California firearms shop backs away from 'smart gun' after backlash

The Smart System iP1.

The Smart System iP1.  (Armatix)

A California gun shop that put the world's first so-called “smart gun” on its shelves is apparently backing away from any association with the high-tech firearm after intense backlash from customers and gun rights advocates, The Washington Post reported.

The Oak Tree Gun Club, located outside Los Angeles, faced immediate criticism after putting the Armatix iP1 smart gun on sale. The .22-caliber pistol, made by a German company, can only function with an accompanying wristwatch, which is sold separately.

Gun rights advocates worry that the firearm's availability will give a boost to 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 U.S., according to The Washington Post.

Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., unveiled a gun control bill last month requiring all new guns be "personalized" with special features, such as fingerprint-reading technology, so they can only be fired by their owners or other authorized users.

“These people are anti-gunners,” someone said of Oak Tree on the store’s Facebook page, The Post reported. One Yelp 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 store has since denied offering the gun and apologized for confusion on several websites despite the owner's comments to The Post about putting the gun on sale. Armatix executives also sent the paper photos of the smart gun on display at the store.

Belinda Padilla, president of Armatix’s U.S. division, told the newspaper that Oak Tree owner James Mitchell canceled a TV interview about the the gun’s sale after receiving phone calls from gun rights groups questioning the company's decision.

Mitchell "was clearly distraught," Padilla told The Post. “I told him, ‘It’s going to be okay. You’re doing the right thing.’ Then it just got worse.”

Padilla said she was disappointed about Oak Tree’s reaction.

“It’s sad, because at the end of the day, he was trying to do something good, which is provide choice for those people that want safety,” Padilla told the newspaper.

Oak Tree executives did not respond to several requests for comments from The Post about the controversy and why they denied carrying the gun.

Click here for more from The Washington Post.