Police and a local gun shop owner do not want "smart guns"

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COLUMBIA - Local law enforcement, and one gun shop owner, voiced their opinions after the White House released a progress report on its effort to put smart gun technology in the hands of gun owners.

President Obama started working to boost the development of smart gun and gun safety technology in January.

“If we can set it up so you can’t unlock your phone unless you’ve got the right fingerprint, why can’t we do the same thing for our guns?" Obama said. "If a child can’t open a bottle of aspirin, we should make sure that they can’t pull a trigger on a gun.”

Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum requiring the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Justice to prepare a report outlining a strategy to speed up "the real-world deployment of smart gun technology."

Dale Roberts works for the Columbia Police Officers Association said the technology could hold law enforcement back. 

"The theory is there's some kind of key fob, a ring, a bracelet, something of that sort that activates the gun," Roberts said. "If that piece of equipment isn't around or working range of the gun then the gun won't work.

The report listed three potential benefits of the technology including limiting “takeaways” during law enforcement operations, limiting misuse of lost and stolen law enforcement firearms and limit accidental off-duty discharges by officers’ children and other family members. 

Larry Wayland owns Modern Arms and said adding a layer of technology to a gun doesn't seem like the safest thing to do.

"I don't know how many times I've grabbed my smart phone and I've had to wait for the latest update before I was able to use it," Wayland said. "In a life and death situation, waiting on an update for my smart gun to be ready to use doesn't seem like a very reasonable direction to be going in."

The report highlights where the agencies are at in the process.

The "DOJ and DHS have begun a process to define, for the first time, the requirements that manufacturers would need to meet for federal, state, and municipal law enforcement agencies to consider purchasing firearms with enhanced safety technology," the release said. "They’ve committed to completing that process by October, and will also identify agencies interested in taking part in a pilot program to develop the technology."

Roberts said he does not think law enforcement shouldn't be the ones to test the new equipment if it were to be released.

"This is new technology that potentially is extraordinarily dangerous," Roberts said. "So it puts a law enforcement office in a great deal of danger if the firearm doesn't work."

But, the development would not require law enforcement to use the gun.

"This report calls for the development of new technology and not a mandate that any particular individual or law enforcement agency adopt the technology once developed," the report said.

A 2013 National Institute of Justice report noted the Department of Justice issued at least $12.6 million in grants to support the technology over the past two decades.

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