The Market For Smart Guns
While technological breakthroughs in other industries have helped save lives across America, from artificial hearts to anti-lock brakes, we have seen little innovation in firearms safety. Yet there is demand and market potential:
- 6 in 10 Americans say they would consider buying a smart gun (American Journal of Public Health).
- Handguns make up 42 percent of the country’s privately owned firearms and 63% of owners cite security and safety as their reason for purchasing a gun (Harvard University and Northeastern University).
- Nearly 11 million guns were produced in 2013, the highest number ever recorded (U.S. State Dept.).
- 15.2 million guns are estimated to have been sold in America in 2015 (National Review)
- Over 27 million background checks for gun purchases were done in 2016 (FBI).
- Firearms are an $11 billion per year industry with over 300 million existing guns in circulation (Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, IRS).
- There are several new Smart Guns being prepared for the US market including Biofire Technologies’s fingerprint access handgun, Jonathan Mossberg’s iGun, along with Armatix’ new personalized 9mm handgun.
Smart guns and law enforcement
- The Department of Justice has been working with law enforcement to develop standards for smart gun manufacturing. As experts in gun safety and use, law enforcement is the ideal community to inform the standards for smart gun technologies. Law enforcement is setting the standards, not just piloting the technologies.
- Law enforcement must contend with hundreds of thousands of stolen firearms that could be rendered useless with smart gun technologies. In fact, more than 250,000 guns are lost or stolen each year, 80 percent of which are never recovered.
- The Department of Justice recently released standards for smart guns to help guide R&D and manufacturing and has planned funding for law enforcement agencies to purchase smart guns.
Smart guns and consumer choice
The decision to purchase smart guns should be a matter of choice, and not a mandate. But to make that choice, we need to have these technologies on the market. Consumers should be able to have the option to purchase firearms that are personalized in order to both safeguard their families against accidental injury and provide the certainty that they will be rendered useless if stolen.
- None of the technologies in development have any surveillance or tracking capacity built into the design.
- There are guns in development for different uses: hunting, personal protection, law enforcement.
- There is not a one-size-fits-all solution – different technology meets different needs. Each type of technology offers benefits depending on user preference. For example, if a user prefers to wear gloves, then RFID would be the appropriate solution. Biometrics might be the preference for personal protection and range use.