ATLANTA — Smartphones have revolutionized the way we communicate. Now comes what some call smart guns.
They’re personalized so they can only be fired by verified users.
Channel 2′s Tom Regan went to a firing range to test one of the guns and talked with supporters and opponents of this new firearm technology.
It looks like your standard 9mm handgun and fires like one, too. But the gun is programmed through a smartphone and can only be fired by someone verified to use it.
“So many people buy a firearm and then buy a safe to put the firearm in. This puts the safe in your firearm,” said Ginger Chandler LodeStar Co-Founder and Chief Financial Officer.
She gave Channel 2 Action News a demonstration of what LodeStar calls a personally authenticated firearm.
“You can authenticate it in three different ways. You can use an app on the phone via Bluetooth, you could do PIN pad on the front of the grip that unlocked or locks it, or you can use a fingerprint,” Chandler said.
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The gun stores a thumb or fingerprint image scanned on a biometric panel near the trigger. Once stored, a matching print unlocks the gun in an instant.
“It’s like a key to a door basically. You know if you put the wrong key in the door, and it’s not your fingerprint, it’s not going to unlock the gun,” said Rob Regent, LodeStar’s lead engineer.
More than one person can be verified to use it.
“The biometrics allow us to store 10 fingerprints,” Chandler said.
“I’ll ask you a direct, pointed question. Is this weapon going to save lives?” Regan asked.
“Oh, absolutely this weapon is going to save lives,” Chandler said.
According to the National Safety Council, preventable or accidental gunfire kills over 500 people in the United States each year. Sadly, last year, 154 involved children.
“I did have some experience on my own with colleagues whose children had been shot unintentionally,” said Gareth Glaser, LodeStar’s CEO and Co-Founder.
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Glaser said tragic stories of children killed while playing with a gun inspired him to develop weapon authentication technology.
He said smart guns will not only reduce unintentional child shootings but suicides as well.
“A large number are committed using someone else’s firearm. So that is easily preventable using our firearm,” Glaser said.
At the firing range, Regan got a chance to test the smart gun. Once activated, he fired multiple rounds with ease.
Past efforts to develop smart guns have failed, but Glaser said the technology wasn’t up to speed.
“We will prove to the market that we will produce the first really innovative, reliable, cool, technologically advanced firearm,” Glaser said.
While this technology holds the promise of reducing accidental and crime-related shootings, some gun rights organizations are not ready to endorse it.
“It’s going to be powered by a chip and a battery. Batteries go, fail all the time,” said John Henry, executive director of Georgia Carry.
Henry said smart guns may not be so smart when it comes to reliable self-defense.
“I don’t like that you have to go through any other mechanism other than pointing and pulling the trigger,” Henry said.
The National Rifle Association does not oppose the development or sale of smart guns, but added: “The NRA does oppose laws that seek to mandate Americans to exclusively acquire or possess only so-called smart guns.”
Gareth Glaser, LodeStar’s CEO agrees with that.
“In terms of mandates, we are against them,” Glaser said.
LodeStar hopes to be selling smart guns next year.
They will cost about $850. That is more than a traditional gun, but buyers won’t need to purchase a safe.
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