Obama Promotes 'Smart Gun' Use While Top Recipient of Industry Money

During Barack Obama's town hall event hosted by Anderson Cooper on the Cable News Network Thursday evening, the president encouraged the use of “smart guns” that are designed to be fired only if the owner has a chip in a band or bracelet that prevents anyone -- from children to criminals -- from using the firearm.

However, the Democratic official failed to mention that he was the top recipient of campaign cash in 2008 and 2012 from the “smart gun” manufacturing industry, which stands to benefit from an influx of millions of dollars from his executive action calling for more research into the technology.

“I want to pick up on some things where I think there should be consensus,” Obama stated, and “I would think there might be a market for that. You could sell that gun.”

The president then referred to the hindrances regarding development of that technology  “Back in 1997, the CEO of Colt said, you know, we can design or are starting to develop guns where you can only use it if you've got a chip.”

“And a boycott was called against them, and they had to back off” that project, he noted.

“The same with Smith and Wesson,” the president continued. “They were in the process of developing similar technology, and they were attacked by the NRA (National Rifle Association) as surrendering” to gun-control advocates.

But according to an article written for the Washington Free Beacon by Stephen Gutowksi and Joe Schoffstall, the National Institute of Justice -- a research, development and evaluation agency of the Department of Justice -- released a report in 2013 consisting of a review of the smart gun industry.

Of the smart gun companies that made political contributions, Obama was the top recipient of campaign funds while running for election and re-election, according to campaign finance data.

On Tuesday, the president ordered the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security to undertake new research programs into smart gun technology.

He told them to produce a joint report “outlining a research-and-development strategy designed to expedite the real-world deployment of such technology for use in practice within the next three months.”

Gutowski and Schoffstall indicated that Obama also instructed the departments to “consult with other agencies that acquire firearms and take appropriate steps to consider whether including such technology in specifications for acquisition of firearms would be consistent with operational needs.”

Sandia National Laboratories, a company that acts as a contractor to the United States Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, has given tens of thousands of dollars to Obama’s coffers, donating $19,900 to his 2008 campaign.

In addition, the company donated $17,090 more in contributions to Obama’s campaign during the 2012 election, the reporters stated.

The laboratories fall under the umbrella of the Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of the national defense company Lockheed Martin. The corporation -- which also donated to Republican candidates -- gave a total of $262,376 to Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns.

The New Jersey Institute of Technology, a Newark-based public research university also mentioned within the report, has additionally given more to Obama in 2008 and 2012 than any other candidate.

Also, the institute gave $8,050 of its $9,100 in political donations to Obama. In 2012, the institute gave an overwhelming majority of its donations to Obama, this time totaling $9,625.

“NJIT is a public university and does not make political donations,” institute spokesperson Lauren D. Ugorji said. She added that the donations were not given directly by the university but came from its employees.

Sandia National Laboratories also identified donations listed under their name on federal filings as coming from employees and not directly from the company.

“Sandia National Laboratories did not give campaign donations,” company spokesperson Sue Major Holmes said. “The OpenSecrets website states that all campaign contributions came from individuals. Those individuals work for Sandia, and in accordance with campaign finance law, listed their employer.”

Also during Thursday's town hall event, Obama indicated: “Now, to me, this does not make sense.”

He continued:

If you are a gun owner, I would think that you would at least want a choice so that if you wanted to purchase a firearm that could only be used by you, in part to avoid accidents in your home, in part to make sure that if it's stolen, it's not used by a criminal, in part if there's an intruder, you pull the gun, but you -- somehow it gets wrested away from you, that gun can't be turned on you and used on you.

One of the oldest concepts in politics is: “Follow the money.” Obama's proposal might be laudable if he hadn't benefited greatly from donations given to his political campaigns by the industry he now seeks to promote.

Randy Hall
Randy Hall