A Maryland-based gun store abruptly reversed its decision to sell a controversial “smart gun” after threats were made to boycott the store and protest sales, the owner says.
In a video posted to its Facebook page, Engage Armament co-owner Andy Raymond said he’d agreed to stock the Armatix iP1 pistol in his store to get “anti-gun people or fence sitters into guns,” he said, arguing shooters have a right to buy any kind of firearm they want. His shop had initially agreed to be the first in his state to offer the pistol — which only fires if it receives a signal from a specially-designed watch — for customers.
“There are so many people on the fence about gun ownership. … I thought that if you get people who are like that into guns, that would be a good thing,” Raymond said in his video. “How can the NRA or people want to prohibit a gun when we’re supposed to be pro gun; when we’re supposed to say any gun is good in the right person’s hands.”
“If you’re a fence sitter … this gun would have worked for those people,” he added.
The NRA has publicly stated that the organization is not against the technology, but is opposed to mandates on ownership.
But only a few hours after he announced Engage would offer the iP1, Raymond abruptly reversed course, saying he’d misunderstood the national implications his sales might bring and underestimated the outcry it would cause.
Raymond is the latest gun shop owner to face the wrath of gun rights activists over so called “smart-guns.” In March, a California gun store pulled its stock of Armatix iP1s from its shelves, denying the shop had ever agreed to sell the high-tech handgun. Protesters argued the sale would trigger a New Jersey law that mandates the sale of “smart guns” three years after gun stores start offering them to customers.
Additionally, Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Ed Markey has introduced a bill that would mandate the sale of smart guns nationally within two years.
“I thought this gun was already for sale so it didn’t matter what I did,” Raymond explained. “My apologies to the people of New Jersey. I did not know that I would be screwing you over.”
The German-made Armatix iP1 is the first commercially viable handgun that uses radio frequency identification to unlock its use. The .22 caliber pistol retails for $1,399, with an additional $399 for the wrist watch that will activate it.
Though Raymond claimed he’d received threats over his shop’s Armatix sales, Maryland gun owners have been widely supportive of his decision. Engage is a popular store with the state’s gun owners and Raymond has played a key role in fighting recently enacted gun control laws there.
“Your thought process behind selling the selling of the firearm is a good one,” writes New Jersey resident Rob Heintz on the Engage Armament Facebook page. “I’m sure there would be a ton of people who support you on that if it wasn’t for our politicians. … I’ll make it a point to stop at your store and purchase something next time I’m down there.”