The gun control proposal offered in the U.S. Senate by Massachusetts Democrat Edward Markey will serve a purpose even it is squashed by the congressmen of the National Rifle Association. It keeps the cause of gun reform alive, and in doing so, gives opponents another opportunity to remind Americans that they oppose any attempt at reform, no matter how benign.

Senator Markey puts into legislative form an idea that has gained momentum as the technology develops to make guns inoperable for unauthorized users. By personalizing guns in this fashion, the senator argues, stolen guns could not be used in crimes or against police officers and children would be unable to fire a gun they found in the house. Gun deaths and injuries would be reduced as a result.

The senator said everyone "should be able to support" this legislation, but surely he knew better. In its predictable opposition, the Gun Owners Action League of Massachusetts (GOAL) claimed that so-called smart guns "only work correctly in the movies," without buttressing this assertion. GOAL declared that gun owners did not request this action, which is certainly true, but the bill is directed at gun victims, not owners.

Victims of gun crimes will certainly welcome it, as will police officers, who unlike GOAL members, actually confront armed criminals. Statistics from the National Center for Health and other groups have consistently shown that guns in the home are far more likely to kill a resident, too often a child, than an intruder, so personalized guns would lower the tragic incidents of children killing themselves with their parents’ weapons.


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The majority of Americans want tougher gun control laws, and the will of the majority cannot be thwarted indefinitely by a special interest group and the pols it buys with campaign donations. The pressure must be unrelenting, and the Markey bill does so by showing both the logic behind the effort to curb violence and the illogic of opponents.