Emerging Technology

Agencies unveil plan to encourage development of smart gun technology

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The departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Justice released a report on April 29 outlining a strategy for promoting smart gun technology to reduce gun violence.

The strategy document, a response to President Barack Obama's January memo on the topic, seeks to use law enforcement agencies as a way to spur interest in and development of advanced safety technology.

"Over the next six months, the administration will partner with state, county and municipal law enforcement agencies to establish the specific conditions under which they would consider purchasing firearms with advanced gun safety technology," the report states.

There are two basic types of smart gun technologies. One keeps a gun from being fired by anyone other than the weapon's authorized user. The other embeds a small chip into guns to make it easier to track stolen weapons.

The government's goal is to encourage gun manufacturers to find new ways to integrate the technology into their devices while ensuring the firearms maintain their dependability.

Although the report notes that "user-authorization technology will not necessarily eliminate all unauthorized use of firearms, nor is this technology the only solution to accidental and improper firearm use," developing baseline specifications would help law enforcement agencies and gun manufacturers determine what additional research and development are necessary.

Justice and DHS officials plan to convene an interagency working group that will prepare draft specifications for review by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. Based on that feedback, the group will prepare a final version of baseline specifications by Oct. 15, according to the report.

At that time, "participating law enforcement agencies will be invited to make voluntary commitments regarding the development and procurement of this technology," the report states.  It also notes that certain federal grants can be used toward the purchase of the new firearms.

In related news, the Social Security Administration is publishing a proposed rule to ensure that SSA records on anyone who should be prohibited from buying a gun are transmitted to the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System. 

About the Author

Aisha Chowdhry is a former staff writer for FCW.


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