The California gun store that put the nation’s first smart gun on sale is facing a furious backlash from customers and gun rights advocates who fear the new technology will encroach on their Second Amendment rights if it becomes mandated.
Attacks in online forums and social networks against the Oak Tree Gun Club have prompted the store to back away from any association with the Armatix iP1 smart gun. The protests threaten the nascent smart gun industry, which received a jolt of support recently when a group of Silicon Valley investors offered a $1 million prize for promising new technology.
The vitriol began almost immediately after The Washington Post reported last month that the Armatix iP1 smart gun was for sale at the pro shop. Electronic chips inside the gun communicate with a watch that can be purchased with the gun, making it impossible to fire without the watch. Gun control advocates, who believe smart guns could reduce gun violence, suicides and accidental shootings, marked the moment as a milestone.
“These people are anti-gunners,” someone said of Oak Tree on the store’s Facebook page, adding, “I will never step foot in this dump.” On Yelp, a user wrote, “If you care about the ability to exercise your Second Amendment rights, I would suggest that you do not continue to frequent this place.”
The protests are fueled by worry that being able to purchase the iP1 will trigger a New Jersey law mandating that all handguns in the state be personalized within three years of a smart gun going on sale anywhere in the United States. Similar mandates have been introduced in California and in both chambers of Congress.
Oak Tree, which is located outside of Los Angeles, owes New Jersey an apology, a Facebook poster wrote.
The opposition has apparently shaken Oak Tree, one of the largest gun stores and shooting ranges in California.
Gun rights advocates and Armatix executives have been mystified by the store’s response, which has been to deny ever offering the gun and apologizing for any confusion in several places online, including to a gun rights advocate at Examiner.com.
The denials come despite Oak Tree owner James Mitchell’s extensive comments about why the gun was put on sale there. Armatix executives also provided The Washington Post with two photos of the gun for sale in a gun cabinet at the facility, as well as multiple photos of customers shooting the iP1 at an event in a specially designed firing range with large Armatix signs.
Mitchell has apparently discovered that gun rights advocates have little appetite for smart-gun technology.