Smart Guns--So Stupid The Police Don't Want Them

By Mary Caherty
February 25, 2000

Maryland Governor Parris Glendening said of his "Smart Guns" plan, in November of last year, "This legislation will save our families, communities and police officers from more handgun deaths and violence in the future."

When Glendening and Lt. Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend first began hawking the "Star Trek Gun Plan" last year, they were adamant about it being a lifesaver for police officers, because it would prevent a criminal from shooting an officer with his own gun. For months it seemed that's all they could talk about. They wanted to do this for the police officers of Maryland.

But now that the bill is now before the legislature, Glendening and Townsend's tune (and the wording of the bill) have changed dramatically. Now it seems, police officers' lives are not so important to the governor, as he's exempted them from the effects of this "lifesaving technology."

We should all be asking the question, "Why is that? Why does the governor NOT WANT Maryland police officers to have the most technologically advanced, and safest guns available?"

Colonel David B. Mitchell, Superintendent of the Maryland State Police, and apparent spokesman for the governor's legislative nightmare, said on the MPT show "Newsnight Maryland" Wednesday February 23, that the technology was so expensive that there just wasn't enough money to buy the new guns for all of Maryland's 15,000 police officers. It was a budgetary problem, he told us.

The state of Maryland, with a projected budget surplus of $940 million, couldn't come up with the money to give our police officers what the governor has declared to be the very best and safest gun ever dreamed of?

When Col. Mitchell was reminded of the huge budget surplus, he quickly changed his argument against giving police the new "gee whiz" technology. Now he said that the police needed their guns to work in all kinds of situations and weather conditions. Well, what about law abiding gun owners? Don't we deserve to have reliable firearms as well? Does Col. Mitchell have some concern that this non existent technology is not as safe as the governor would like us all to believe? It appears so.

Do the "cops on the street" want so-called smart guns? Would they like to have them as their service weapons? I have asked many police officers this question. Some of them are my personal friends, some are officers I don't know who I have informally polled at public events; and they have all answered my question with a resounding "NO WAY!" And more than a few have said they would retire or just plain quit the police force if they were ever required to use this technology. They don't want their life to depend on a computer chip, or a radio signal, or a battery, to work when they need it most. Neither do I.

It is my belief that this is why the police have been exempted from the proposed law. The rank and file officers have told their supervisors, their chiefs, their union representatives, their legislators, that they think this so-called technology can kill them. I will not fault them for that opinion.

I will fault the governor, the lieutenant governor, Col. Mitchell and their supporters for the potentially deadly technology they are trying to force down the throats of the law abiding residents of Maryland. Through their actions in presenting this bill to the legislature, they are telling Marylanders that we are second class citizens. They are saying that our lives do not matter to them. So what if a few gun owners die because their hi-tech gun fails to fire when an armed assailant breaks into their home? That's one less gun owner they have to deal with. They'd be happy if we'd all end up in a pine box. That's the message implied with "Smart Guns."

The hearings in the Senate on "smart guns" are scheduled for March 15th, and the hearings in the House are on March 16th in Annapolis. Maryland gun owners have to stand up and be heard now. Our safety and the safety of our children depend on reliable firearms for self-defense, and our vocal opposition to these bills.

Mary E. Caherty

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