A personalized gun, or smart gun, is a concept gun that aims to reduce the misuse of guns through the use of RFID chips or other proximity devices, fingerprint recognition, or magnetic rings. Only magnetic devices are readily available.
- 1 Advantages
- 2 Criticism
- 3 Magnetic devices
- 4 Prototypes
- 5 Technology Waiting Legislation
- 6 In popular culture
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Proponents of smart gun technology say that smart gun technology would reduce or eliminate accidental use and misuse of guns by children and teens, as well as reducing accidental discharges or the use of a gun against the owner if it is stolen or taken away.
Smart guns have been criticized by gun-rights groups like the NRA as well as by gun-control groups like the Violence Policy Center. Gun-rights groups generally feel that smart gun technology is an attempt to control citizen ownership of guns. The Violence Policy Center feels smart guns will make gun ownership more commonplace by making guns seem safer.
Some smart gun technology uses a Verichip which is permanently embedded under the user's skin in order to activate the gun (and to prevent unauthorized users from stealing or duplicating a non-implanted ring or bracelet activator). Verichip has been strongly criticized by privacy advocates.
Many gun enthusiasts object to smart guns on a philosophical/regulatory basis as well as a technological basis. Gun ownership advocate Boston T. Party, writing about smart guns on page 35/24 of Boston's Gun Bible, says "No defensive firearm should ever rely upon any technology more advanced than Newtonian physics. That includes batteries, radio links, encryption, scanning devices and microcomputers. Even if a particular system could be 99.9% reliable, that means it is expected to fail once every 1000 operations. That is not reliable enough. My life deserves more certainty."
At least one major seller of smart gun technology admits potential fallibility of the technology. IGun Technology Corporation say on their website that "No mechanical or electrical device is capable of 100% reliability....Personalized guns offer advantages to some people and disadvantages to others."
The Magna-Trigger system for K- through N-frame size Smith and Wesson revolvers prevents the trigger from coming back far enough to fire. It was developed by Joe Davis in 1975, and has proven reliable. This system will work ambidextrously, provided the magnetic rings used are worn on both hands.
The Magloc conversion kit for 1911A1 pistols works by stopping the gun from firing unless a magnetic ring worn by the user repels the magnetic blocking device installed inside the grip. Once the system is activated using the matching magnetic ring, the owner can switch the over-ride switch to the on position and allow anyone to fire the pistol.
In 1999, Mossberg Shotguns, through its subsidiary Advanced Ordnance and an electronics design contractor KinTech Manufacturing developed a “Smart” shotgun using RFID technology. This product is currently being marketed by IGun Technology Corp. The advantage with this design was that the ring worn by the owner and used to identify the owner has a passive tag (meaning no batteries) that relies on proximity to the gun for power. The battery pack in the gun is designed to last up to 10 years when not used or up to 8 hours of continual usage (meaning always ready to be fired). The gun has low-battery indication.
New Jersey Institute of Technology
A current prototype personalized gun relies on biometric sensors in the grip and trigger that can track a gun owner’s hand size, strength, and Dynamic grip style also known as (DGR) Dynamic Grip Recognition. The gun is programmed to recognize only the owner or anyone whom the owner wishes to authorize. One of the major projects involves the New Jersey Institute of Technology team, which claims the prototype identifies gun owners with 90% accuracy.
Initial prototypes produced by Colt's Manufacturing Company involved the intended user wearing a bracelet that emitted a radio signal that would activate a mechanism inside the pistol to allow the gun to be fired. The project was apparently scrapped over concerns of the batteries in the bracelet and the pistol failing.
