Smart phones have revolutionized the way we communicate, and now comes what some call smart guns.
They are weapons that are personalized, so only verified users can fire them.
The companies making smart guns said they will prevent many deaths and injuries from accidental shootings. Reporter Tom Regan with our sister station WSB-TV in Atlanta, got a first-hand look at how they work.
He said it looks like a standard 9MM handgun and it fires like one too. But the gun is programmed through a smart phone and can only be fired by someone verified to use it.
Ginger Chandler, Lodestar Chief Technical Officer and Co-Founder said, “So many people buy a firearm and then buy a safe to put the firearm in. This puts the safe in our firearm.”
Chandler gave a demonstration of what tis called a personally authenticated firearm. “You can authenticate it in three different ways. You can use an app on the phone via Bluetooth, you could do a PIN pad on the front of the grip that unlocked or locks it. Or you can use a fingerprint,” Chandler said.
The gun stores a thumb or fingerprint image scanned on a biometric panel near the trigger. Once stored, a matching print unlocks the gun in an instant.
Rob Regent with Lodestar said, “It’s like a key to a door basically. You know if you put the wrong key in the door, and it’s not your fingerprint. It’s not going to unlock the gun.”
And more than one person can be verified to use it. “The biometrics allows us to store 10 fingerprints,” Chandler said.
Regan asked Chandler, “Is this weapon going to save lives?” Chandler responded, “Oh absolutely this weapon is going to save lives,”
According to the National Safety Council, preventable or accidental gunfire kills over 500 people in the U.S. each year. Sadly, last year 154 involved children.
Lodestar CEO/Co-Founder Gareth Glaser said, “I did have some experience on my own with colleagues whose children had been shot unintentionally.”
Glaser said tragic stories of children killed while playing with a gun inspired him to develop weapon authentication technology. He said smart guns will not only reduce unintentional child shootings, but suicides as well.
“A large number are committed using someone else’s firearm,” Glaser said. He continued, “So that is easily preventable using our firearm,”
At the firing range, Regan got a change to test the smart gun. Once activated, he fired multiple rounds in succession with wase. Past efforts to develop smart guns have failed but Glaser said the technology wasn’t up to speed.
“We will prove to the market that we will produce the first really innovated, reliable, cool technological advanced firearm,” Glaser said.
While the technology holds the promise of reducing accidental and crime-related shootings, some gun rights organizations are not ready to endorse.
Jerry Henry with Georgia Carry said, “It’s going to be powered by a chip and a battery. Batteries go, fail all the time,”
Henry said smart guns may not be so smart when it comes to reliable self-defense.
“I don’t like that you have to go through any other mechanism other than pointing and pulling the trigger,” Henry said.
The National Rifle Association said it doesn’t oppose the development or sale of smart guns, but added, “The NRA does oppose laws that seek to mandate American to exclusively acquire or possess only so-called smart guns,”
Glaser agrees with that. “In terms of mandates, we are against them.”
Lodestar hopes to begin selling smart guns next year. They’ll cost about $850, more than a traditional gun, but you won’t need to buy a safe.