At least one Senate Democrat is eschewing conventional wisdom about the fate of new gun control legislation and is looking to push a high-tech bill through Congress that aims to curb accidental gun deaths among children. The move could re-ignite the gun rights debate in Congress ahead of the 2014 midterm election, after a series of failed efforts from both the While House and other congressional Democrats.
Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., announced this week he plans to introduce the Handgun Trigger Safety Act when he returns to Capitol Hill next week, a move that could signal Democrats’ willingness to use the issue to get out their Democratic voter base in 2014. A recent poll found that 76 percent of Democrats support stricter gun laws as opposed 28 percent of Republicans.
The stuff of James Bond, the bill would require gun manufacturers to equip their products with personalized recognition technology within two years of passage and require gun sellers to retrofit firearms with the technology within three years. The technology would stop strangers from being able to pull the trigger on guns they did not own and allocate more money to research gun technology.
Markey's gun bill could bring scenes from the big screen to life, possibilities that already sparked the interest of President Barack Obama who instructed the National Institute of Justice last year to draft a report explaining the availability of personal recognition technology. There are three weapons being designed that are capable of identifying the gun owner, according to that study.
Markey argues such legislation would keep criminals from stealing guns and trafficking them to felons and underage buyers. He also makes the case that the technology could significantly reduce the number of children who are killed each year by gun violence. According to an analysis by Mother Jones in 2013, there were 84 children killed in gun accidents last year.
“No one wants children to get access to a handgun and hurt themselves or others,” Markey said in a release. “This is the type of gun safety legislation that everyone – regardless of political party or affiliation – should be able to support.”
Markey’s bill, however, which was introduced in the House last year, isn’t expected to gain much traction. Even in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting when the national media attention on gun reforms was more vibrant, proponents of a background check bill could not amass enough votes in 2013 to overcome a procedural hurdle.
Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has signaled a willingness to consider another round of gun control legislation in the Senate, but only if he has the 60 votes he needs to ensure its passage. In an election year, it looks more likely that Markey’s bill will be a campaign slogan, not a new law.