The Irish company TriggerSmart (www.triggersmart.com)has patented and achieved a working prototype of a personalized gun in 2012 that works using radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology. TriggerSmart co-owner Robert McNamara has spoken with the Attorney General, Eric Holder, at the White House and met with and discussed smart guns with the United Nations in Berlin and New York. The NIJ featured TriggerSmart when it issued its report on Smart Guns in 2013. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/242500.pdf 
A U.S. and Austrian company whose system employs a biometric array of up to eight optical sensors which will be molded into the handle of the weapon. None of the optical sensors will rely on on geographic parameters, like fingerprints, but will measure biometric data below the skin. The biometric access technology which will be developed by BIOMAC BIOMAC will allow authorized gun owners to program the biometrics of up to eleven additional users into their weapon. All previous systems having been developed or which are being considered rely on one user per weapon. The biometric data programed into the weapon will be done at authorized weapon dealers, and will remain in the weapon. BIOMAC's goal of a 99.99 percent reliability rate with recognition occurring in .5 seconds or less, if reached, will be the fastest and most reliable smart gun technology on the market. BIOMAC envisions licensing all weapon companies their technology for a nominal cost. The retrofitting of existing weapons with BIOMAC's patent-pending technology will be done through the Biomac Foundation Biomac Foundation, with all profits from the retrofitting going to victims of global violence. For military and police use the biometrics of soldiers and/or law enforcement will be printed on a wearable device, like a wrist band, which once worn will allow the soldier and/or any other police officer wearing the biometric wrist band to pick up any biometric weapon programed for their organization. The wrist bands will not be usable by anyone other than the people they have been programed for. In this manner every soldier will be able to use any military weapon they may need to fire, and not have to have their individual biometrics programmed into the weapon.
A German company, Armatix, has developed a pistol that uses radio frequencies to identify the user.
In autumn 2012 a new method was presented by its inventor. Starting with the simple question "Where does a weapon belong?" he concluded: In its owner's hand or in its owner's holster, and nowhere else! Using this logic, he recognized, a huge variety of solutions are possible, even those only by means of traditional, simple, and proven mechanics as it is installed by default in any weapon, and a safety lock. The new principle is: The weapon is unlocked by a release member (key, RFID, barcode, etc.) and the active state is maintained by a grip sensor (mechanical lever, any electronic sensor such as e.g. ultrasound). In example with a holster: If the weapon is pulled out of the holster, it is always activated automatically as long as its owner constantly holds it in his hand. The moment the owner lays the weapon aside or it is knocked out of his hand, a security automatically clicks into place which not only makes it impossible for any more shots to be fired, but it also prevents the disassembling of the weapon in order to remove the blocking device. A new activation is only possible by means of a release member in the own holster, by putting the weapon in it and taking it out once more if necessary. Electronic designs can use an electronic key like an NFC-chip which is mounted in a holster or in a watch or somewhere else on the body.
Sandy Hook Promise, a group of parents of the Sandy Hook massacre, have launched an Innovation Initiative with members of the Silicon Valley technology community. This initiative will advocate for providing breakthroughs in new gun technology by providing grant and prize moneys.
The smart gun is supposed to:
- Reduce the likelihood of unintentional injuries to children
- Preventing teenage suicides and homicides.
- Limit the violent acts committed by criminals using stolen guns.
- Protect law enforcement officers from criminals grabbing their firearms during a struggle.
If chip failure occurs one of two things can happen:
- For civilian use, the gun will be set to not fire.
- For law enforcement use, the safety system will be bypassed, and the gun will be allowed to fire.
Technology Waiting Legislation
New Jersey: On May 18, 2000, the Republican-led NJ State Senate overwhelmingly passed what was called, “The Childproof Handgun Bill.” The bill was sponsored by Ceasefire, NJ in 1998. But finally gained traction when the New Jersey Million Mom March (www.millionmommarch.org) made this bill its top legislative priority in the fall of 1999. It would take another two years for the NJ State Assembly to pass it before it was signed into law in December 2002. The newly enacted law meant that New Jersey became the first state to enact smart gun legislation. The “smart gun" legislation that would eventually require new handguns to contain a mechanism that allows only their owners to fire them. The law will not go into effect immediately because the technology is still under development and it could be years before it becomes a reality. But supporters, including the New Jersey Million Mom March, hailed it as an important milestone in the campaign to reduce handgun deaths. Under the New Jersey law, the technology will be required in all new handguns sold three years after the state attorney general determines a smart gun prototype is safe and commercially available. Weapons used by law enforcement officers would be exempt.
Technology waiting legislation is intended to stimulate research and development into technology that is needed or would be beneficial to the public and or their welfare.
