Fox News excitedly reported on new smart gun technology that increases firearm lethality through improved target accuracy, enthusiasm that stands in stark contrast to the network's earlier criticism of smart gun technology aimed at increasing gun safety.
The TrackingPoint rifle, a new smart gun that debuted last summer from a startup gun company in Texas, uses lasers and computers to increase shot accuracy, enabling even novice shooters to hit a target over 1,000 yards away. The technology has been criticized for decreasing gun safety by making it easier for a criminal, murderer, or terrorist to kill from a distance without detection. Now novice shooters have the ability to hit a target from 1,000 yards away, a distance experts say only a handful of highly trained shooters can normally hit.
Such safety concerns didn't stop Fox News from championing the smart aim technology and even sending one of their own hosts to try it out.
On the May 6 edition of Fox & Friends, anchor Ainsley Earhardt reported on the new smart gun, emphasizing how easy the technology makes target accuracy for someone "who doesn't shoot regularly," when "normally it takes years of practice, patience, and devoted diligence." Earhardt admitted that some people are concerned "that it could turn someone into a killing machine," but downplayed these safety issues by citing the manufacturer's promise that buyers must be approved through a background check. Hosts Steve Doocy, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, and Brian Kilmeade called the smart gun technology "amazing" and "incredible," noting that despite the gun's high cost, the $27,000 price tag is worthwhile because "you never miss":
But this praise for smart gun technology that increases target accuracy and makes killing easier stands in stark contrast to the network's disdain for another smart gun technology aimed at improving gun safety.
Last month in testimony before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science & related Agencies, Attorney General Eric Holder discussed his support for developing and improving technology that would allow guns to only be fired by authorized users, citing the Justice Department's 2015 budget request to fund research on technology to prevent the unauthorized use of firearms.
One idea that Holder floated after meeting with technology experts to increase gun safety was "a bracelet or something that you might wear" that would transmit a radio signal from the wearer to the firearm, ensuring that only authorized users would be able to fire the weapon.
To Fox News, the proposed technology was a threat to Second Amendment rights, and so the network pushed the baseless conspiracy theory that the technology would be used by the government to track lawful gun owners.
Fox & Friends' Doocy characterized the bracelet technology on April 9 as untrustworthy and wondered it if "goes too far," worrying that the technology is new: "It's so early, and you've got so much on the line." He argued, "I remember back in the days when it was the bad guys who wore the bracelets. Now, in the middle of the night when somebody breaks in, before I can shoot my gun, 'where's my bracelet?'"
On April 12's Fox & Friends Saturday, co-hosts Anna Kooiman and Tucker Carlson stoked fears that smart gun technology will allow the government to "mark and track" legal gun owners. Network contributor Katie Pavlich insisted the technology "infringes on Second Amendment rights," and Carlson agreed, concluding the technology "isn't about public safety. It's about undermining your rights."
The disdain for the safer smart gun was shared across right-wing media, and is growing more prominent. According to the New York Times, a National Institute of Justice report found that last year at least three companies "had developed owner-recognition abilities" aimed at preventing "suicides, accidental shorts, and the deaths of police officers whose guns are wrested away in a struggle." The gun lobby, including the National Rifle Association, has acted quickly to oppose such technology, arguing that smart guns 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."
Interestingly enough, when smart gun technology is aimed at curbing gun violence and increasing safety, Fox News cries for the Second Amendment rights, but celebrates smart gun technology that increases target accuracy and makes killing easier. It appears as though the network supports smart gun technology as long as it doesn't increase gun safety.