In Gun Battle, NYPD Blue Tests a New Technology
Business + Economy

In Gun Battle, NYPD Blue Tests a New Technology

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

During an appearance on CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday morning, NYC Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told hold Bob Schieffer that in the continuing battle against gun violence, "the problem is the concealable handguns. Sixty percent of the problems in New York City are handguns," said Kelly.

Kelly said there's been a "record low in shootings" recently in New York City, but that there are "still way too many."

His remarks came one day after a march on Washington that saw thousands of Americans express support for President Obama's call for a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, as well as background checks for gun sales. The protestors also urged safety training for all buyers of firearms.

Kelly said Sunday morning that "the universal background check can be helpful. About six million weapons were sold last year without a background check. [So] it will also be helpful in identifying store purchases... Over time, the universal background check will have in impact."

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Last week, the NYPD acknowledged that it's been testing a new technology that will allow police to detect guns carried by criminals without using the typical pat-down procedures that have long been used. A scanner sitting within a truck or out on the street can detect terahurtz radiation that's given off by human bodies or by inanimate objects. The T-rays, as they're known, pass through just about everything but metal. The NYPD said it's worked with the Department of Defense and the London Metropolitan Police on the technology.

"Basically, everyone emits terahurtz radiation," Kelly said on Sunday about the new technology. "We've tested it. We've just received the latest prototype. It's too big for deployment in a reasonable way... But we're getting there. We're encouraged. We hope to be using it at least experimentally in the next six months."

Schieffer asked Kelly if he had any concerns about the invasion of personal privacy that comes with the use of this new technology.

"This is New York," said Kelly with a rueful smile. "No question about it. We're working with our attorneys to see that it's appropriately used.... We want to get everybody on board before this [technology] goes to widespread use. New York is probably the most litigious environment in the world. We have to be [aware] of that before we use this."

Kelly added, "We're not looking to infringe on anybody's right to have guns legally... We're looking at the illegal gun ownership problem. We're clearly not looking to infringe on the rights of legitimate people to possess guns legally."

William Powers, director of the Crowdwire project at Bluefin Labs, which last year tracked the multiple ways in which so-called Big Data could enhance election outcomes and much more, told The Fiscal Times, "Every major technological advance has built-in perils. [One] danger is that we'll build out systems to enhance business effectiveness and government control, at the expense of individual privacy and freedom."

The [New York] Daily News, in an article last week about the police department's new gun technology, put it this way: "Get ready for scan-and-frisk... The [NYPD] just received a machine that reads terahurtz, the natural energy emitted by people and inanimate objects, [that] allows police to view concealed weapons from a distance."

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Paul Ryan, in a separate appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, said that when it comes to combating gun violence, the country must move past current discussions about gun control -- "it's our worst nightmare," he said, in a veiled reference to the killing of 20 six- and seven-year-old children in the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT -- to take on other serious issues at stake. "What's our policy on mental illness?" Ryan asked rhetorically. "What's going on in our culture that produces this kind of thing?"

The Republican congressman from Wisconsin and budget expert said that all of this must be discussed and examined when it comes to finding solutions to combating gun violence in America.