Would you Keep a Smart Firearm in Your House?

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smart firearm
Kai Kloepfer | Daniel Borris Nytimes.com

An MIT freshman created a ‘smart gun’ that will only fire for a designated user. The concept faces strong criticism, but we will most likely see this sort of development as the gun control movement continues to evolve.

Gun violence in the U.S. is bad enough without accidental casualties. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, the majority of gun-related deaths in the U.S. are attributed to homicide. Yet, a shocking number of those deaths weren’t homicide. Could a Smart firearm be a better solution to home defense?

Thankfully, the number of accidental gun deaths is relatively small. In 2010, unintentional firearm discharges killed 606 people. From 2005-2010, almost 3,800 were killed. Compared to the 11,078 homicides and 19,392 suicides in 2010, unintentional gun deaths are a drop in the bucket. That being said, 606 deaths could have been avoided.

Gun safes, trigger locks, and gun safety courses are aids to reducing accidental deaths, but with millions of gun owners in the U.S., those measures don’t remove the possibility. MIT freshman Kai Kloepfer thinks that he may have the answer to the problem, however, with the use of his smart gun invention.

#MIT freshman #KaiKloepfer invented a sensor equipped #smartgun.Click To Tweet

What is a Smart gun?

A smart gun is a weapon that will only fire for a designated user. If anyone other than the user picks up the gun, they might as well throw it at their target.

Smart guns need an identifier to operate, and in Kai’s case, the gun incorporates a sensor that can recognize fingerprints. The result is a weapon that locks and unlocks like modern smartphones but also needs to charge its battery to function. Putting a fingerprint sensor on a gun is no easy task.

It took Kai four and a half years to make his Smart firearm, and he is the first person to make a working prototype.

“If anyone other than the user picks up the gun, they might as well throw it at their target.”

Previous entries into the smart weapon market either failed miserably or were stopped during production by massive boycotts.

If you find yourself wondering why people would boycott a company for trying to make a ‘safer’ line of guns, know that the issue isn’t black and white. There are many pros and cons to the idea, and for some, the cons are unacceptable.

Pros and Cons of the Smart Firearm

There are many benefits for the use of smart weapons, but the technology that enables them has limits.

Pros:

  • Only designating users can use the gun.
  • Enemies won’t be able to use the weapon against you.
  • Children will not be able to use the Smart firearm.

Cons:

  • Kloepfer’s Smart firearm does not work 100% of the time.
  • If the battery is too low, the firearm will not work.
  • Biometrics can be forged.

Invested in the Smart Firearm

It’s the kind of idea that has been in fiction for years, from James Bond to Judge Dredd.

Kloepfer has plenty of investors, such as Ron Conway, who calls him “The Mark Zuckerberg of guns.” He’s a star in the gun world, but like any star, he has negative critics. According to Stephen Sanetti, president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, “Good intentions don’t necessarily make good inventions.”

Big gun lobbies echo Sanetti’s statement more so than Conway’s. Pro-firearm lobbyists like the NRA have proven to been effective in affecting policy.

For now, Kloepfer’s gun has investors and an inventor that is working hard to make his vision a reality. Kloepfer thinks that an ultra-fast, reliable smart gun is just around the corner, and for anyone who owns firearms in the same place that they house their families, that might be exactly what they are looking for.

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