Citizens bringing smart-gun message to gun company shareholders

Clergy and citizens will attend gun company annual shareholders' meeting on Tuesday, May 3, 2016 to ask the company to respond to the emerging demand for smarter, safer firearms.

Metro IAF Responds to Fraternal Order of Police Attack on Smart Guns

Leaders of a nationwide campaign to encourage life-saving innovation in the gun industry today applauded President Obama’s actions to help make “smart guns” available for law enforcement officers as well as individual gun purchasers. The White House announced specific actions today, based on a report from the Departments of Justice, Defense and Homeland Security that the President ordered in January. Rabbi Joel Mosbacher, co-chairperson of the Do Not Stand Idly By campaign, said that a preview of the plan presented on Thursday by presidential advisor Valerie Jarrett was “substantive” and includes key recommendations made by DNSIB.

DNSIB leaders identified three steps described in Thursday's briefing as particularly significant:

The federal government will develop specifications for smart guns. These specs can be used by federal agencies as well as state and local law enforcement agencies to guide future procurement decisions. They will also guide manufacturers in their efforts to meet the growing demand for smart guns.

The DOJ will provide resources for law enforcement agencies interested in purchasing smart guns. (DNSIB has called for federal subsidies to offset the increased costs of smart guns versus "regular" guns, at least until the technology matures and costs come down.)

The White House will convene public officials from across the U.S. to share strategies for reducing gun violence. DNSIB has repeatedly recommended that the White House convene state and local officials who are leading the effort to use their purchasing power to effect change in the gun industry. DNSIB told the White House today: "We have a two-year head start on this. As you know, officials from 85 cities, counties and states have taken initial steps to ask manufacturers to bring smart guns to market. Every one of these mayors, police chiefs, sheriffs, county executives, governors, etc. would be eager to collaborate with the White House on this."

A number of key DNSIB recommendations were not included in the President's plan, including DNSIB's proposal -- endorsed by Sen. Charles Schumer (NY) -- to use the leverage of the Army's $580 million handgun contract currently being negotiated, as well as other federal contracts.

“There is much more that President Obama should be doing," Rabbi Mosbacher said. "But for anyone who worried that the President’s ‘smart gun’ announcement in January was just talk, today’s report will come as welcome news. These actions are real. They’re well thought-through. And we think they will send a clear signal to gun manufacturers that the largest gun purchaser in the nation – the federal government – is in the market for smarter, safer guns.”

On Tuesday, Do Not Stand Idly By will bring this message to Sturm, Ruger and Co. Clergy and citizen representatives from the group’s affiliates in North Carolina, New Jersey and Ohio will attend the company’s annual shareholder meeting to ask company executives to respond to growing interest in smart-gun technology among local, state and federal governments – which collectively represent 40 percent of America’s gun market. DNSIB leaders have obtained proxies from company shareholders to attend the meeting on Tuesday morning in Greensboro, NC.

“Leaders from 85 cities, counties and states – all of whom purchase guns for their law enforcement officers – have asked Sturm Ruger for information on its plans and capabilities in the area of gun safety technologies,” Mosbacher said. “And now the President has brought the purchasing power of the federal government to the table. Our sense is that it would be smart for Sturm Ruger management – and other gun CEOs – to objectively assess and respond to this emerging market, and not just bury their heads in the sand.”

Sturm, Ruger & Co., based in Southport, Connecticut, is one of the largest gun manufacturers in the world. The company is publicly traded, and is a major U.S. government contractor.

“Earlier this week, a three-year-old boy in Georgia shot and killed himself accidentally with his father’s gun,” said DNSIB leader Donna Weinberger of Cleveland. “News reports say the gun was made by Sturm Ruger.”

“Incidents like this would be prevented by smart-gun technology,” Weinberger said. A smart gun uses user-recognition technology to prevent firing by unauthorized users. Studies project that smart-gun technology, if widely available, would significantly reduce gun-related deaths in every major category: suicides, homicides and accidental shootings.

DNSIB has been building support among law enforcement leaders across the country for this technology. In 2014, the group held the nation’s first-ever Smart Gun Show, where chiefs, armorers, and officers from nine police departments in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey were able to see and shoot smart-gun models.

This week, in advance of the release of the President’s report, a leader of the Fraternal Order of Police falsely characterized the President’s plan as using police as “guinea pigs” for smart guns. In fact, the President’s plan – like those proposed by DNSIB and police chiefs across the U.S. – calls for rigorous evaluation of smart-gun technology by law enforcement and the military before such products are approved for use in the field.

“The FOP purports to represent the interests of rank-and-file police officers on this,” Mosbacher said. “In fact, the FOP has a long history of representing gun manufacturers.”

“Remember, this is the same group that asked the National Football League to allow guns inside football stadiums,” Mosbacher said. “We doubt that this represents the views of police officers nationwide.”

Do Not Stand Idly By was launched in 2013 by the Metro Industrial Areas Foundation (Metro IAF) – a network of citizens’ organizations made up of religious congregations, unions, schools and civic groups – to encourage public-sector leaders to use their firearms purchasing power to create change in the gun industry. To learn more, contact person and info below.

Joe Morris
Metro Industrial Areas Foundation

Metro IAF's campaign for gun safety