90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Here and Now with Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Thursday, February 28, 2013

Could ‘Smart Guns’ Be Part Of Congress Deal?

Michael Recce, associate professor of information systems at New Jersey Institute of Technology and inventor of a "smart gun" technology holds a prototype of the gun with grip recognition technology, during a news conference in Newark, N.J., in January 2004. (Mike Derer/AP)

Michael Recce, associate professor of information systems at New Jersey Institute of Technology and inventor of a “smart gun” technology holds a prototype of the gun with grip recognition technology, during a news conference in Newark, N.J., in January 2004. (Mike Derer/AP)

“Smart guns,” or guns that will only fire for an authorized owner, are back on the radar.

The White House has called for pushing ahead with smart gun technology.

James Bond has one in the movie “Skyfall,” but in the real world, the technology is not quite there yet, according to smart gun activist and investor Jonas McCord.

McCord’s company Biomac Systems is working on smart gun technology, and he’s not alone.

New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey, right, points to the handle of a "smart gun" with grip recognition technology, held by the gun's inventor Michael Recce, associate professor of information systems at New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, N.J. in January 2004. (Mike Derer/AP)

New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey, right, points to the handle of a “smart gun” with grip recognition technology, held by the gun’s inventor Michael Recce, associate professor of information systems at New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, N.J. in January 2004. (Mike Derer/AP)

The New Jersey Institute of Technology has been working on a gun that will recognize the owner’s grip.

Trigger Smart, an Irish company, relies on radio frequency embedded in the gun and in a ring or bracelet the owner is wearing. Without the owner’s ring or bracelet, the gun will not fire.

Armatix GmbH, a German company, has a personalized gun it hopes to put on the market in the U.S. this year. The gun will only shoot if it’s in range of a radio device which carries the owner’s biometric data.

The Russian government is also supporting work on an gun with an electronic chip that would prevent unauthorized users from firing it.

McCord tells Here & Now’s Robin Young that the problems with smart guns include:

  1. Many of the technologies require that the owner always be wearing something to fire a gun – not very useful if you are trying to fight off a robber in the middle of the night.
  2. Most existing technologies are limited to one gun authorized for one owner, when most people want to be able to share guns with family members.
  3. The biometric data is usually “graphic” – palm prints, finger prints – and it can be slow to recognize the owner.
  4. Most of the technologies are only about 91 percent accurate.

The U.S. is at risk of being left behind in the arms race for smart guns, McCord said.

He’s calling for a federal Technology Waiting Law like the one New Jersey already has. It would require that once reliable smart gun technology exists, all guns should be required to have the technology.

McCord believes that would provide a financial incentive for industry to develop recognition technologies that would be 99.99 percent accurate, and also be useful for normal commercial transactions.

Would you support requiring all guns sold to be “smart guns,” once the technology becomes widely available? Let us know on Facebook.

Guest:


Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Spotlight

Here & Now resident chef and cookbook author Kathy Gunst shares her list of the best cookbooks of the year.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

December 18 Comment

College Counselor: ‘A Deferral Is Not A Denial’

Lisa Micele shares tips for applying to college — especially for students who have been deferred under early decision.

December 18 15 Comments

America’s Political Dynasties

Americans under 38 have only experienced one presidential election that did not involve a Bush or a Clinton.

December 17 2 Comments

Atticus Lish’s ‘Preparation For The Next Life’

The author's debut novel centers on an unlikely romance between an Iraq veteran and a Uyghur from China.

December 17 3 Comments

Diagnosing Ear Infections With Your Smartphone

The CellScope Oto is a clip-on gadget that turns a smartphone into an otoscope — the tool doctors use to check out a patient's eardrum.