Gun Safes and Politics

The August 2014 issue of Guns and Ammo has an interesting article on a new generation of gun safes. While this probably is not of interest to many of my readers, it tells a bit about politics as well.

To put this into context, gun safes are an important, yet problematic accessory for many Americans. If you keep a handgun for home defense, the demands of storage are contradictory. On the one hand, you want quick access during an emergency; at the same time, however, you want it to be secure from non-authorized personnel like burglers, but even more pressing, your children and their friends. If you have a wall safe, e.g., no one else can get to it, but neither can you when you're in a hurry. Keeping it on the nightstand is handy, but an invitation to disaster as well.

The gun industry has lately come up with ingenious solutions to this dilemma, and the magazine reviews three modern-era versions. Two of these safes open only after matching one's digits with the fingerprints electronically filed within. The other responds to a radio signal from a bracelet the owner wears. All of them open by other means, such as inserting a key or a numerical code on a keypad. But these are only failsafes; they are "certainly not the preferred method of entry," according to the article. The devices in these products are new, exciting, and apparently, sufficiently reliable that one of the best-selling gun magazines can tout them to readers.

So why should this be of interest to anyone else? About a month ago, there was a discussion in the media about smart guns. These would work only when near a radio transmitter or when the proper handprint was applied. Sound familiar? Yet, the NRA came out vehemently against these, and no gun store will sell them. In my piece on this issue ("Smart Guns and the Right"), I cited a couple of quotes, how "the NRA has labeled it as part of the 'anti-gunner's agenda' to ban guns for everybody. On another forum, one person went much further, writing, 'I have no qualms with the idea of personally and professionally leveling the life of someone who has attempted to profit from disarming me and my fellow Americans.'"

Yet, the new article dismisses these arguments. It cites these kinds of objections (the safe could "fail to open... if the... batteries are dead"), but then defiantly states, "access problems aren't exclusive to technologically advanced safes." After all, "wouldn't you be in the same boat if you hurriedly entered an incorrect combination or dropped the key to your traditional safe..." It was clear to the magazine that, "With rare exception, a modern, quick-access handgun safe" was a good idea. It referred to one of the models as "a highly advanced and extremely versatile product."

Think they would use this same logic to give a fair review of the smart gun? Not on your life. When the NRA gets on the warpath, things like logic and evidence are frequently in short supply. Don't expect a magazine dependent on Association members to make such a leap.