Since the Year 2000 more than 2 million Americans have been shot and half a million have died from gun violence; more than all US combat deaths combined since the end of the Civil War.
According to a recent article in Mother Jones Magazine, “Gun Violence Carries A Staggering Annual National Cost of $229 Billion…More Than The Cost of Cancer.”
Despite the tragic toll in lives lost and incredible cost, gun violence is our nation’s most neglected public health issue.
Despite the diligent efforts by various national gun safety groups, meaningful common sense gun safety legislation has been stalled for decades at both the federal and state level and the chances are slim for any near term progress.
New smart gun technology that can be operated only by the authorized user are about to enter the US market.
Technology that has the potential to reduce by 50% the almost 20,000 suicides each year by firearms…and virtually eliminate the 10,000 annual firearm injuries to our nation’s youth.
Technology … specifically child proof RFID smart guns that can only be fired by the authorized user represent perhaps our best hope to significantly reduce gun violence in the US.
- Smart guns could save many of the lives of of the approximately 10,000 victims of suicides with a third party firearm
- Smart guns could save many of the 19 child deaths under the age of 17 from gun violence
- And the crimes committed by the 250,000 stolen guns annually
- And deaths to police from gun grabs and women from domestic violence involving a firearm.
Smart guns could save as many as 10,000 lives annually
Smart gun technology is a proven and promising path to reducing gun violence that could save as many as 10,000 US lives annually. Supporters range from Alan Gottlieb founder of the Second Amendment Foundation to Dan Gross of the Brady Campaign. Two separate surveys including one of almost 4,000 adults by Johns Hopkins University showed that over two out of five gun owners would be interested in buying a smart gun.
RFID's proven reliability goes back over 30 years
The radio frequency identification (RFID) smart gun involves a “digital handshake” between the firearm and a computer chip worn on a ring or bracelet or even implanted in skin. RFID has proven its reliability over a thirty year period in billions of daily operations. Significantly the only commercially available was an RFID handgun developed by famed firearm developer Ernst Mauch. Mr. Mauch’s smart gun was successfully field tested in the cold of Northern Alaska, the humidity of Panama and the sand and heat of the Arizona tested. The smart gun worked but its marketing five years ago in the US was a disaster for reasons of price, timing and firearm caliber and a state law called the New Jersey Child Proof Smart Gun Mandate.
Poor reliability with a biometric smart gun has created concerns for all smart guns
A lot of money and effort over the past fifteen years has gone into biometric smart guns that are typically activated with a fingerprint. No one however has proven the necessary reliability with the biometric approach and its sensitivity to smudges from sweaty or muddy hands precludes its use by the strategically important law enforcement market. Indeed we believe the ongoing and at times high profile struggle with attaining sufficient reliability with the biometric approach has temporarily at least help to stall the entire smart gun mission.
The end of a well meaning state law that politicized smart guns over a decade ago
In 2003 New Jersey pushed through an aggressive law that mandated all firearms sold in that State would be smart guns after the technology was commercially available in the United States. The gun rights group not surprising didn’t like to be told that they could no longer buy their trusted Smith & Wesson and Glocks and pushed back hard. The result was that smart guns availability was stymied and not likely to come around again until the New Jersey Mandate is changed. An amendment to the NJ law was passed by both houses and there is optimism that this legal hurdle will be resolve by the first quarter of 2018 when Governor Christie leaves office.