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Washington Post editorial board advocates risking NJ gun dealers' lives

In reaction to the news that a second gun dealer who had announced his intention to sell the Armatix iP1 "smart gun" had changed his mind due to angry backlash, the Washington Post editorial board argued Friday that the state of New Jersey should now mandate that the only handgun to be sold in New Jersey be equipped with "smart gun" technology. Since the only one in production at the moment is the Armatix, that would be the only handgun they could offer for sale to private citizens. Never mind that it is chambered for the .22 rimfire, universally considered a very poor choice for self-defense. Never mind, even, that statistically, it should be expected to fail to fire once over the course of every 10-round magazine--Wa Po's editorial board wants it to be the only handgun on the market in New Jersey:

The more smart guns that take the place of old, unsafe and outdated firearms the better. Because there is no technological reason that smart guns aren’t already available for sale, New Jersey lawmakers should try to deem the mandate already enforceable. Doing so would take the pressure off individual stores interested in carrying the smart-gun products, and it would promote the rapid introduction of the technology into a big state.

Now keep in mind that New Jersey's "smart gun" law, as written, does not allow lawmakers "to deem the mandate already enforceable," because the law states that it cannot go into effect until three years after the first "smart gun" hits the market, and that three-year countdown still hasn't started, because although the Armatix almost became available first in California, and then in Maryland, law is neither horseshoes nor hand grenades, so "close" doesn't cut it.

The editors' petulant refusal to acknowledge reality is presumably based on the fact that the angry backlash is already yielding potential policy rewards, in that even very pro-"smart gun" New Jersey legislators (including, indeed, the one who first introduced NJ's law) are considering trying to repeal the law (although that offer needs to be examined with an extremely critical eye), because that law, and proposed laws like it, is itself the biggest obstacle to the technology getting a foot in the door.

But the other factor to consider here is that although the Washington Post reports that the owner of the Maryland gun shop that had planned to sell the Armatix supposedly received death threats (from "gun nuts," as the editors call them), they want to force New Jersey gun dealers to do the same thing that provoked those supposed threats. Actually, they want to force those gun dealers to go much further, by offering only the low-powered, unreliable, grotesquely expensive Armatix for sale.

Granted, those notional "death threats" could use rather a lot more examination, as well. In fact, the only "death threat" described in any detail would seem to fall somewhat short of any legal definition of "death threat." From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Mr. Raymond [the Maryland gun dealer] answered one phone call: "Hi, this is Andy. How can I help you?" The caller said, "You're the guys selling the smart gun?" Mr. Raymond tried to reason with him, but the caller said, "You're gonna get what's coming to you, [expletive]."

Mr. Raymond took that as a death threat.

Perhaps he did, but he seems unable to offer much reason for anyone else to take it as such. Come to think of it, if one argues that stating that "what's coming to [him]" is death, that almost sounds like an endorsement of killing him, and presumably, other gun dealers who offer "smart guns."

But the Washington Post clearly is taking the "threat" seriously, or has at least chosen to appear to do so. That would seem to be rather cold-blooded and callous of them--to advocate forcing every New Jersey handgun dealer to choose between going out of business, and engaging in the same behavior that supposedly provokes homicidal rage among people who are presumably armed. Then again, if one believes that the fewer guns in society, the better, as would appear to be the editors' position, perhaps a few dead gun dealers seems an acceptable price.

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