Following Massachusetts Rep. Robert DeLeo’s report of 44 gun regulations released in January, U.S. Sen. Ed Markey proposed a new piece of legislation that will require all handguns in the United States to be equipped with innovative smart gun technology.
“The Handgun Trigger Safety Act”, introduced Wednesday, works to personalize handgun security by adding fingerprint technology to guns to recognize authorized and unauthorized users. The act also calls for a $10 million allotment of funds for gun violence research and technology development.
“It’s time that we take some preventative actions rather than some post actions,” said David Brade, regional director at Markey’s office. “We want to save as many lives as possible and prevent as many deaths as possible, and we want to curb the number of shootings that happen every year.”
In Boston, there are almost 300 shootings each year, most of which happen with illegally acquired guns. Introducing this technology would bring those numbers down and reduce gun trauma in communities across the state, Brade said.
“It [the act] would ensure that manufacturers, not just in Massachusetts but around the country, equip their products and their weapons with this technology, which will enhance the security of knowing that someone who doesn’t have permission to use your gun won’t be able to use your gun,” he said.
Ladd Everitt, director of communications at the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, said this legislation would force gun manufacturers to use modern technology to make weapons safer.
“This is an ongoing problem with the gun industry,” he said. “The gun industry for decades has been willing to incorporate modern technology into their products to make their products more lethal, but they have never been willing to incorporate modern technology into their products to make them safer.”
Everitt said Markey’s bill is one worth fighting for, but he does not see the controversial topic becoming a priority in today’s Congress when there are other controversial pieces of gun legislation on the table.
“There will come a day in this country where they implement modern technology to make guns safer and to prevent children from shooting other children and themselves,” he said. “The focus right now for our movement is on expanding background checks. That’s where you have to start. It’s hard to limit the damage done by guns when you’re still allowing people to buy guns with no accountability whatsoever.”
Several residents said Markey’s intentions to create a safer community are in the right place, but forcing gun manufacturers to produce security systems may not be the best approach.
Jazmine Santos, 18, of Dorchester, said the fingerprinting system would keep criminals from illegally using guns for dangerous activity.
“It will prevent criminals from getting weapons that don’t belong to them, and it will make it easier for cops to identify who used the gun,” she said.
Ricardo Salazar, 22, of Back Bay, said Markey’s new legislation could cause problems for people who need to use guns as defense weapons.
“It’s useful if you’re a cop or in the military because you are the only one using the gun, but if you’re a homeowner and needed your father’s gun to protect yourself, you wouldn’t be able to,” he said.
John Price, 55, of South Boston, said Markey should be focusing on decreasing the number of guns in the Commonwealth rather than creating security systems for the weapons.
“I don’t think it’s practical,” he said. “Criminals would find a means to disable it, and they would be ineffective. What the senator should focus on is educating the public on why it doesn’t make sense to own a gun in today’s society.”