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This MIT Freshman is Developing a Smart Gun to Save Lives -- How?

Feb 14, 2017 09:54 AM EST
Smart Gun Technology: MIT Graduate Begins Developing Smart Gun Tech For Gun Safety Woes
An MIT freshman is developing a smart gun technology that could potentially save thousands of lives. However, some critics are for and against the idea.
(Photo : John Moore/Getty Images)

An MIT freshman is developing a smart gun technology that could potentially save thousands of lives. However, some critics are for and against the idea.

Restricted Gun Use for Safety

Kai Kloepfer has been developing his prototypes since high school. His primary asset is that there is a fingerprint-recognition software in the middle of the handle. This means owners will be the only one allowed to use their guns and cannot be used by others.

Kloepfer's smart gun fires only when it can recognize the finger on the grip. He claimed there's a 99.999 percent accuracy on his technology, with each gun capable of supporting up to 1,000 different authorized prints. His design won grand prize in the Intel International Science and Engineering fair, as well as a $50,000 funding from the Smart Tech Challenges Foundation.

New York Times piece elaborated Kloepfer is not the only one pushing for smart guns. For instance, Armatix iPi from a German company can only fire if its user is wearing a companion arm piece.

Smart guns are part of the "unknown" entrants in safety technology. According to Study Breaks, "safety technology" is an umbrella term for devices that have the ability to protect themselves, their data, and their users to a certain degree. Technology under this category are drones, tasers, surveillance cameras and other surveillance devices. However, others are using these to also make smart firearms. 

Smart Guns to Lessen Children Mortality

Kloepfer told CBS News in an interview that this means unauthorized people like children or teenagers looking to harm themselves will be unable to access firearms that are owned by other people such as their parents.

This is particulary relevant as a recent study in the journal Pediatrics reveals that about 20 children and teenagers are shot in the U.S. every day. According to the New York Times, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FBI showed that there are more children killed by guns per year (80) than police officers (50). 

In an UPROXX interview, Coni Sanders, a forensic therapist, claims that people are particularly invested in gun safety, especially if they have been affected by it themselves. These include victims, potential victims and relatives of potential victims of gun violence. 

What Critics are Saying

Stephen Teret, a gun expect at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, believes smart guns can save lives -- albiet, not all lives. However, he emphasized that the best way is to still make guns safe as a consumer product.

David Hemenway from Harvard said that police departments and the military can promote the usage of smart guns, as their buying them can create a market.

Meanwhile, Jared Campbell, a former marine and operations manager at the Family Shooting Center in Colorado, said that a smart gun is not the most useful tool. He elaborated that everyone in the army uses gloves as they are mandatory. 

Regardless, the development of the smart gun and other safety methods such as biometrics and encryption is proof that in a world where everything that happens can be shared in public, there is a need to ensure privacy. 

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