Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Farhad Manjoo writes that there are a number of technologies that gunmakers could add to their products that might prevent hundreds or thousands of deaths per year. One area of active research is known as the “smart gun”—a trigger-identification system that prevents a gun from being fired by anyone other than its authorized user with researchers at New Jersey Institute of Technology creating a working prototype of a gun that determines whether or not to fire based on a user’s “grip pattern." Gunmakers been slow to add other safety technologies as well, including indicators that show whether a gun is loaded and “magazine safeties” that prevent weapons from being fired when their ammunition magazine is removed (PDF) that could save 400 lives a year. So why aren’t gunmakers making safer guns? Because guns are exempt from most of the consumer safety laws that have improved the rest of American life because the Consumer Product Safety Commission, charged with looking over thousands of different kinds of products, is explicitly prohibited from regulating firearms. In 2005, Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which immunizes gun makers against lawsuits resulting from “misuse” of the products. If they can’t be sued and can’t be regulated, gunmakers have no incentive to make smarter guns. A week before the Newtown massacre, Joseph Loughrey went to a gun store to sell some of his weapons. Loughrey had unloaded the magazine on his handgun, but he didn’t know there was a still a round in the chamber. When he set the gun down on the center console of his truck, it went off, killing his 7-year-old son. " A magazine safety would have prevented Loughrey’s gun from going off after he’d removed the magazine. A smart trigger would have prevented the gun from firing without Loughrey’s hand being on the grip," writes Manjoo. "But Loughrey’s gun lacked both those safety devices, because nobody has ever forced gun makers to live up to the same basic safety requirements as other American companies.""
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