The term smart gun refers to a new technology that was developed in this field. The smart gun technology was conceived to offer more safety, considering the number of deadly shootings that take place often in different countries around the world. Today we will explain in detail what is a smart gun, how does it work, who is manufacturing them, as well as have a look at pros and cons.
What Is a Smart Gun?
The smart gun technology consists in a firearm that can only be used by a certain person. It relies on safety features that have the purpose of authorizing only one person to use it. The whole concept was developed with the purpose of preventing accidental shootings, misuse, gun thefts or the use of the weapon against its owner.
How Does It Work?
Smart guns use various techniques to distinguish between one person or the other. For this, they use fingerprint recognition, magnetic rings, RFID chips or proximity tokens and even mechanical locks. They mostly rely on biometric safety measures. Besides the smart guns, there are also some other smart firearms safety devices, such as accessories (even smart bullets) and safes that also rely on biometric or RFID technology.
What Is RFID?
RFID comes from radio-frequency identification. It is a technology that relies on electromagnetic fields for identifying automatically and tracking tags that are attached to objects. The special tags contain information stored electronically.
The passive tags gather up energy from a RFID reader found nearby. They do so by checking the radio waves of the reader. Meanwhile, active tags need a local power source, like a battery. Moreover, the latter can operate even if they are hundreds of meters away from the RFID reader. As opposed to a barcode, for example, the tag doesn’t have to be visible to the reader, so it can simply be integrated into the object that is tracked.
These RFID tags are used for many purposes, such as the automobile industry. The special tags are attached to the automobiles in the production phase so that the employees can track the progress up until the assembly line. People also use it to tag pharmaceuticals, livestock, and pets etc.
At the moment, there are plenty of manufacturers involved in this new industry. Here you have a brief list of them:
- Kai Kloepfer/ Biofire Technologies;
- iGun Technology Corp.;
- Safe Gun Technology Co.;
- New Jersey Institute of Technology;
- Metal Storm;
- Smart Tech Challenges Foundation;
One of the most interesting examples of smart guns is the Armatix iP1. This is a semi-automatic pistol chambered for the .22 Long Rifle rimfire cartridge. The German company who manufactures it presents it as a handgun in a James Bond style. Being a smart gun, only an authorized user can fire it.
The iP1 model weighs 518 grams when you don’t load it. The gun box is a 10-round detachable one, while the firing range is 75 yards (69 meters). Among other features of the handgun we can count color coded safety, magazine disconnect, additional apps (camera).
What is special about this model is that it relies on a special W1 Active RFID watch. Together, they form a complete system that offers more safety both for the owner and for other people. The two components communicate through RFID, and the watch serves as confirmation that the person wearing it is the owner.
The watch shows the charge level of both components, as well as how many shots the owner fired at a certain moment. Moreover, with the help of a time-control feature, it can deactivate the firearm.
Smart Gun Technology Reception
The smart guns have received quite some criticism from various groups, such as the NRA or the Violence Policy Center. NRA’s problem seems to be a possible law that would not let Americans get any firearm without the smart gun technology.
From what it seems, the authorities manifested interest in testing out the technology for their officers. This would represent an extra safety measure for the police officers and not only. However, the issue here is that nobody tested the technology enough until now, so many people are reluctant to use it. As such, is a biometric gun safe? Theoretically, yes, but scientists must test its reliability further on.
Pros and Cons
Smart Gun Technology Pros
- Preventing Accidents
This new technology makes it possible to prevent deadly accidents. There have been many cases of firearms misuse by teens and children with tragical consequences. Such a technology can contribute to reducing incidents of suicide made by other people than the owner of the firearm. Moreover, it will protect the owner if someone steals the gun since the criminals can’t use it against them.
- Protecting Officers
Just as described above, one major advantage of the smart gun technology is the fact that it can protect police officers. The main idea is that it reduces the risk of a criminal taking the law enforcement officer’s weapon and using them against the officers.
Smart Gun Technology Cons
- Biometrics Reliability
Some say that biometrics are not the most reliable technology in the world. Often, this kind of data takes some time to process and it can prove to be inaccurate. Moreover, these smart guns offer the possibility of hacking them or tracking with the help of the government.
- Not Good for Self-Defense
Even though this is the main purpose of the smart gun technology, this type of firearms may prove to be inefficient in the case of self-defense. The battery can be dead, conditions such as moisture or temperature can affect the electronic components, etc. Moreover, it can take quite a while to get the gun ready to shoot, which might endanger the owner’s life in a dangerous situation.
The smart gun technology is quite a recent entry on the market. The concept behind it is innovative, aimed at ensuring safety for both armed and unarmed people. However, being such a recent development, it can imply risks that even scientists are not aware of. For this reason, some people claim we should not be using them at all, while others think researchers should investigate the technology more.
Image source: 1