- The Washington Times - Friday, April 29, 2016

The Justice Department put out a call Friday for demonstrations of “smart-gun” technology, part of President Obama’s executive actions pushing for more gun regulation.

In a notice published in the Federal Register, the National Institute of Justice announced it is seeking “an objective demonstration of the reliability of firearms available today with advanced gun safety technology integrated into the firearm.” Prize money of up to $150,000 will be awarded to the most promising entries, with testing planned later with live ammunition.

“Smart-gun” technology remodels firearms so they can only be fired by authorized users. Mr. Obama ordered a multi-agency review of the technology on Jan. 4 as part of his executive action on guns.

Law enforcement officials are wary of the administration’s plans, fearing that police on the front lines will become part of a grand experiment on whether the technology is reliable.

The National Rifle Association criticized the effort.

“President Obama’s obsession with gun control knows no boundaries,” said Jennifer Baker, director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action public affairs. “At a time when we are actively fighting terrorists at home and abroad, this administration would rather focus the military’s efforts on the president’s gun control agenda.”

Senior presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett said the technology eventually will help prevent tragedies.

“A significant number of gun deaths occur every year because someone other than the gun’s owner was handling it — whether it’s a child who finds a gun at home and shoots it accidentally, or the criminals who obtain stolen or trafficked firearms,” she said in a blog post. “The president took action to boost the development of smart gun and gun safety technology that can prevent these deaths from happening.”

As part of the administration’s strategy, the departments of Justice and Homeland Security have started a process to define, for the first time, the requirements that manufacturers would need “to meet for federal, state, and municipal law enforcement agencies to consider purchasing firearms with enhanced safety technology.” That process is to be completed by October.

The Pentagon will help manufacturers test “smart” firearms at the U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center in Maryland.

The Justice Department said state and local governments could apply for federal grants to the purchase of new firearms, including those equipped with “smart” technology.

“Together, these actions have the potential to jump-start the development of proven gun safety technologies that can save lives and preserve the effectiveness of our firearms,” Ms. Jarrett said. “There is no problem that America’s innovators cannot solve, and we are confident that by focusing the private sector’s attention on smart gun technology, we will unlock life-saving innovations.”

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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