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Smart guns fire up both sides of gun control debate

By CBS News 9:29 AM May 6, 2014

It’s something straight out of a James Bond movie: a gun that only its owner can fire.

That kind of technology is now available in the real world. It’s called a “smart gun.” Made in Germany, it requires users to wear a radio-controlled watch to fire it, reports CBS News’ Jan Crawford.

Maryland gun store owner Andy Raymond announced plans last week to sell it, but within 30 minutes of news getting out, the protests started coming in.

“Things went crazy,” Raymond said. “People just started calling. All three of our lines were just boom, boom, boom. A hundred emails. I mean, just like that.”

One caller warned Raymond’s business would be burned to the ground. Another threatened that Raymond would get what was coming to him.

It’s a weapon that fires up people on both sides of the gun control debate.

Some groups who support stringent gun laws say it could lead to wider gun ownership.

Gun rights supporters are even more opposed. They say it could eventually make smart gun technology mandatory in all weapons.

So Raymond backed down, announcing his decision not to sell the guns in a video rant he posted on Facebook.

“So anyway, obviously I received numerous death threats today. I really [expletive] appreciate that, it’s really [expletive] classy,” Raymond said in the video.

A similar situation happened in Southern California in March. The Oak Tree Gun Club planned to sell the smart gun, but there was a backlash from gun owners. The store reversed course.

“I don’t know anyone who wants a smart gun,” said Lee Williams, investigative reporter for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune who writes a gun column.

He said opponents see the smart gun laws as a back door way to ban guns.

“If you require only smart guns to be sold and only smart guns to be possessed, the guns that they own now will be declared illegal and it could be a further intrusion on their 2nd Amendment rights,” Williams said.

A New Jersey law would do just that. It would eventually require all handguns sold in the state to have the same kind of technology.

California is considering a similar law and Democrats in Congress have proposed federal legislation.

As the technology becomes more available, however, people on both sides say it’s only a matter of time before these guns get on the market.

“The technology isn’t going away,” Raymond said. “If people want to defeat it they need to defeat it in the free market. Then don’t buy it.”

Groups including law enforcement are not ready to invest because they say the technology isn’t reliable yet.

© 2014 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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