Saturday, December 15, 2012

Could 'smart guns' have prevented the Sandy Hook massacre?

As more information about Friday's horrific shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School emerge, the question we've heard on multiple talk radio shows has been this: why isn't there some sort of electronic device that can prevent anyone but the gun's owner from using a gun?

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In the Newtown, Conn. shootings, Adam Lanza, 20, killed his mother Nancy Lanza, 52, then took some of her guns and used them to kill 20 K-4 children and six adults -- plus himself. It was also reported that he was unable to buy a rifle earlier in the week, because

Could some sort of smart gun technology have prevented this? To be honest, perhaps not entirely, but it could have prevented Lanza from using his mother's guns.

Smart gun technology is possible. Not only is there a Wikipedia article on the technology, a quick Google (or Bing) search brings up a number of links, many of them several years old. Why, then, has the technology not been included in every single gun?

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Interestingly enough, both sides of aisle dislike the idea of smart guns:
Smart guns have been criticized by gun-rights groups like the NRA as well as by gun-control groups like the Violence Policy Center. Gun-rights groups generally feel that smart gun technology is an attempt to control citizen ownership of guns.

The Violence Policy Center feels smart guns will make gun ownership more commonplace by making guns seem safer.
Technology hasn't reached the point, though, where a fingerprint can be used to unlock a smart gun. There is technology from Verichip, though, that will prevent a gun from firing unless a chip -- implanted in a person -- matches with a scanning device inside a handgun.

Instead of that, most smart gun technology relies on a wristband, ring, or some other matching device which identifies the user, but not the most secure type of identification -- DNA, fingerprint, or even a retina scan.

These are things that are not yet available. Could they be, in the future? As the nation reels after the events of Friday, there will be discussion of gun control, and pehaps of smart guns, as well.



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