Smart Phones, Smart Televisions, Smart Cars, What Is Next….How About Smart Guns?
Contributing Author: Michele Linley, Senior Advisor, NDAA’s Juvenile Justice Program
A smart gun (or personalized gun) uses technology to authenticate a user’s identity and disable the gun if anyone else tries to fire it. Two different companies hope to have the guns available this year. One company unveiled their version to shareholders and investors in Boise, Idaho while the other company says that law enforcement is beta testing their version. Different manufacturers use different mechanisms to enable the gun to fire. The unlocking mechanisms discussed includes fingerprints, radio frequency identification technology and a keypad.
A few states have laws that mention smart or personalized gun technology. Massachusetts’ law mentions personalized gun technology as an option instead of locking devices, New Jersey law will require firearms dealers to make at least one personalized handgun available for sale, and Maryland law defines a personalized handgun and requires the Maryland Handgun Roster Board to review the status of technology and report to the Governor.
The hope is that this technology will make stolen guns useless, thus reducing youth violent crime and reducing deaths from youth playing with unsecured guns. Some articles quote the parents of youth killed when a gun was left unsecured, supporting this new technology. Juvenile prosecutors should be aware this technology is being developed and, in the future, may be used as part of a broader strategy to address gun violence among youth. However, it has been met with concern that the technology will keep a legitimate firearm owner from being able to use their firearm quickly enough to protect themselves or others from harm in a crisis.
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