"Do Safe Guns Always Use a Rubber Bullet?"
By John Taylor
Special to The Libertarian Enterprise
Stephen Teret is the Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun
Policy and Research, an arm of the Johns Hopkins University's School
of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland.
Dr. Teret is the university's expert on guns and crime. He is
spearheading a crusade to "regulate the safety" of guns by
personalizing them so that they would be inoperable except by their
Teret cites popular support for such a system. "In the survey we
did of 1,200 people, 86% said they were in favor of a law that
required guns to be child-proof, and 68% favored a law requiring guns
to be personalized."
Teret did not comment on a 1986 Harvard study that showed that
76% of people said that, if ordered to do so by a commanding officer,
they would personally kill every man, woman, and child in a typical
Dr. Teret has headed the development of a "Model Handgun Safety
Standard Act" -- a guideline for legislators who might wish to
develop statutes mandating the personalizing of guns. Personal
experience underlies his desire to implement such a system.
Close friends of Teret's placed their 2-year-old boy in day care
in the private home of a woman married to a policeman. Said Teret,
" ... while the child was napping, the woman's 4-year-old son ...
took out a loaded gun his parents kept ... and shot the 2-year-old
through the head."
[NOTE: The legislative model developed by Teret would not affect guns
used by law enforcement officials.]
Teret cites work being done by a major gun manufacturer that
would "have a tiny radio transponder chip, perhaps embedded in a ring
or a bracelet.
If that chip is within a specified distance of the gun, then the gun
will work. If the chip is out of range, then the gun is inoperative."
Teret did not address reports that the system itself proved
inoperative in testing, nor did he explain how such a system could be
designed so as not to be defeated by owner negligence or by persons
with criminal intent.
Insiders report that one possible spin-off to the chip system
that would add a measure of safety might be the use of a 'mood ring'
to encase a chip programmed such that use of the gun could be blocked
if the owner was angry or depressed.
Rumors also are circulating that other Johns Hopkins School of
Public Health concepts for safe guns include:
** the "Hook System": surgical detachment of the owner's hand, a
graft to implant the gun into the newly detached member, and a bionic
link that will allow the user to "screw on" the proper tool for the
task 'at hand'
** the "McVeigh System": surgical implantation of the controlling chip
into the buttocks of the owner, or 'end user'
** the "Clinton System": involves multiple 'graft' procedures, but
provides the owner with several layers of protection from liability
Any such system would, of course, add to the gun's expense.
Persons who could no longer afford to purchase a handgun with the new
expensive system would presumably have to resort to sawed-off
shotguns and rifles, or perhaps bombs and Molotov cocktails -- though
there are reports of development of a time-shared personalized gun
that could be assigned to as many as ten users using a 'sight
Elements of the omnipotent gun lobby which has been rendered
largely ineffective by such new strategies, are, of course, opposed
to this and all reasonable measures of gun control. The NRA, in a
monolithically extremist statement typical of that organization in
turmoil, says that it is not opposed to the sale of so-called "smart
guns", but that it is opposed to mandatory smart gun ownership.
Teret retorts that public opinion supports the idea. "We asked
survey questions of the public such as, 'Would you be willing to buy a
personalized gun, even if it cost considerably more?' The majority of
people said, 'Yes.'"
Advocates for greater control over guns point to the same survey
as evidence that "the American people are addicted to guns no matter
what the price -- clear proof that the whole of the American people
should be institutionalized for their own good."
Teret believes that he has the public on his side. Stating
"... the public is now saying, 'We want guns to be treated as consumer
products'", Teret had no comment on the opinion offered that, for
guns to be treated as consumer items, they would have to be sold at
all groceries, drugstores, convenience stores, banks, restaurants --
in short, anywhere and everywhere they're needed most.
# # #
Reproduction, retransmission, bending, folding, spindling, stapling, and
mutilating of this article are not only permitted, but encouraged --
provided the article is reproduced in its entirety and attribution is
given. The truth is indeed out there, is often stranger than fiction,
and is every bit as easy to manipulate. Quotations attributed to Dr.
Stephen Teret - and other information in this essay - were taken from a
March 19, 1997 Reuters article.
John Taylor is the Maryland Coordinator of the Libertarian Second