First "smart gun" actually hits market

AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane

So-called smart guns are often heralded as the future of firearms. The media talks about them in glowing terms, all about how technology can prevent these guns from being used by unauthorized people such as kids or gun thieves.


However, much of that talk has been nothing but talk.

Every “smart gun” we’ve seen has fallen short and never made it to market. At least, not until now.

The world’s first “smart gun” hit the market Thursday, complete with a life-saving fingerprint unlocking system that prevents “unauthorized” people such as kids and criminals from firing it.

The cutting-edge 9mm handgun locks out everybody except the owner and users specifically approved by the owner — technology that could improve gun safety in America, according to reps from the gun-making firm Biofire.

“Right now it seems like the entire country is always processing a new tragedy involving children and guns,” the Colorado-based firm’s CEO Kai Kloepfer told The Post. “We are offering a real solution, at a time when solutions seem very hard to come by.”

The $1,499 gun unlocks in less than a second, using either a fingerprint or facial recognition sensor, then quickly locks again when it’s no longer in use.

So, one is finally on the market.

In and of itself, I don’t object to smart guns. I object to laws trying to mandate them, but I don’t object to them in principle. If someone wants to sell them and someone else wants to buy them, so be it.


However, I have questions about how reliable the technology actually is.

Let’s be honest, fingerprint readers we generally have can cause problems when the finger in question is wet, such as with sweat. I live in South Georgia, where we break a sweat just going to check the mail. It’s hard to imagine this sensor will work flawlessly in that environment.

I really believe it’s only a matter of time before I’m writing a story about someone who was killed when their “smart gun” malfunctioned. If not, it’ll only be due to low numbers in adopting such weapons.

Of course, even if it works exactly as advertised, I have other questions, such as what is an owner of such a gun supposed to do when trying to teach other members of their family to use the weapon? Either they’ll have to get a second, non-smart gun–thus negating the supposed benefits of having a “smart gun” in the first place–or just skip teaching gun safety in general.

“But at least criminals won’t be able to use it,” someone claims, but I think they’re being optimistic. If they’re willing to steal biometrically-locked cell phones, they’ll definitely steal biometrically-locked handguns.


Another factor that’s likely to work against Biofire here is the cost of these guns. That’s more than three times the going rate for a typical Glock or Smith & Wesson M&P.  That’s going to work against these weapons, making them only available for the very wealthy.

Of course, costs may go down over time, but don’t hold your breath.

But there is an upside here.

A lot of people who currently refuse to have a gun may well buy one of these, believing them to be safer, and thus enter the world of gun ownership. Over time, they may find the joy of shooting and become gun people, thus bolstering the ranks of those who refuse to give up their guns.

So, that’s good, at least.

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