By Josh Richman
Thursday, January 23rd, 2014 at 1:25 pm in gun control.
As the California Legislature prepares to revisit a host of gun-control bills that didn’t make it into law last year, technology – new, or perhaps not-yet-viable – keeps shaping the debate.
SB 293 by state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, which would’ve required the adoption of smart-gun user identification technology in all new guns sold in the state, stalled out in committee. One of the chief criticisms is that the technology remains nowhere near reliable enough to be made mandatory.
But 10 months after Silicon Valley leaders joined with parents of children who’d been slain at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., to call for high-tech solutions to gun violence, a new tech initiative is about to take off.
The Smart Tech Foundation is seeking proposals for technology that blocks unauthorized use of handguns and ammunition; teams interested in competing for grants and prize money totaling at least $1 million can apply starting Tuesday.
“A panel of expert and industry-leading judges will review the proposals and allocate funds directly to innovators to help build an ecosystem of innovation and address gun violence through free market forces,” the foundation said in a news release.
The competition kicks of with a news conference Tuesday in San Francisco at which companies from around the world will share their stories and demonstrate technology they’re already developing, including:
Among those scheduled to be at Tuesday’s event are SV Angel founder Ron Conway; San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr; Smart Tech Foundation Director Jim Pitkow; and Smart Tech Foundation President Margot Hirsch.
Meanwhile, an existing state law has pushed a major gun manufacturer to pull most of its semi-automatic handguns from California’s market.
Lots more on this, after the jump…
AB 1471, authored by Assemblyman Mike Feuer, D-West Hollywood, and signed into law in 2007 by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, requires that new semi-automatic handguns sold in California use “microstamping” – having hammers that stamp a tiny, unique code onto each casing when firing. The law took effect last year.
Sturm, Ruger & Co. announced earlier this month that it would stop new sales in California; on Thursday, Smith & Wesson said it’ll stop selling new or updated semi-automatic handguns here. Some existing S&W models that already are on the state’s approved handgun list will still be available, so long as the company doesn’t redesign them in a way that requires new testing and triggers the microstamping requirement. Revolvers and bolt-action rifles won’t be affected.
“Smith & Wesson does not and will not include microstamping in its firearms,” the Massachusetts-based company said in a news release. “A number of studies have indicated that microstamping is unreliable, serves no safety purpose, is cost-prohibitive and, most importantly, is not proven to aid in preventing or solving crimes.”
“As our products fall off the roster due to California’s interpretation of the Unsafe Handgun Act, we will continue to work with the National Rifle Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation to oppose this poorly conceived law which mandates the unproven and unreliable concept of microstamping and makes it impossible for Californians to have access to the best products with the latest innovations,” President and CEO James Debney said in the release.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the gun industry’s trade association, and the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute filed a lawsuit last week challenging the law.
“The eyes of the nation are now turning to California,” foundation senior vice president and general counsel Larry Keane wrote in a statement posted online Thursday. “The national media has begun to take notice. This situation is not only about a consumer’s right to select the handguns with the latest features, or the aforementioned inability of manufacturers to comply with an unworkable law – the constitutional, Second Amendment stakes are very high.”