What Obama Means When He Says the NRA has Blocked “Smart Gun” Technology

Written by Josh Horwitz

January 8, 2016

At last night’s (Jan. 7) town hall meeting broadcast on CNN, Obama elaborated on one part of his planned gun control executive order—encouraging “smart gun” technology that would make guns safer to use.

Gun manufacturers have been trying to introduce it for years, he said.

“I don’t exactly understand this, and maybe there will be somebody in the audience who explains it to me,” Obama told CNN. “Back in 1997, the CEO of Colt said, you know, we can design or are starting to develop guns where you can only use it if you’ve got a chip. You know, you wear a band or a bracelet, and that then protects your 2-year-old or 3-year-old from picking up the gun and using it. And a boycott was called against them, and—and they had to back off of developing that technology.”

Obama is referring to an initiative promoted by Ronald L. Stewart, who served as the CEO of Colt’s Manufacturing from 1996 to 1998. During his tenure as head of the gun maker, Stewart wrote an editorial in American Firearms Industry magazine advocating national registration(paywall) for all gun owners, something the National Rifle Association continues to oppose to this day. He also advocated creating a chip-embedded gun, which only fires when it’s within very close range of a bracelet worn by the intended shooter.