It might sound great on paper, but is Smart Gun technology likely to be adopted by America’s gun owners?
The Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is one that has been fought over and debated about for decades. It only makes sense that any change in the world of firearms will be approached with a healthy dose of skepticism, a bit of trepidation, and a sense of “what’s really behind the change?” When it comes to gun safety technology and saving lives, some industry leaders feel that “smart” guns are the future, while others see it as one step closer to total governmental control. Let’s uncover some of the motivation and nuances behind smart gun technology and the development of modern firearms.
What Is Smart Gun Technology?
A smart gun is a firearm that has been outfitted with a safety feature or multiple safeguards that help prevent unauthorized use. These gun safety technology features are generally built into the gun, though some can be added on to existing firearms to effectively convert them to smart guns. Examples of these features are:
- Guns with fingerprint safety sensors that can be programmed to only allow the gun to fire when an authorized fingerprint is detected.
- A RFID transmitter built into the gun that prevents the weapon from firing unless the shooter is wearing a specially-linked “watch” or wristband.
- Proximity sensors that can disable a gun when the weapon is brought within range of certain areas, like police stations or schools.
Why Is Smart Gun Technology Being Debated?
Smart gun advocates claim that the benefits may be huge for these modern firearms - including far fewer accidental deaths involving children, fewer school shootings, a lowered rate of suicide using someone else’s gun, and fewer police officers being killed with their own guns. Supporters of smart gun technology claim that these new guns will be the iPhone in the shooting sports world while indicating that companies that don’t get on board with this new technology may likely go the way of the Blackberry.
How Do Current Gun Owners Feel About Smart Guns?
Although there have been surveys and feedback regarding this new smart gun technology, it’s impossible to unlock all the disparate viewpoints regarding smart guns and gun owners, but indications are that gun owners feel:
- It is a step toward more governmental control, including such far-reaching ideas like a government being able to electronically disable private citizen’s weapons whenever they want to.
- Modern firearms are too expensive. Current smart guns on the market today (they represent a small fraction of the $14 billion U.S. firearms market) cost anywhere from $1,399 to $1,999, and often require the purchase of a watch of wristband to complete the smart gun technology system. Compare that to a standard Glock 9mm, which can be purchased for under $600.
- Reliability is a concern. Gun owners, especially those who carry a weapon for self-defense purposes, don’t want to have to worry about the condition of a battery or the reliability of an electronic circuit board when their life is on the line.
Interestingly, there seems to be slightly higher support for smart guns from the Northeastern states, though the parameters of the studies used to conclude this fact are questionable. When a survey uses the term “smart gun” versus “childproof gun,” the support is lower for the new technology. Across the nation, 50% of the guns are owned by 3% of the population, and this 3% group seems less willing to accept smart gun technology. The extent to which the new technology will save lives is debatable, too, as the 300 million guns that are in use in the U.S. today will likely never see a retrofit.
In summary, there is no replacement for good common sense, quality training, and a reliable locking system. It will be interesting to see how the average American’s tastes around guns evolve in the future - for now, smart guns are likely to stay on the fringe for quite some time. For those ready for their next firearms experience, schedule your time at Range 702 today.