What is it like to be a Woman Business Owner & Inventor Terrorized & Threatened by Right Wing Extremist Gun Owners?
Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, May 3, 2014
More power to you!
The GOP has been hijacked by extremist elements.
It’s time to put those sorry, low-life punks in prison for collusion, terrorism and anti-American activity.
‘Smart’ Firearm Draws Wrath of the Gun Lobby
By JEREMY W. PETERS
APRIL 27, 2014
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Belinda Padilla does not pick up unknown calls anymore, not since someone posted her cellphone number on an online forum for gun enthusiasts. A few fuming-mad voice mail messages and heavy breathers were all it took.
Then someone snapped pictures of the address where she has a P.O. box and put those online, too. In a crude, cartoonish scrawl, this person drew an arrow to the blurred image of a woman passing through the photo frame. “Belinda?” the person wrote. “Is that you?”
Her offense? Trying to market and sell a new .22-caliber handgun that uses a radio frequency-enabled stopwatch to identify the authorized user so no one else can fire it. Ms. Padilla and the manufacturer she works for, Armatix, intended to make the weapon the first “smart gun” for sale in the United States.
But shortly after Armatix went public with its plans to start selling in Southern California, Ms. Padilla, a fast-talking, hard-charging Beverly Hills businesswoman who leads the company’s fledgling American division, encountered the same uproar that has stopped gun control advocates, Congress, President Obama and lawmakers across the country as they seek to pass tougher laws and promote new technologies they contend will lead to fewer firearms deaths.
Lately, there has been little standing in the way of the muscle of the gun lobby, whose advocates recently derailed Mr. Obama’s nominee for surgeon general, Vivek Murthy, a Boston doctor who has expressed alarm about the frequency of shooting deaths.
And despite support from the Obama administration and the promise of investment from Silicon Valley, guns with owner-recognition technology remain shut out of the market today.
“Right now, unfortunately, these organizations that are scaring everybody have the power,” Ms. Padilla said. “All we’re doing is providing extra levels of safety to your individual right to bear arms. And if you don’t want our gun, don’t buy it. It’s not for everyone.”
In Georgia on Wednesday, Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law a bill that allows people to carry guns in bars, government buildings and even some churches. The National Rifle Association called the measure historic.
In West Virginia, one of several states like Georgia that in the past year have loosened restrictions on where weapons can be carried, the mayor of Charleston, Danny Jones, has gone to court to challenge a new law that allows guns in public recreation centers. Mr. Jones, a Republican, said he believed this endangered children and could eventually lead to allowing guns in schools. But his is an uphill battle.
“It’s a very lonely fight,” he said. “Sometimes I think I’m going to wake up from this, that it’s just a bad dream.”
Second Amendment defenders argue that once guns with high-tech safety features go on sale, government mandates will follow. They cite a decade-old New Jersey law requiring that within three years of the recognition technology’s becoming available in the United States, all guns sold in the state would have to be “smart.”
“Are we concerned?” asked Lawrence G. Keane, general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for gun manufacturers. “Yes.”
A National Institute of Justice report found last year that at least three companies, including Armatix, had developed owner-recognition abilities. The manufacturers argue that these new technologies could prevent suicides, accidental shootings and the deaths of police officers whose guns are wrested away in a struggle.
As part of the White House response to the shooting rampage in Newtown, Conn., Mr. Obama issued an executive order to spur the research and development of “smart gun” technologies. The Justice Department will soon solicit proposals for grants it plans to award to companies that can make guns with the software.
Investors from Silicon Valley have also pledged support. The Smart Tech Challenges Foundation, led by the entrepreneur and gun-safety advocate Ron Conway, has offered $1 million in prize money and solicited proposals to design the most advanced safety technology.
Firearms manufacturers and gun rights groups say the technology could malfunction and cause a weapon not to fire when someone needed it to work.
The National Rifle Association, in an article published on the blog of its political arm, wrote that “smart guns,” a term it mocks as a misnomer, have the potential “to mesh with the anti-gunner’s agenda, opening the door to a ban on all guns that do not possess the government-required technology.”
Mr. Keane said the industry did not oppose developing the technology. But, he added, “No. 1, the technology is not ready. No. 2, we believe the market ought to work.” Of the Armatix episode in California, he said, “They tried to put the product on the market, and the market reacted.”
Armatix said it had an agreement with the Oak Tree Gun Club, a large gun range and retailer about 20 minutes north of Los Angeles, to sell its iP1 pistol, which can be fired only after the owner enters a five-digit PIN into a watch that transmits a signal to the gun. The gun, which retails for about $1,800, disables itself if it is more than 10 inches from the watch.
But once Oak Tree’s owner, James Mitchell, went public in The Washington Post saying the iP1 “could revolutionize the gun industry,” Second Amendment activists went into overdrive, flooding social media with threats to boycott the club. They took to Calguns.net, a forum for gun owners, and called for vigilante-style investigations of Ms. Padilla and Armatix. They seized on her appearance before a United Nations panel to testify on gun safety and her purported association with a group once led by a protégé of George Soros.
“I have no qualms with the idea of personally and professionally leveling the life of someone who has attempted to profit from disarming me and my fellow Americans,” one commenter wrote.
Ms. Padilla found that any trace of her involvement with Oak Tree had vanished. Signs outside the club advertising Armatix had been taken down. Her branded merchandise — hooded sweatshirts, down jackets (camouflage for men, hot pink for women) — was gone. Her stall at the shooting range where she had shown prospective customers how the iP1 worked, once painted in her company’s signature blue, had a fresh coat of green paint over it. “Honestly, I was in disbelief,” she said. “It’s like I never existed.”
Mr. Mitchell disavowed his relationship with Armatix and denied ever selling the gun. Oak Tree officials did not respond to several requests seeking comment in person and by phone. When a reporter visited the club recently, an employee said, “I don’t know if we’re making any comments.”
Ms. Padilla and Armatix continue to look for stores to carry their pistols. She said she receives emails all the time from people asking her where they can buy one. But she cannot always be sure who might be a potential buyer and who might be just another person looking to harass her. “This is my mission in life,” she said, vowing to keep looking for customers. “If they really understood our technology, they wouldn’t be afraid of it at all.”
A version of this article appears in print on April 28, 2014, on page A14 of the New York edition with the headline: ‘Smart’ Firearm Draws Wrath of the Gun Lobby.