Gun safety technology could help protect the 4.6 million American kids who live in homes with locked and unloaded guns
January 31, 2019 — Giffords, the gun violence organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her husband Captain Mark Kelly, praised the reintroduction of the Start Advancing Firearms Enhancements and Technology (SAFETY) Act by Congressman Jim Himes (D-CT) today. The SAFETY ACT provides tax incentives to small businesses for the development of gun safety technology and encourages consumers to buy firearms that utilize new breakthroughs in safety.
“While technology has changed our daily lives in remarkable ways, the gun lobby has stonewalled any attempt to bring innovation to firearms,” said Robin Lloyd, managing director at Giffords. “It’s time to end this blockade because gun safety technology is needed to address the nation’s gun violence crisis. Gun safety technology can make firearms more secure and reduce the number of suicides and accidental shootings that plague our country. This legislation empowers investors and manufacturers in the firearm industry by giving them an opportunity to produce new gun safety technology designs and bring them to market. We’re grateful for Congressman Himes’ leadership and look forward to working with him to advance this life-saving proposal.”
Gun safety technology includes personalized guns and accessories such as gun safes, trigger locks and retrofit kits that help keep firearms safe. These innovations hold the potential to reduce gun suicides, unintentional shootings, and gun thefts.
- Personalized guns let owners control who accesses their gun. The technology used to give owners this control includes biometric security methods, like fingerprint sensors and radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology, which uses radio waves to identify objects.
- Personalized accessories, like a fingerprint trigger lock, add an extra layer of security to gun safes or locks. When used with traditional guns, they offer a similar level of security to personalized guns.
Each year, more than 100,000 Americans fall victim to gun violence — more than 8,300 children in the United States receive emergency room treatment for gun-related injuries every year, with 39% being unintentional. Of the approximately 400 million guns in the US, an estimated 400,000 are stolen annually. 80% of stolen firearms are never recovered, and 10-15% are later used in crimes.
In a recent report, Giffords Law Center found that gun safety technology can help reduce these numbers by preventing gun suicide and stopping unintentional shootings, including by protecting the 4.6 million kids who live in homes with locked and unloaded guns and reducing the 400,000 gun thefts that happen every year.
While the firearm industry has devoted resources to developing technology that makes guns more lethal, such as laser sights and bump stocks, none of this energy has been directed to designing mechanical and technological innovations that manufacturers could adopt to make firearms safer. Leading firearms manufacturers have so far refused to be innovative with firearms technology, and the gun lobby has been central to this opposition. For example, in 2000, the NRA led boycotts against Smith & Wesson after the company settled litigation over its firearm designs by agreeing to dedicate resources to developing personalized guns. After boycotts nearly drove the company out of business, Smith & Wesson reneged on the agreement.
To further incentivize this market, Congress should make it easier for businesses and entrepreneurs to develop and invest in lifesaving technology. The Start Advancing Firearms Enhancements and Technology (SAFETY) Act would narrow the funding gap that currently hinders the development of personalized firearms, safes and trigger locks. The legislation introduced today will offset the costs of research and development of gun safety technology, taking a critical step forward for making these products readily available to American consumers.
“We must approach the challenge of reducing gun violence in our communities from multiple angles,” said Congressman Himes. “The SAFETY Act promotes the kind of technologies that prevent guns from being fired by anyone except their lawful owner. That will mean fewer tragic accidents involving children who get their hands on guns and fewer crimes involving stolen guns. Universal background checks can help keep dangerous individuals from purchasing guns in the first place, but the SAFETY act will prevent loss of life down the line – at the hands of either innocents or criminals. Increasing incentives for producers and purchasers to manufacture and buy guns with these smart technologies will save lives.”
Even with the current funding barriers, start-up companies have shown that progress to develop gun safety technology is possible. Examples of gun safety technology that is currently in development include:
- Handgun from Biofire that unlocks with a fingerprint scanner. The firearm can be programmed for multiple users and is charged using a cell phone charger.
- Handgun from iGun Technology, which previously developed an RFID shotgun activated by a ring worn by the user. The iGun shotgun was fully functional and completed military standard testing.
- Reach, a biometric safe designed like a gun holster that allows users access to their firearm in under half a second.
- GunGuardian, a durable mechanical trigger guard that can be retrofitted to traditional firearms. The device retracts a spring-loaded shield that covers a firearm’s trigger.
Along with Congressman Himes, the SAFETY Act is co-sponsored by Representatives Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Katie Hill (D-CA), Ann Kuster (D-NH), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), and Darren Soto (D-FL).
For more information on gun safety technology, please visit the Giffords Law Center page on gun safety technology.