Smart, or personalized, guns are firearms that include a safety feature or features that allow it to fire only when activated by an authorized user(s) using primarily biometric or RFID technology. Smart gun technologies can also come in the form of safes, locking devices, smart holsters, and there are modifications in the works to retrofit existing guns. These advanced safety features for firearms can help to prevent misuse, suicides, accidental shootings, use of the weapon against the owner, and disrupt the market for stolen guns.Smart, or personalized, guns are firearms that include a safety feature or features that allow it to fire only when activated by an authorized user(s) using primarily biometric or RFID technology. Smart gun technologies can also come in the form of safes, locking devices, smart holsters, and there are modifications in the works to retrofit existing guns. These advanced safety features for firearms can help to prevent misuse, suicides, accidental shootings, use of the weapon against the owner, and disrupt the market for stolen guns.
There are approximately 20,000 deaths and injuries from unintentional shootings and youth suicides each year. A recent study found that 44% of American households have guns 1.7 million live in homes with guns that are both loaded and unlocked.7 Smart guns, safes and locks would enable loaded firearm to be in close proximity but not fall into the wrong hands and kill or injure someone. Smart guns can also disrupt the market for stolen guns. The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that a quarter million guns are stolen each year, guns that end up on our streets making our communities unsafe. Smart gun technologies would render stolen guns, or those taken away from law enforcement or those with a legal carry permit, useless as lethal weapons.
Parents underestimate the extent to which their children know where their household guns are stored and the frequency with which children handle household guns unsupervised. A Harvard survey of children in gun-owning households found that more than 70 percent of children under age 10 knew where their parents stored their guns — even when they were hidden — and 36 percent of the children reported handling the weapons. 39 percent of parents who thought their child was unaware of the location of the household’s gun were contradicted by their children, and one of every five parents who believed their child had not handled the gun was mistaken. If smart gun technology was used, only an authorized user or users could use the gun, but it would not fire if a child found it.
They also offer consumers who want to own guns a safer alternative, a choice to protect their families in a responsible way. A 2016 Johns Hopkins study found that almost 60% of Americans and 43% of gun owners would buy a smart gun were it on the market. That is up from 14% of gun owners in an NSSF study in 2013.
Smart gun safety technologies are all about providing consumers with the option of purchasing a firearm with new and enhanced safety features that are not currently found on traditional firearms. that will reduce firearm injuries and deaths. People want to see that they work and will encourage adoption when they see a trusted community using them.
Smart gun technologies are not a form of gun control. We support the Second Amendment right to bear arms and our board of advisors includes gun rights advocates and gun owners. Personalized firearms represent a choice for consumers who want safer, childproof options for personal and other security. Smart guns have the potential to make our communities safer without infringing on the rights of gun owners and are the only bridge option currently in the deeply divided debate on firearms in America.
The NRA doesn’t oppose the development of “smart” guns, nor the ability of Americans to voluntarily acquire them. However, NRA opposes any law prohibiting Americans from acquiring or possessing firearms that don’t possess “smart” gun technology.
There have been a few attempts to sell smart guns in the U.S. but because of reliability and a chill on the market by the gun industry, these firearms didn’t sell. Armatix is coming out with a 9mm, the iP9, in 2018. Currently under development are a biometric handgun (Kai Kloepfler), an RFID-enabled shotgun, and a safe holster (Timmy Oh). There is a biometric trigger lock for sale at Cabela’s as of summer 2017.
Smart Tech is a nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness and understanding of smart guns among consumers and violence prevention advocates; you can support our efforts with a donation here. Our innovators are looking for seed-stage investors so this is an opportunity for venture capitalists to invest and also impact social good.