Last week’s Minnesota school shootings, in which the killer stole guns from his grandfather, raises the question of why it isn’t possible to design guns that can only by fired by their authorized user, the Los Angeles Times says. It’s being explored by the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark. In 2002, the New Jersey legislature encouraged development of so-called smart guns. New Jersey would permit the sale of only smart guns three years after any manufacturer brought to the market a viable model.
The technology unit has been working to develop such a firearm since 1999, the last few years with the help of federal funds obtained by senators Jon Corzine and Frank Lautenberg. It has focused on “dynamic grip recognition” technology. That’s a system enabling sensors in a gun’s handle to recognize the owner’s grip and then block anyone else from firing it. The institute demonstrated a prototype in December; it’s an estimated three years away from producing an gun that consumers will consider reliable enough to purchase. The smart gun would need to demonstrate that it could recognize its owner if he was wearing gloves, or grabbed the gun in an unusual way under stress, or even picked it up with the hand other than the one he normally uses.