It stands to reason that you could use technology to more efficiently track criminals through the guns they steal, buy or use, and potentially protect owners from having their own guns used against them. The NRA and the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which represents gun manufacturers, say they oppose any kind of mandates that would require smart gun technology, because of product liaibility concerns for manufacturers and unintended safety consequences. Gun control advocates are worried the guns could be used by criminals who want “Ghost guns” – those that can’t be traced or detected by most security. “We’re not advocating people to print this at home. We’ve never seen a meaningful weapon made this way,” said Larry Keane, senior vice president and general counsel for the NSSF. “This is kind of inconsistent,” I pointed out to him, noting that if an organization is concerned about unsafe guns in the world, they ought to be worried about 3D printed guns. So why the inconsistency? The answer is probably that it was never really about safety when it comes to smart guns: It was their traceability. What I’ve learned on the beat – it’s not a great secret – is that what many gun rights advocates fear second-most of all is a gun registry, because that could lead to what they fear most of all, which is that the government comes for the guns. Viewed from that perspective, opposition to smart guns makes perfect sense, and cautious support – or conspicuous silence – about 3D printed guns does, too.
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