Will smart guns take off with help from Obama push?

Smart guns are back in the news after President Obama gave an update Friday on his administration’s push to speed up the rollout of technology that might help reduce gun deaths.

“As long as we’ve got the technology to prevent a criminal from stealing and using your smartphone, then we should be able to prevent the wrong person from pulling a trigger on a gun,” the president said in a Facebook post. Obama first announced in January that he had asked key federal law enforcement agencies to look into the use of smart guns, as Michelle Quinn wrote then.

According to a report (PDF) released Friday by the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Defense, the government is now working on defining by October the standards manufacturers must meet in order for their smart guns to be considered for purchase by law enforcement; is continuing to work with gun makers to test smart-gun technology; and is offering federal grants toward the purchase of such technology.

Some of the technology being used in smart guns include fingerprint authentication; RFID, which unlocks guns when activated by a token; and mechanical locks.

Silicon Valley angel investor Ron Conway, whose Smart Tech Challenge Foundation funds smart-gun startups, tweeted support for the Obama administration’s plan.

Although the report mentioned that the federal government will be working with law enforcement throughout the nation on these initiatives, some cops are wary.

“Police officers in general, federal officers in particular, shouldn’t be asked to be the guinea pigs in evaluating a firearm that nobody’s even seen yet,” James Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, told Politico. “We have some very, very serious questions.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., and a member of the White House’s Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, said in a statement Monday: “I hope my Republican colleagues will step away from their National Rifle Association masters and realize that the President’s actions are rational, they are helpful and they will save lives. I hope Congress can follow his lead to protect our nation.”

Not surprisingly, the NRA — which in the past has said it doesn’t oppose smart guns but said “no viable guns equipped with such technology exist” — doesn’t much like the president’s plan.

“President Obama’s obsession with gun control knows no boundaries,” Jennifer Baker, director of NRA-ILA Public Affairs, said in a statement Friday.

The potential market for smart guns is hard to pinpoint. One recent estimate says smart guns could command $1 billion of the $3 billion U.S. gun market within a decade. But the wider gun and ammunition industry is reportedly worth $13.5 billion. And how much will smart-gun tech cost? One startup, Dual:Lock, reportedly plans to sell thumbprint-based stainless-steel “sleeves” for loaded guns for $250 each.

 

Photo: Jonathan Mossberg, whose iGun Technology is working to develop a “smart gun,” demonstrates the firearm in Daytona Beach, Fla., April 7, 2016. (AP/Lisa Marie Pane)

 

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  • Bob Owens

    Neither the NRA nor the NSSF (the REAL gun lobby) oppose smart gun technology, and never have.

    It’s the market of gun buyers which opposes it. All the NRA and NSSF are worried about is that the govt would attempt to make this failed technology mandatory.

    After more than 30 years of development and tens of millions in public and private investment, the “best” smart gun on the market is too fragile to function with a caliber suitable for self-defense, and fails 100% of the time if you’re forced to make an off-hand shot.

    No “regular Joe” citizen would pay $200,000 for a Honda Civic with a go-cart engine that doesn’t start half the time. nor do they want to pay $1,800 for a gun which fails to perform as well as a $250 gun.

    Quite literally the only people who want smart guns are those in the gun control movement. As shooters, we want reliable firearms, which smart guns have have never come close to being.

  • rocketmartin

    Peruse this page and then try to calculate who will engineer the ‘smartness’ into the myriad of firearms people choose to buy and then try to calculate how much that will cost.

  • FranklinsGhost

    Any company that participates in this smart gun thing needs to be boycotted. Any politician who forces this technology down our throats needs to be voted out of office as quickly as possible so their peers get the message. No more gun laws. No more technological attempts to make it harder for law-abiding gun owners to defend themselves. Ina free country there will always be accidents. That’s the price of freedom. if politicians want us to wrap up in bubble wrap before stepping out the door they would be laughed out of office. The same response should occur with these proposals

  • Glenn Dyrhaug

    This will not work in a household with a husband and wife and just one gun. How will they both be able to use it?

 
 
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