Maryland shop jumps on selling smart guns, backs off same day after backlash

Maryland gun shop owner Andy Raymond, right, recently backpedaled on carrying the Armatix iP1, a .22 caliber smart guns show on counter. (Photo credit: Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

Maryland gun shop owner Andy Raymond, right, quickly backpedaled on carrying the Armatix iP1, a .22 caliber smart gun. (Photo credit: Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

Owners of a gun store in Rockville, Maryland, decided this week to sell the controversial Armatix smart gun, then quickly changed their minds in the wake of fierce outcry and criticism from some members of the gun community.

Andy Raymond, the co-owner of Engage Armament, made the decision to end the store’s association with the German company that makes the smart gun following a series of negative comments that included alleged death threats.

This move comes just two months after the first shop to carry the firearm, the Oak Tree Gun Club in California, also reversed course on selling the contentious pistol.

“I never sold the gun. I don’t stock the f*cking gun. I’ve never even been paid by Armatix,” posted Andy Raymond on the company’s Facebook page just hours after an article on the shop’s newest offering appeared in the Washington Post.

The Post article, published Thursday, noted that Raymond was aware of the controversy associated with the Armatx pistol but saw the chance to carry the gun as simply an opportunity to exercise the Second Amendment.

“That’s the antithesis of everything that we pro-gun, pro-Second Amendment people should be. You are not supposed to say a gun should be prohibited. Then you are being no different than the anti-gun people who say an AR-15 should be prohibited,” Raymond was quoted as saying.

He also stated that recent legislative activity in Maryland has curtailed sales in the shop, which specializes in AR-15 builds, and hoped the new gun would help to turn that around.

The Armatix iP1 uses an RFID-equipped watch paired to the handgun to electronically unlock the pistol. (Photo credit: Armatix)

The Armatix iP1 uses an RFID-equipped watch paired to electronically unlock the pistol. (Photo credit: Armatix)

The Aramtix iP1, commonly referred to as a “smart gun,” will only fire if the companion wristwatch, which contains RFID technology, is within range of the gun itself. Without the watch, the gun will not shoot.

Critics of smart guns argue that the technology is immature, pointing to polls which have found that roughly three-quarters of the public have said they would not buy a smart gun, would not trust the reliability of one, and that the government should not mandate such technology.

That has not prevented the iP1 from being celebrated by U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), who touted the merits of smart gun technology when he unveiled his ‘Handgun Trigger Safety Act’ on Feb. 20. Likewise, Attorney General Eric Holder has voiced support for smart guns in a recent testimony before Congress.

It appears Raymond was not prepared for the fury that was unleashed on him personally as well as the store once the news got out that he would start stocking the smart gun. Of primary concern was that his sale of the firearm could have precipitated the rollout of dormant New Jersey laws that would mandate adoption of the technology.

This led Raymond to post to social media a lengthy explanation last Thursday as to why he had originally intended to stock the gun, and then, citing death threats against himself, his girlfriend and his dog, had changed his mind. This post and other posts going back to April 30 have since been deleted from Engage Armament’s Facebook page.

Meanwhile, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV), a well-known gun-control group, has posted Raymond’s 12-minute video rant on the Armatix fiasco to their own YouTube account. The CSGV is calling the video “graphic and disturbing” for what they classify as threats against elected officials.

Guns.com reached out to both Raymond and Armatix-U.S. for comment. We are currently awaiting a response.

UPDATE: 5/6/2014, 11:41ET.

Andy Raymond provided Guns.com with the following statement on the issue of Engage Armament carrying the Armatix iP1.

“I think everyone lost in this. The libs lost their opportunity to buy their wet dream pistol, and the conservatives cannibalized us. I think it was great for a liberal like Chris Hayes to call for the law to be overturned and moreover to get the New Jersey senator on her show who also said it was time to repeal it. I mean that’s progress, for our side. I think a gun like this has a market, but with the fencesitters and anti-gun people, and if we can get them into buying guns thats a great thing. Make them gunowners!”

Raymond also stated that he did not agree with the New Jersey “smart-gun” law, calling it “outrageous, illegal, and unconstitutional.”

Guns.com is still awaiting a response from Armatix-US.