Monday, November 2, 2015

The Question Not Asked On 60 Minutes

Lesley Stahl had a long piece on so-called smart guns last night on CBS' 60 Minutes. She talked to a lot of people including New Jersey State Senator Loretta Weinberg. Here is the part of the transcript where Stahl speaks with Weinberg and intersperses it with comments from a Maryland FFL.
Loretta Weinberg, the New Jersey state senator who authored the law, didn't foresee its consequences.
Loretta Weinberg: We passed that bill to help spur this technology.

Lesley Stahl: It appears it totally backfired because it spurred this passionate objection to the gun.

Loretta Weinberg: Because of the intervention of the NRA and the Second Amendment folks.

Lesley Stahl: That, they say, the reason they intervened is because of the mandate.

Loretta Weinberg: Right. It isn't the law that's stopped the development. It is the people who threatened folks who actually wanted to sell such a gun.

Andy Raymond came to realize that even if he had sold the Armatix gun in Maryland, it might've triggered the mandate, banning the sale of regular handguns in New Jersey.

[Andy Raymond: The people of New Jersey: my apologies. You got nothing to worry about from me.]

Andy Raymond: I did apologize. I'm... I'm sorry. Sorry to this day.

Lesley Stahl: Did you actually sell any of the Armatix guns?

Andy Raymond: No.

After his case came to her attention, the New Jersey senator offered to rescind the mandate if the gun lobby publicly removed its opposition to smart guns. She's yet to hear back.

Loretta Weinberg: They seem to oppose almost everything. Anytime we suggest anything we've gotten very little cooperation back.

Lesley Stahl: If the law were completely repealed, do you think that the gun lobby would then let this go forward?

Loretta Weinberg: No.
Earlier in the story, Stahl said that the so-called smart guns could help on-duty cops because it would prevent criminals from using the cop's gun on the cop as has been the case so often. As the story shows, it worked for James Bond in the movie Skyfall when a bad guy tried to shoot 007 with his own gun.

The New Jersey Childproof Handgun Law mandates that once the Attorney General of that state certifies that so-called smart or personalized handguns are available for retail sale anywhere in the United States that only these sort of guns can be sold to consumers in New Jersey. However, there are exceptions and the biggest one is this:
b. The provisions of this section shall not apply to handguns to be sold, transferred, assigned and delivered for official use to: (1) State and local law enforcement officers of this State; (2) federal law enforcement officers and any other federal officers and employees required to carry firearms in the performance of their official duties and (3) members of the Armed Forces of the United States or of the National Guard.
 Given this large and glaring exception to the personalized handgun mandate in New Jersey, why didn't Ms. Stahl ask Sen. Weinberg something along these lines:
Stahl: Sen. Weinberg, given that police officers guns are often turned on them by criminals, why did you specifically exempt law enforcement officers from your bill?

Weinberg: Ummm. Because cops need a reliable gun and this technology is not reliable? Can we get back to talking about how it is the NRA's fault that none of these guns are available for sale!
I would posit that Stahl did not ask the question because she already knew the answer or, at least, the producers of the segment knew it. To ask the question would have muddied the narrative and that just wouldn't do.

You can see the whole episode here.


  1. The "smart gun" worked in Judge Dredd (the Stallone version) when the criminal tried to shoot Dredd's gun, too; it gave him a nasty electrical shock.

    The trouble is, movies are fiction. Otherwise I'd be demanding to know where my lightsaber and Delorean-turned-time-machine are.

    1. I'm waiting for a speeder like the storm troopers had on Endor. Those things were cool.