Smart Guns Exist; Why Aren’t They On The Market?

Smart Guns Exist; Why Aren’t They On The Market?

Photo by Biofire Technologies/PBS NewsHour Kai Kloepfer began designing his first smart gun for a high school science fair project. Now, six years later, that project has evolved into the startup Biofire Technologies, which is poised to put its first smart gun on the market. As a high school science fair project, Kai Kloepfer developed a handgun that can only be activated by its owner’s fingerprints. He was 15 at the time. His goal was to reduce deaths by creating a gun that won’t function in the hands of toddlers, suicidal teens, or anyone without permission to use it. Now, six years later, that project has evolved into the startup Biofire Technologies , which is poised to put its first smart gun on the market. The startup is part of a small but motivated group of companies that are racing to launch the country’s first smart gun. There’s a problem though: even if the gun is developed, gun shops aren’t likely to sell it. This is due to a combination of factors, namely a New Jersey law requiring that any handgun sold in the state must be a smart gun, as soon as smart guns are commercially available in the country. It’s not a question of demand. In 2016, a Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research study found that 59 percent of Americans in the market for a handgun were willing to buy a smart gun. Stephen Teret, public health researcher and co-author on the study, sees […]

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Smart guns exist. Why aren’t they on the market?

Smart guns exist. Why aren’t they on the market?

As a high school science fair project, Kai Kloepfer developed a handgun that can only be activated by its owner’s fingerprints. He was 15 at the time. His goal was to reduce deaths by creating a gun that won’t function in the hands of toddlers, suicidal teens, or anyone without permission to use it. Now, six years later, that project has evolved into the startup Biofire Technologies , which is poised to put its first smart gun on the market. The startup is part of a small but motivated group of companies that are racing to launch the country’s first smart gun. There’s a problem though: even if the gun is developed, gun shops aren’t likely to sell it. This is due to a combination of factors, namely a New Jersey law requiring that any handgun sold in the state must be a smart gun, as soon as smart guns are commercially available in the country. It’s not a question of demand. In 2016, a Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research study found that 59 percent of Americans in the market for a handgun were willing to buy a smart gun. Stephen Teret, public health researcher and co-author on the study, sees in smart guns a possibility for reducing gun deaths. “I feel a high level of certainty that there will be a substantial number of lives saved,” he said. His colleague at the center, Daniel Webster, questions whether smart technology will reduce gun deaths. The study, […]

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