US President Barack Obama has ordered the departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security to explore smart gun technology to aid efforts to reduce gun violence.
Smart guns can be operated only by users authenticated by the owner. They use fingerprint and radio-frequency identification (RFID) to enable firing. Obama’s idea is to usher in this technology to help track lost and stolen weapons and prevent accidental and unauthorized use.
The memo follows a grisly incident in San Bernardino, California, where a radical Islamic couple shot and killed 14 people last December. Obama hinted during his weekly address on New Year’s Day that he would bring in new measures to curb gun violence.
In addition to preventing accidental fire, Obama hopes that his directive will encourage gun makers to market safer firearms. Companies like iGUN are already working on secure weapon technology and are expected to become available in the near future.
The president also mentioned a 2013 Department of Justice report, which showed that use of smart gun tech could help reduce accidental deaths and the use of stolen guns in criminal activities.
Gun rights groups are concerned that such technologies may help the government track firearms and could lead to a ban on weapons.
That doesn’t seem likely — it’s estimated that there are more than 300 million guns owned by civilians in the US. Between the difficulty of putting the toothpaste back in the tube and fighting the strong gun lobby in the country, the government will have to fight long and hard if it wants to curtail the use of weapons in the US.
In his memo to the departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security, Obama ordered these agencies to prepare a report outlining a research-and-development strategy designed to expedite the real-world deployment of such technology for use in practice, within 90 days.
➤ What the President is Doing to Keep Guns Out of the Wrong Hands [The White House Blog via CNET]