New Jersey Passes Bill Requiring Nonexistent 'Smart Guns'

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:04 PM EDT

( - The New Jersey Assembly Monday passed a "Childproof Handgun Bill" requiring all pistols sold in the state to eventually include safety features intended to prevent children and other unauthorized people from firing a weapon.

The bill now returns to the New Jersey Senate, which passed a similar measure in October. The bill, once reconciled, will go to Gov. Jim McGreevey, who says he will sign it.

A spokesman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said the bill requiring "smart gun" technology will have "a profound impact on the safety of our children for generations to come."

The Brady Campaign is demanding that other states follow New Jersey's lead in mandating smart-gun technology, which (theoretically) would allow only the owner of a gun to fire it.

But Second Amendment supporters see such laws as just another effort to regulate gun sales. They note that smart-gun technology doesn't even exist yet. When and if it does exist, it would significantly drive up the price of pistols.

The bill passed Monday requires "smart gun" technology on all guns sold in New Jersey three years after the technology is developed and approved by the state attorney general.

Press reports say Gov. McGreevey flip-flopped on the bill - at first opposing it and even working secretly with the National Rifle Association to bottle it up in committee. But when gun-control groups found out, he had a change of heart, those reports said.

In a statement released Monday, McGreevey said, "This administration remains committed to keeping dangerous weapons off of our streets and keeping our communities safe for our children. To that end, we will continue to support strong, sensible gun laws. I look forward to signing the smart gun legislation into law."

Even some Democrats who voted for the Childproof Handgun Bill admitted it's hard to approve something that doesn't exist yet.

But other liberals praised New Jersey lawmakers. Carole Stiller, president of the Million Mom March of New Jersey, said, "It's time for gun manufacturers to change their ways." According to Stiller, the bill passed Monday is just the kind of "commonsense" legislation that will save lives.

But Second Amendment supporters say there's no way to make any gun completely "safe." In fact, some wonder if smart-gun technology will backfire, making a gun inoperable in cases where self-defense could mean the difference between life and death.