In a June 12 editorial, The Post supported a proposal by Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening to mandate high-tech "safety features" for all new handguns. These included fingerprint sensors, magnetic locks and radio transmitters, ostensibly to prevent a firearm from being fired by anyone other than the authorized user. It also advocated the mandatory adoption of this technology by handgun manufacturers even prior to its successful design and testing.
Simplicity of operation and reliability of function are two of the most important qualities in a firearm. This goes double when a firearm may have to be used in a defensive situation. Requiring untested, high-tech "safety features" increases the likelihood that a firearm will fail to function at the time it may be needed most. And that could cost police officers and citizens their lives.
The proposed technology limits the utility of a firearm. Will the fingerprint sensor work if I am wearing gloves or if my hands are dirty? Will other magnets I might inadvertently encounter bind up my magnetic lock? Can a policeman's radio transmitter be jammed by an enterprising criminal, rendering him defenseless? What if my wife needs to defend herself while I am away? Must she have her own "smart gun"?
Until these issues can be addressed and near 100 percent reliability of function is ensured, it is impractical and irresponsible to mandate adoption of this technology.
STEPHEN J. POSIVAK