I don't like to stray too far from my econo-lane, but I've long wondered whether a "smart gun" could be developed that could help minimize mass shootings in public places. The idea would be to require chips in weapons that would essentially shut the firearm off in say, schools or movie theaters.
Putting aside the horrific politics for a second, I've been told such technology is many years off. Yet, I read in mymorning paper that (my bold):
A variety of approaches are in development. Armatix, the German company behind the iP1, uses RFID chips, which can be found on anti-theft tags attached to expensive clothing. TriggerSmart, an Irish company, also uses RFID chips, though with a ring instead of a watch. The company also has technology that would render guns inoperable if they approached electronic markers -- for instance, near a school.
Yes, the NRA will oppose anything and everything and post-Sandy Hook, I don't know how to break their stranglehold. But hard to imagine most people, including gun owners, opposing this use of technology.
Since we're talking about guns, I heard this story on NPR last night about what sounded like some careful research on the impact of a 2007 Missouri law that repealed background checks. Post repeal, firearm homicide rates increased by 23 percent over a three year period, an increase of 60 murders per year.
The researchers controlled for a bunch of stuff to try to isolate the impact of the law change, and it's also notable that trends in neighboring states went in the other direction.
Anyway, I can't imagine facts, careful research, or even technology will move this benighted debate. It's not even a debate, really.
OK, back to cheerful econ.
This post originally appeared at Jared Bernstein's On The Economy blog.