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Editorial Put technology to use for public safety

November 18, 2018

If there were a safety device that would protect your most precious belonging from loss, wouldn’t you want it? Maybe even demand it?

For several years fingerprint recognition technology has protected our cell phones from use by anyone other than the owner, including children who could inadvertently run up the monthly bill.

It makes sense then, doesn’t it, that a recognition technology could be employed for guns so that only the lawful owner could fire them. A child wouldn’t be able to pick up a gun and accidentally shoot it.

But there has been little incentive for the gun industry, buoyed by robust sales, to pursue this technology.

This situation can — and must — change.

Connecticut has joined a coalition of investors who intend to compel gun manufacturers to make their products safer. The state, with its $35 billion Retirement Plans and Trust Funds, last week aligned with similar plans in California, Florida, Maine, Maryland and Oregon, as well as retirement systems for the Roman Catholic and Methodist churches. Together, they wield more than $4.83 trillion in assets.

The coalition, which includes other major investors, wants the firearms industry to comply with five basic principles. These should be indisputable: develop technology to make firearms safer and easier to trace; adopt responsible dealer standards; establish complete background checks; better train employees of distributors, dealers and retailers; and work collaboratively with investors.

Notice none of these five principles comes anywhere near threatening Second Amendment rights. Their purpose is public safety.

Mass shooting after mass shooting — in churches, clubs, a movie theater, shopping center, a concert and many schools — leave no doubt that America is awash in gun violence.

On Nov. 7, 13 people were shot to death in the Borderline Bar & Grill in California. It marked the 307th mass shooting in this country in 2018; it was the 311th day of the year. Since then, five more mass shootings have erupted — in Arizona, North Carolina, Indiana, New Mexico and Louisiana — but drew less attention probably because “only” three or four people were killed and a few others injured. Numbers and details can be found at gunviolencearchive.org/reports/mass-shootings.

Congress has fallen short on protecting the public.

Even after the unfathomable Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, in which 20 first graders and six educators were shot to death nearly six years ago, a majority of legislators refused to act on the most basic of measures, such as universal background checks.

When the 2018 election winners are sworn into office in January, it will be more promising for legislation to pass the House. But the Senate under Republican control will remain an obstacle.

Action on another front is essential. If the coalition does not get satisfactory responses from the gun industry, then they should pull their investments and go elsewhere. Money speaks.

The public ought to speak, too, and demand action to stem the pervasive gun violence. We want our most precious belongings protected.

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