In the latest James Bond movie, the hero is given a gun that recognizes the palm of his hand. Later, when a bad guy snatches the pistol away in a tussle, it won’t fire, and Agent 007 lives to die another day. It may have felt like Hollywood fantasy, but the basic premise is very real – and very dear – to some lawmakers and gun control advocates, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. They believe the time has come for a marriage of firearms – which have changed little for decades – and modern technology that allows all sorts of devices to be personalized to their user.
President Obama, in the anti-gun-violence plan he introduced in January, directed the attorney general to issue a report on “existing and emerging gun safety technologies.” He also promised prizes to companies that develop the smart guns. A California state senator introduced legislation last month that would require all handguns sold in the state to be “owner-authorized.” The idea is that a gun should be useless if picked up by a child or a suicidal teen or stolen in a burglary. The weapons would feature biometric technology such as fingerprint or grip recognition, or radio-frequency identification, which is used in employee-access badges and the toll-collection system FasTrak. Skeptics of the technology point out that, despite years of research and high hopes, such guns are still not available in the United States. But that may be changing.