Thursday, May 8, 2014

New smart gun can only be fired by its owner, but it's not allowed in America

To begin, I'll turn the mic over to the Economist. We'll put this one in the 'things I don't get about America' file.
This smart, but no smarter please
SINCE January 1st 3,551 people have been killed by gun violence in America, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The victims include Endia Martin, a 14-year-old girl, who was shot in the back in Chicago last week after an argument with a former friend over a boy. The weapon that was used to kill Martin, a .38 special revolver, began as a legal gun, reports the Chicago Tribune, but somehow it made its way to into this adolescent tussle, turning a flare up between young girls into a deadly tragedy.
Wouldn't it be great if there was a way to prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands?
As it happens, guns that work only when they are in the hands of their legal owners do indeed exist. Armatrix, a German company that makes a .22-calibre “smart gun”, had plans recently to begin selling them in America. But then something odd happened: the very people who were trying to bring these guns to market began receiving threats from gun enthusiasts. Belinda Padilla, the head of the American division of Armatix,no longer picks up the phone if she doesn’t recognise the caller, having fielded too many scary calls. Andy Raymond, a gun-dealer in Maryland, decided not to sell the Armatrix guns after receiving death threats. Both Ms Padilla and Mr Raymond are pro-gun; they simply believe there is room in the market for some with safety mechanisms. But aggressive and antagonistic campaigns from gun-lovers have ensured that not a single American gun-dealer will risk selling Armatrix smart guns.
That's... a little troubling. Looking at this awesome Wiki data on gun-related death rates per country (which has a handy sorting feature), we can see how the US stacks up against other developed countries. This is deaths per 100k people per year:

Yup, that's right. Because your forefathers decided to come to the US rather than staying in the UK (for example), you're 41 times as likely to die at the hands of a gun.

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