun safety technology from being sold on the free market.
As our country continues to look for ways to reduce gun deaths and prevent violence, we look forward to hearing the NRA’s voice in support of innovative solutions to gun violence.
CAROLYN B. MALONEY
Member of Congress
EDWARD J. MARKEY
United States Senator