After Attorney General Eric Holder discussed his support for developing and improving technology that would allow guns to only be fired by authorized users, members of the right-wing media concocted a baseless conspiracy theory that the technology would be used by the government to spy on lawful gun owners.
Holder: We Can Develop Gun Safety Technology While Preserving Second Amendment Rights
At Department Of Justice Budget Hearing, Holder Said Smart Gun Technology Could Prevent Misuse Of Firearms. During April 4 testimony before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science & Related Agencies, Holder discussed how the Justice Department's 2015 budget request asks for funding for research on technology to prevent unauthorized use of firearms:
HOLDER: Vice President Biden and I had a meeting with a group of technology people, and talked about how guns can be made more safe by making them either through fingerprint identification, the gun talks to a bracelet or something that you might wear, how guns can be used only by the person who is lawfully in possession of the weapon.
So it's those kinds of things that I think we want to try to explore so that we can make sure that people have the ability to enjoy their Second Amendment rights, while at the same time decreasing the misuse of weapons that lead to the kinds of things that we see on a daily basis, you know, where people, kids especially, are struck down by --
REP. ANDY HARRIS (R-MD): Sure. No one wants that to occur. And you know we looked at that in the state of Maryland well over 10 years ago, and I just would like -- and I'll submit a question for the record -- to actually separate out how much you intend to spend on those grants to gun safe technology. [House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science & Related Agencies, 4/4/14]
Of $1.1 Billion Requested By DOJ For Gun Safety, $2 Million Earmarked For Smart Gun Technology Prizes. A memo summarizing DOJ's budget request for 2015 describes how the Office of Justice Programs would like to use $2 million “to support the Administration's challenge to the private sector to develop innovative and cost-effective gun safety technology” :
The Budget includes $2.0 million for OJP to support the Administration's challenge to the private sector to develop innovative and cost-effective gun safety technology. The funding for this initiative will provide prizes for those technologies that are proven to be reliable and effective. This will be funded from OJP's 2 percent research set-aside. [U.S. Department of Justice, FY 2015 Budget Request, accessed 4/9/14]
Conservatives Baselessly Speculate Technology Will Be Used By The Government To Monitor Gun Owners
Washington Times Senior Opinion Editor Emily Miller Claims Holder “Is Going To Track Law-Abiding Citizens” With Technology. During an April 9 appearance on Fox & Friends, Miller said, “Obviously with Eric Holder, I mean he likes to track everything, including reporters, so it's no surprise he is going to track law-abiding citizens who are exercising their Second Amendment rights.” Co-host Steve Doocy introduced the segment by wondering if the research proposal meant that Holder is “pushing a plan to make gun owners wear an electronic bracelet that would have to be worn before a gun could be fired,” while an on-screen graphic asked, “Mandatory Gun Bracelets?” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/9/14]
Sean Hannity: Proposal Sounds Like An “Orwellian Nightmare” Where Government Tracks Gun Owners. From the April 8 edition of The Sean Hannity Show:
HANNITY: What do you know about Eric Holder? There is a story out today, Washington Free Beacon, he said Friday, and I missed it, that gun tracking bracelets are something the Justice Department wants to explore as part of its gun control efforts. Now that sounds to me like a Orwellian nightmare where the government is going to be tracking your gun and where you are at any given minute with that gun. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 4/8/14]
Townhall's Michael Schaus: “Holder Pushes To Track American Gun Owners.” Townhall Finance associate editor Michael Schaus claimed that Holder suggested tracking gun owners “via Google-style technology” in an April 8 column titled, “Eric 'Fast and Furious' Holder Pushes to Track American Gun Owners” (emphasis and ellipses in original):
Of course, Holder isn't proposing such an idea for his gun running ambitions... He's suggesting it for you and me. He's suggesting that the government ramp-up their tracking of legal firearms -- via Google-style technology -- because America's 100+ million lawful gun owners are obviously the problem here. (My kingdom for a sarcasm font.) [Townhall, 4/8/14]
Schaus Column Promoted By The National Rifle Association. The NRA promoted Schaus' column on Twitter and also hosted him on NRA News where he claimed, “For some reason they feel like they need to keep an eye on where your gun is and where my gun is, and Eric Holder can do pretty much whatever he wants with government funds.” [Twitter.com, 4/8/14, NRA News, Cam & Company, 4/8/14]
Fox News Contributor Katie Pavlich: Holder “Is Suggesting Gun Owners Be Tracked With Smart Gun Bracelets.” Pavlich, who is Townhall's news editor, posted an article claiming Holder wanted gun owners “tracked with smart gun bracelets.” She eventually appended an update undermining the entire premise of the post, but it still bears the original headline, “Eric Holder: Lets [sic] Track Gun Owners With 'Smart Gun' Bracelets” :
While the national debate about gun control has simmered, anti-gun activists are hard at work behind the scenes to come up with new ways to push their agenda.
The most recent attempt comes from Attorney General Eric Holder, who is suggesting gun owners be tracked with smart gun bracelets tied to handguns. Naturally, he's doing it under the guise of “gun safety” and “common sense reforms.”
Update: Bob Owens over at Bearing Arms points out that Holder was referring to smart gun technology bracelets/watches that link up with firearms, not necessarily “gun tracking bracelets.” [Townhall, 4/8/14]
FoxNews.com Republishes Washington Free Beacon Article That Promotes “Tracking” Myth. From an April 8 article on FoxNews.com:
[FoxNews.com, accessed 4/9/14]