Smart Guns

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Everybody has felt the gut wrenching emotion induced by news stories of children being shot. Whether suicide, accidental shooting, or school shooting these are tragedies that touch nearly everyone. This paper will examine a technology that many believe has the potential to drastically reduce incidents like the ones previously mentioned. This technology is popularly referred to as smart gun technology. Smart guns or personalized guns are guns designed to be fired only by the gun's owner. As such the gun would be useless in the hands children.

The Need for a Smart Gun

According to FBI statistics in 2005 twenty percent of cops shot in the line of duty were shot with their own gun, and there were twenty-four deaths resulting from school shootings (http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/homicide/add info .htm). These statistics demonstrate some potential benefits of smart gun technology.

As stated in the introduction, a smart gun can only be operated by its legal owner, therefore they may reduce the likelihood of firearm injuries to young children and law enforcement officers. Police armed with a smart gun could never be shot by a criminal who had managed to wrestle their

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gun away from them. Since children cannot legally purchase

firearms they would not be able to accidentally discharge them or use them in school shootings. Firearms that were stolen would be useless.

How Smart Guns Operate

There are a number of technologies in existence that can be used to personalize guns. The simplest of these technologies are variations on the mechanical locks that are already in existence. Some of these smart locks require the owner to type in a code on a keypad to unlock the device, others use a fingerprint scanner to unlock the device.

The fingerprint scanner and keypad have also been integrated into the firearm instead of being located on a removable locking device. America's largest gun manufacturer, Smith & Wesson, has developed a prototype which only allows the magazine to be inserted after it has verified the owners thumbprint (http://www.usdoj.gov/opa/pr/ 2000/May/263nij.htm). German manufacturer Sig Arms has a gun which requires the owner to type in the proper combination of numbers before the gun will activate (Gromer , 2003 p35).

Other technology that is currently being tested requires the gun owner to wear a ring, wristband, or watch which activates a computer within the gun allowing it to fire. Colt currently has a prototype which uses a ring or

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