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Some recipients of a high-profile contest for "smart gun" designs are refusing to allow themselves to be announced publicly, The Verge has learned, for fear of a backlash from gun rights activists.
A smart gun is a computer-enhanced weapon that authenticates users before allowing them to shoot. Smart guns may rely on biometric data such as a fingerprint, voice print, or the unique way the user grips the gun. They can also require a password or the proximity of another device, such as a wristband.
Proponents say implementing this technology will decrease gun violence, especially of the type that involves children getting ahold of their parents' guns.
The Foundation received more than 200 applications, and by June it had selected 15 winners. But so far, only one winner has been announced: 17-year-old Kai Kloepfer, who designed a fingerprint scanner that fits on the handle of a gun and requires user authentication in order to fire. Kloepfer was awarded $50,000, which was announced yesterday.
More winners will be announced, the Foundation says, but some have asked that their names be withheld because of the controversy surrounding the issue.
"All the grantees have been selected, but as you can imagine they are at varying degrees of comfort with public exposure," a representative for the Smart Tech Foundation told The Verge. "Some have asked to remain almost anonymous because of the negative backlash they may face. So we will be announcing grantees on a rolling basis in an effort to protect some innovators and highlight others."
Back in May, a Maryland gun store announced it would begin stocking the Armatix iP1, which only fires if it’s within 10 inches of its companion iW1 watch (presumably on the owner’s wrist). It can also be disabled with a timer or a PIN code.
The backlash was immediate. The owner received a flood of complaints, angry rants, calls to boycott his shop, and even two death threats. Within 24 hours, he announced that the shop would no longer stock the smart gun.
Gun lovers are afraid the government will require guns to have this kind of technology, which they feel would encroach on their rights. Smart guns introduce an element that could fail when you need it most, opponents say, and they may encourage states to collect biometric data on all gun owners. "Gun enthusiasts would resist this technology until it was cold dead hand gun prying time," writes the blog The Truth About Guns.
A gun that fires only in the hands of its owner isn't science fiction anymore. A so-called smart gun is already on sale in Europe. But you won't find it on store shelves in this country — in part because of an obscure New Jersey law that's had unintended consequences for the rest of the nation.
Basically, the Childproof Handgun Law of 2002 says that once "personalized handguns are available" anywhere in the country, all handguns sold in New Jersey must be smart guns within 30 months.
New Jersey Law That's Kept Smart Guns Off Shelves Nationwide
originally posted by: Fylgje
Yeah...no thanks! Guns work fine just the way they are. I don't like the idea of it all being governed by electronics because someone could manipulate it and cause you serious problems. But these anti-gun nuts will keep trying, I guess......
Personally, I don't see why this technology can't co-exist along with models we have had, some for centuries now.