Smart Guns Arriving in U.S. After Decades of Questions

Photo credit: Reuters

Move along smartphones and smartwatches, the newest item coming this year is a smart gun. 

Smart guns may soon become available to consumers in the U.S. after two decades of questions about their reliability as well as concerns that their entrance to the market will bring with them a new wave of government regulations. 

Personalized smart guns can only be fired by verified users, using fingerprint matching and other technology to authenticate the user’s ID before they can operate the gun. Backup PIN pads for when fingerprint readers do not work are also being installed.

Radiofrequency identification technology is one of the potential ways to authenticate identification, allowing the gun to fire only when a chip in the gun communicates with another chip worn by the user, either in a ring or a bracelet. More than one user can be authorized to use a gun. 

The goal is to reduce accidental gun tragedies, which can kill dozens of children every year. They also have the potential to reduce suicides and discourage gun theft, rendering lost or stolen guns completely useless. 

After two decades of workshopping the idea, gunmakers are moving ahead with them, in hopes of releasing them as early as this year. 

Several smart gun makers could begin selling their devices this year. Among the companies making a push into the new industry are LodeStar Works, SmartGunz, and Biofire. 

Cofounder of the four-year-old LodeStar Works company, Gareth Glaser, said he was inspired to create smart guns after hearing too many stories about children being shot while playing with unattended firearms. LodeStar Works unveiled its 9mm smart handgun for its shareholders and investors a few days ago. 

There is pushback against smart guns, from both sides of the gun debate. Gun control supporters say that hackers could interfere with the safety settings and remotely jam radio signals from the gun. Gun rights activists are worried that the introduction of smart guns could lead to more restrictions on other guns. 

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