Connected pistols, which only respond to people identified in advance, could be marketed this year in the United States, where legislators are deadlocked on the regulation of firearms.
The interest of integrating electronic chips into certain weapons, and the reliability of these, have been debated for years. The objective would be to prevent children, criminals and suicidal people from pulling the trigger.
But there is no evidence at this stage that the followers of armed self-defense are not ready to adopt them, nor that these so-called “intelligent” pistols do not work as well as promised.
“I don’t have a crystal ball to know if it’s going to be rather positive, rather negative or in the end the same failure as for other connected guns in the past”, remarks Adam Skaggs, a legal adviser at Giffords, an association of regulation of firearms.
SmartGunz company boss Tom Holland with one of his smart guns in Kansas (SMARTGUNZ, LLC/AFP – – )The SmartGunz company used RFID (radio frequency identification) chips, such as those used in badges for electronic tolls, for example. The user must wear a connected ring in order to fire.
Boss Tom Holland is targeting police officers who fear an apprehended person will turn their gun on them, or worried parents the idea that their children will not find their gun.
“People who want a more +safer+ weapon can make this choice if they feel they need lethal protection at home. them”, he explains.
His products are already being tested by police units in the country, and he hopes to market them to the public in the spring.
– Fingerprint –
Some 40% of American adults live in a home where there are firearms, estimates the firm Pew Research Center.
Near 23 million units were sold in 2020, a record, according to Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting, which is counting on 20 million for 2021.
The pandemic and protests against racial discrimination contributed to a sharp increase in homicides in 2020, although levels remained below peaks years 20.
And American tragedies in schools or public places regularly make headlines , but more than half of 40.01 deaths caused by firearms each year are suicides.
Ginger Chandler, the co-founder of the manufacturer LodeStar Works, sees in authentication systems a physical but also a psychological barrier to incidents.
“In a moment of stress, the authorized person will grab the weapon but there will be this additional step”, she notes. “Maybe it will give them time to think, ‘Do I really want to do this?'”.
His company plans to market in 2023 a 9 mm which can be activated via a mobile application, directly with a secret code or even by biometric recognition of the fingerprint.
– More “intelligent” but always deadly –
Companies probably won’t be able to count on legislators to get their new gear adopted. The subject divides the voters to the point of preventing any evolution of the laws.
In 2000, the American manufacturer Smith & Wesson and the government of Bill Clinton had started agreement to have connected guns as part of reforms to reduce violence, but the project fell through in the face of opposition from the powerful gun lobby.
From even, in 2000, a law of the State of New Jersey, which would have prohibited the pistols without mechanism of authentication, had caused the indignation. It was never really applied, the technology not being ready.
This law was finally transformed into 2019 in a simple obligation for state armories to sell these new generation weapons when they are marketed.
The episode of the failure of the German manufacturer Armatix did not help this technology either: in 2017, a hacker bypassed their identification system with magnets.
Above all, the concept is not even unanimous among supporters of gun control.
Because connected or not, these weapons remain deadly. And “few high-risk owners or families will buy these pistols more expensive than the others. They will especially appeal to those who already cared about safety”, underlines Daniel Webster, researcher specializing in the subject at Johns Hopkins University.
Gareth Glaser, the co-founder of LodeStar, does not want to get involved in political debates: “we prefer that the government not get involved and let the consumer choose”.