‘Smart guns’ promise to keep guns out of the wrong hands

U.S. and World

DALLAS (NewsNation Now) — After two decades of reliability questions and concerns, personalized smart guns could finally be hitting the U.S. market soon. Smart guns use technology that only allows them to be fired by an authorized user. While some experts say this could be the future of firearm safety, others worry it’s not practical.

Gun company LodeStar Works is in the process of working on a prototype for these types of guns. LoneStar co-founder Gareth Glaser said he was inspired after hearing one too many stories about children shot while playing with an unattended gun.

“I’d seen the abject failure of every policy to try and do something about gun safety,” Glaser said. “Lobbying, regulations and lawsuits and it all goes nowhere. Not one life is saved.”

Advocates for smart guns say they could help decrease the number of suicide, crime and accidental deaths.

There are only three ways the gun would work for its owner: fingerprint recognition, smartphone pairing or a keypad. The user can program it however they’d like.

LodeStar Works co-founder Ginger Chandler told NewsNation’s Markie Martin that she believes now is the time to bring smart guns to the market because consumers are more comfortable with smart devices and technology has gotten better. 

“I mean, my coffee pot is smarter than my firearm,” Chandler said.

But just like with any gun, Chandler pointed out there are some risks.

“I mean, just like a mechanical firearm — if it doesn’t go off when you want it to, you could under stress be hurt,” she said. “And just like the mechanical firearm goes through all the reliability (checks) to make sure it’s gonna work, we’re putting this gun through that same set of reliability tests.”

The new technology is being met with some skepticism, especially from gun shop owners. 

“Every gun on the planet is basically held together with pins and screws and springs,” said Ro Carter, owner of Mister Guns in Dallas. “It’s physical. if you put a break into that that requires some sort of electronic impetus and the battery’s dead, for example, yeah, that’s probably the primary concern.”

This kind of product has been promised for years and it has the potential for a big industry shakeup, particularly in the states with tighter gun laws that might only support smart guns. 

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the firearms industry trade association, says it does not oppose smart guns as long as the government doesn’t mandate their sale. But Lawrence Keane, senior vice president of the NSSF, said he is reluctant to see this happen.

“If I had a nickel for every time in my career I heard somebody say, ‘We’re about to bring a so-called smart gun on the market,’ I’d probably be retired now,” he said. “We’ve heard this many, many times. I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Lodestar isn’t the only company working on a smart gun. A Kansas company, SmartGunz LLC, says law enforcement agents are beta testing its product, a similar but simpler model. Colorado-based Biofire is also developing a smart gun with a fingerprint reader.

The LodeStar gun, aimed at first-time buyers, would retail for around $900.

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