Smart Guns Aren’t for Sale in America Because of a New Jersey Law

Split photo: Chris Christie, New Jersey governor, and a smart gun developed by NJIT

Christie photo by Bob Jagendorf (license); smart gun prototype photo via of New Jersey Institute of Technology

Chris Christie yesterday vetoed a bill that would have required New Jersey gun dealers to carry at least one “smart gun” for sale. Christie used a pocket veto, which means the Democratic legislature cannot override it.

Smart guns have been developed by several different sources, but are not yet for sale in the U.S. A smart gun can only be fired by an authorized user (though some smart gun tech has a way for authorized users to override that and allow anyone to fire it). The New Jersey Institute of Technology’s smart gun prototype uses “dynamic grip” technology to prevent anyone else from firing it. NJIT’s smart-gun project was begun at the behest of the state, but was eventually killed.

The gun-lobby says it’s agnostic to smart gun tech, but that’s a lie: The CEO of Colt’s Manufacturing Company was dropped after backlash to the company’s smart gun prototype; the NRA famously boycotted Smith & Wesson after it agreed to develop smart gun technology as part of a deal with the Bill Clinton administration. Some people go even further: A Maryland gun dealer, who planned to sell a new smart gun, said he received death threats. (Some death threats are empty, but these presumably came from people with guns.) Read more »

Why Pa. Won’t Pass Stricter Gun Laws After the Orlando Massacre

We already know Congress probably won’t enact stricter gun laws in the wake of the worst mass shooting in United States history. It didn’t after Adam Lanza murdered 20 elementary schoolers in 2012, after all; it’s hard to imagine what would be a catalyst for change if that wasn’t. But what about Pennsylvania? Is there a chance the General Assembly will starting requiring background checks for private gun sales, or ensure that it takes residents longer than five minutes to buy the Orlando shooter’s gun of choice, an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle?

Gun control advocates: Sorry, but nope. Not happening. Not under this state legislature.

Gun lovers: Despite what you may have heard, you’ve got nothing to worry about!

The National Rifle Association has a friend in Pennsylvania’s GOP-controlled General Assembly. In its regular “report cards” for lawmakers, the lobbying group gave Republican House Speaker Mike Turzai a perfect grade of A+, Republican House Majority Leader Dave Reed an A, and Republican House Majority Whip Bryan Cutler an A, according to VoteSmart.org’s database of NRA scores. Republican Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman got an A+ and Republican Senate Whip John Gordner got an A, as well.

Read more »

Senator Casey and Commissioner Ross: This New Smartphone Gun Must Be Stopped

cell-phone-gun

Right now, when you picture a handgun, the silhouette doesn’t resemble the iPhone in your pocket. Sen. Bob Casey and Philly Police Commissioner Richard Ross want to keep it that way.

The two joined forces, along with Pittsburgh Chief of Police Cameron McLay, to write a letter urging the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to investigate smartphone guns, a new invention set to hit markets next fall.

Ideal Conceal, a company in Monticello, Minnesota, has manufactured a gun that passably resembles a pewter grey smartphone. CEO Kirk Kjellburg wants to sell these .380 caliber pieces for around $400, but Casey and Ross want ATF to intervene.

In a press conference, Casey acknowledged he usually doesn’t get involved with one company’s product. But for this, he’s making an exception.  Read more »

Why I Carry a Gun

Peter Breslow at Philly Mag’s offices on February 19th. Photograph by Claudia Gavin

Peter Breslow at Philly Mag’s offices on February 19th. Photograph by Claudia Gavin

It’s noon on a busy Friday in Rittenhouse Square, and I’m seated along the inside window at Rouge, one my favorite lunch spots in my city. Things feel very different today. It’s the first time I’m carrying a gun, and I’m a bit uncomfortable, to say the least. Besides having a bulge in my right front jeans pocket that I’m afraid everyone can see, I find myself scanning the room as I wonder who else could be armed. I also wonder: If the unthinkable happened here, where could I take cover? And how would I react?

That might sound a bit paranoid, given the likelihood of a violent event at a tony Center City bistro that sells $18 burgers. I never thought I’d become a “gun person.” To me, the culture of buying and shooting guns always seemed stupid. I’m a local guy through and through — grew up in the Northeast, graduated from Cheltenham High — and have spent most of my career in public relations and marketing. (You may know my mother, Philadelphia PR legend Tina Breslow.) Today, I’m the married father of a 17-year-old high-school junior. We live in Upper Gwynedd, but I’m in the city frequently to represent my clients, who include chefs, restaurateurs, real estate developers and fashion brands. I travel in some elite circles, but I’m also a guy’s guy — hockey dad, sports fan, craft beer lover, cheesesteak eater, bullshit-caller. While I support the Second Amendment in general, I never imagined exercising my right to own a gun. Or that, like a wallet or cell phone, I’d want to carry it with me at all times. Read more »

Trends: Gun Ownership in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania

Stories like Peter Breslow’s aren’t uncommon. As the newly initiated gun owner himself recently learned, mass shootings like the ones in Paris and San Bernardino have a history of spooking Americans into buying guns — and that seems to apply in Pennsylvania as much as anywhere else.


