Chiappa Firearms, the Italian manufacturer of the innovative, upside-down Rhino revolver and other guns, recently announced it would begin putting RFID (radiofrequency identification) chips in its new guns next year.

As marketing errors go, this is one of the worst ever. After all, what gun owner would want a firearm with a radio chip embedded in the grip? Actually, RFID chips are passive. They only respond when a scanner is held near them, so these chips are not a “tracking device” that will allow someone to follow an item’s movements.

RFID is used for inventory control and the technology is already being used in clothing and other products. Similar chips, like the ones used for identification purposes, have been embedded in pets for years. As the price of the tiny chips drops, you will probably see them embedded into everything, just as bar codes are printed on almost all packaging today.

However, it is possible to build more powerful RFID receivers that can read chips from a greater distance.

As the following damage-control press release demonstrates, there has been a lot of chatter on the Internet about this topic already. Perhaps chipped Chiappas will go down in marketing history along with New Coke and the Edsel – or maybe not.