California: In 2008 technology waiting legislation was proposed and supported by the Million Mom March chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence Brady Campaign . Though the legislation did not pass for lack of a working model that would meet the standards set in the bill for acceptance, it became the model that would inspire the German legislature to pass the most stringent smart gun technology waiting legislation in Europe.
In 2009, the German legislature passed a technology waiting law that would eventually require all German manufacturers of weapons to only make smart weapons, once an acceptable technology existed anywhere in the world. In addition, the German law would require the retrofitting of all existing German weapons with smart gun technology. Should other European countries follow suit with similar legislation, some of the world's most advanced weaponry will be required to incorporate smart gun technology.
Also in Europe the way towards a personalization of firearms seems to be taken. In October 2013 the European Commission published a document by commissioner Cecilia Malmström, in article 4.2 comprising: "The Commission will work with the firearms industry to explore technological solutions, such as biometric sensors where personal data is stored in the firearm, for ensuring that purchased firearms may only be used by their legal owner. It will carry out a detailed cost-benefit analysis on the question of making such 'smart gun' security features mandatory for firearms lawfully sold in the EU."
In popular culture
The 1973 movie Westworld contains guns that can be fired against humanoid robots, but use computer sensors to keep from firing against actual humans. "The guns issued to the guests also have temperature sensors that prevent them from shooting each other or anything else living but allow them to 'kill' the room-temperature androids." When the robots rebel, they override the restrictions, and begin shooting human beings with the guns.
In the videogame series Metal Gear Solid, there are nanomite computers in a person's bloodstream which have an inprint of who the person is. There are guns in this game that are locked to a certain person's nanomite information, being able to lock out someone from being able to use a weapon that is unlocked to a certain person's nanomites (for gameplay reasons, this is to explain why the player must procure their own weapons rather than salvaging them from fallen enemies).
In the movie Aliens smart guns are used by the Colonial Marines in the form of light support weapons and sentry guns. The characters Vasquez and Drake use hand held versions to great effect against their extraterrestrial adversaries. The guns are too heavy for an average soldier to carry effectively as a stand-alone system, so instead, specialized mechanical harnesses are utilized. The harnesses and guns can be controlled and aimed manually by the operator or the harnesses and gun can function automatically with the operators consent; targeting and shooting by itself. The sentry guns employ oscillating, multi-light spectrum sensors to acquire approaching targets automatically. Upon obtaining a target the gun uses set instructions, pre-selected by the operator, in order to engage. It has the ability to interrogate the target beforehand or has the option to open fire immediately, fire fully automatic or in short bursts, and has the ability to shoot targets from closest to farthest or in the order in which they are sighted.
In the movie Skyfall, James Bond is supplied a modified Walther PPK by Q, which has a biometric palmprint scanner on the pistol grip, which reads Bond's fingerprints and only allows him to use the gun. This concept originated in Licence to Kill, where Q provides Bond a bulkier rifle (disguised as a camera) with the same technology. In both movies, the feature comes to save Bond's life as an enemy henchman attempts to use his gun on him, only to be locked out by the biometric scanner.
- "Violence Policy Center – SmartGun". Retrieved October 12, 2011.
- Steve Friess. "NRA: Smart Guns Are Plain Stupid". Wired.com. Retrieved 2012-08-04.
- "The False Hope of the "Smart" Gun". Vpc.org. 1996-06-12. Retrieved 2012-08-04.
- "No Chip in Arm, No Shot From Gun". Wired.com. Retrieved 2012-08-04.
- "Safety Concerns". Iguntech.com. Retrieved 2012-08-04.
- Massad Ayoob, "State of the SMART GUN", Guns Magazine
- "Selling Safety Priority #1". Shooting Industry. 2000.
- "Magloc Smart Gun Conversion System from SMART LOCK TECHNOLOGY INC". Officer.com. 2007-08-20. Retrieved 2012-08-04.
- Gerald Würkner: Würkner-Personal-Weapon-Lock, Webpage of the Inventor, 20. September 2012
- Pearce, Jeremy (1/12/03). "Smart Guns, A Clever Bit of Legislating". New York Times. Retrieved 1/12/03.
- European Commission: Firearms and the internal security of the EU: protecting citizens and disrupting illegal trafficking, published October 10, 2013