Pennsylvanian interest in concealed-carry permits spiked last December after attacks in California and Paris, mirroring a national trend.

Officials at sheriff’s offices across the greater Delaware Valley say that following those attacks, gun license application numbers soared. In Chester County, Sheriff Carolyn Welsh saw them double after the shootings in Paris, and once tragedy struck in San Bernardino, they really took off — from about 200 applications a week to between 60 and 80 a day.


Gun Permits Issued in Philadelphia, 2004–2014

Gun Permits Issued in Pennsylvania, 2004–2014


Earlier this winter, WNEP and the Morning Call found similar trends upstate in Lehigh and Lackawanna counties. “You never know who’s going to do something, so you have to be prepared,” one Scranton resident told WNEP, after waiting a mere 10 minutes required to get his permit.

There’s another kind of fear that’s been driving firearm sales in recent years — paranoia about President Obama. The thinking goes that if the commander-in-chief is going to enact gun control legislation, it’s best to stock up while the getting is good. In Philadelphia, elsewhere in Pennsylvania, and across the country, sales have climbed during Obama’s time in office, and they’ve spiked when he’s tried to advance gun restrictions.

Smith & Wesson manufactured Peter Breslow’s gun. The company’s stock price swelled to an all-time high last month following the shooting in San Bernardino and Obama’s announcements about new gun restrictions. Chart courtesy of Bloomberg.

Smith & Wesson manufactured Peter Breslow’s gun. The company’s stock price swelled to an all-time high last month following the shooting in San Bernardino and Obama’s announcements about new gun restrictions. Chart courtesy of Bloomberg.


Guns Sold or Transferred in Philadelphia, 2004–2014

Guns Sold or Transferred in Pennsylvania, 2004–2014


NRA spokesman Lars Dalseide says that Philly-area residents should consider owning guns if they’re worried about the security of their homes, families, or businesses (in other words, he says, “If they feel there’s need for self-protection”), but Shira Goodman, executive director of advocacy group CeaseFirePA, begs to differ.

“It does happen, that people interrupt crimes,” she says. “But it doesn’t happen that much.”

The numbers, it turns out, come down on Goodman’s side: last summer, a Washington Post analysis found that for every criminal killed in self-defense, 34 innocents die.

The truth is that despite protests to the contrary, more guns really do mean more gun violence — and that’s according to years of research. Studies have shown that an increase in guns correlates with an increase in homicides, and with an increase in suicides. While mass shootings are harrowing events that demand serious attention, the disproportionate media coverage that they have received threatens to muddle the truth, which is that the average American is much more likely to die from a gun-related suicide than from a gun-related homicide.

In some ways, Pennsylvania is ahead of other states when it comes to gun safety legislation. We have our own state-run background check system, so when a resident buys a gun, he or she is processed not only by the local system, but also by the national one run by the FBI. And the Keystone State requires that all handgun sales be accompanied by a background check, which isn’t the case in some states.

But we can also buy firearms here without a license, registration, or training, and Pennsylvania does not limit how many guns we can buy. Our neighbors New Jersey, Delaware, and New York all have more restrictive gun laws than we do.

Goodman urges Philadelphians to speak with their local representatives about gun legislation. “Let’s have rules that protect us,” she says. “Just like you have the right to carry that gun, I want the right to be safe.”

Police: Upper Dublin Resident Lost Her Gun While Jogging

Not the missing gun. Photo | Shutterstock.com

Not the missing gun. Photo | Shutterstock.com

Just yesterday we brought you a story about Kensington’s Urban Education Academy’s lockdown after a school officer’s gun was stolen from his car. The officer’s firearm has yet to be recovered, according to Philadelphia Police spokeswoman Tanya Little.

But there’s another investigation into a missing gun, this one in Abington Township. The Abington Township Police Department wrote a Facebook post Monday night warning the public of the firearm lost in the Ardsley and North Hills sections of both Upper Dublin and Abington Townships.

Abington police say that an Upper Dublin resident lost her gun while jogging this past Saturday evening, January 30th. Read more »

Philly School Under Lockdown After Officer’s Gun Was Stolen

Kensington Urban Education Academy. Photo | Google Street View

Kensington Urban Education Academy. Photo | Google Street View

UPDATE: The lockdown has reportedly been lifted.

ORIGINAL: Kensington’s Urban Education Academy is under lockdown after a school officer’s gun was stolen.

The officer was off-duty at the time of the theft. Philadelphia Police spokeswoman Christine O’Brien said the school officer left the gun in his car, however, he is unsure whether it was stolen outside of his home or outside of the school.

The school has been locked down as a precaution. Read more »

Tattoo Parlor Owner Shoots at Armed Robbers

Suspect photos via Philadelphia Police Department

Suspect photos via Philadelphia Police Department

Two men who allegedly tried to rob a Philadelphia tattoo parlor with a gun last Thursday night got a big surprise when it turned out that one of the owners had a gun of his own.

Police say the incident happened just before 8 p.m. Two men — one of them carrying a handgun — walked into the Ink Dynasty tattoo parlor on the 1900 block of North 31st Street in Strawberry Mansion and demanded money, according to police. But instead of handing over his hard-earned cash, the co-owner of the tattoo parlor pulled out a gun and began firing.  Read more »

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