There are several forms of smart gun technology under development. Dynamic Grip Recognition technology, for example, uses sensors in a gun's grip, which, like voice-recognition technology, can be trained to recognize a particular person's grip pattern profile to determine authorized and unauthorized users.
Others smart gun technologies include fingerprint recognition through infrared readers and the use of RFID radio chips that, like a car, only enables a gun when a person carrying the chip is holding it. Technologists developing smart guns say multiple users, even thousands of them, could have their unique identities programmed into a weapon.
Biometrics technology proponents readily admit that their systems can be thwarted, and no single technology or piece of legislation will solve the gun safety problem. There are also logistical issues. For example, what if the person carrying the gun forgets his or her RFID chip and can't operate the weapon?
In response to the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. last December, President Barrack Obama issued an executive order directing the National Institute of Justice to conduct a study on the state of various smart gun technologies.
Safe Gun Technology (SGTi) co-founder Charlie Miller believes his company's technology could have stopped Adam Lanza from killing 26 in Newtown, Conn. last December.
Columbus, Ga.-based SGTi's technology uses fingerprint recognition through an infrared reader. The biometrics reader enables three other physical mechanisms that control the trigger, the firing pin and the gun hammer.
Like other smart gun technology companies, however, SGTi has found itself with a lack of funding to produce a product. In fact, current prototypes of some smart gun technologies are based on 10-year-old microprocessors because of a lack of funds, according Donald H. Sebastian, senior vice president for research and development at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT).
A half dozen campus police at the NJIT already carry smart guns developed on campus that prevent unauthorized use by disabling the trigger mechanism through Dynamic Grip Recognition technology. "We have found no interest on the part of gun manufacturers in commercializing any aspect of user-authenticating weapons," Sebastian said in a December interview with Computerworld.
In addition to requiring handguns to be fitted with smart gun technology, the Personalized Handgun Safety Act of 2013 would:
Authorize grants, to be administered through the National Institute of Justice, for further development and improvement of personalized handgun technology.
Direct the Consumer Product Safety Commission to create a safety standard for personalized handguns that all newly manufactured handguns must meet.
Fund the retrofitting of older guns through the Asset Forfeiture Fund at the Department of Justice (DOJ). Cash confiscated by the DOJ and proceeds from the sale of other confiscated property is deposited into the fund.
Hold gun manufacturers liable if they produce guns that do not meet the CPSC safety standard two years after the passage of the bill.
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