Even though expanded background checks failed in the Senate, that hasn’t stifled efforts to find alternative ways to curb gun violence. The answer, entrepreneurs say, is the ‘smart gun’.
Researchers have been working on grip-recognition, which is able to measure the size and shape of the hand holding the gun and the pressure applied through sensors.
“If a child tries to grab the gun, their hand geometry is actually going to be smaller,” says Michael Recce, associate professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. “So they’re not going to touch the sensors, and they’re not going to be able to fire the gun.”
Researchers say this would also prevent criminals from firing stolen weapons.
But grip recognition isn’t the only technology being developed. Radio frequency is also being used in weapons, which unlocks the firearm with a watch and a PIN. Some companies are also using this technology with a micro-chip that activates the gun and can be placed in a ring or bracelet, for example.
Although the president included this type of technology in the list of executive actions announced in the wake of the Newtown massacre, ‘smart guns’ aren’t available in the United States yet because there’s no demand.
But is this technology reliable, safe and practical? Lawrence Keane, senior vice president and general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, doesn’t think so. “It can actually encourage people to leave loaded firearms accessible, relying upon the technology which can fail at the most inopportune time,” he told CNN Money.
Josh Perkins of Jackson Gun and Ammo wonders whether the technology will stand up to the recoil of the firearm and if so, for how long? Battery operation also factors into the technology’s reliability, as do electromagnetic currents, which can cause the technology to malfunction.
Colt’s Manufacturing, which researched and developed a ‘smart gun’ prototype, estimates that it would add approximately $300 to $400 to the price of a firearm.
The NRA believes the focus should be on firearms safety education—not new technology.