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Smart Guns and Gun Safety Features

Smart Guns and Gun Safety Features

What is the problem?

A personalized—or “smart”—gun is a firearm that employs authorized-use technology, like the thumb scan or passcode available on many smartphones, to turn stolen guns and guns accessed by children into harmless pieces of steel. If widely implemented, it would be a game-changer for keeping guns out of the hands of children and criminals.

Each year, more than 37,000 Americans die by gun—including more than 3,000 children and teens. There are an estimated 265 million civilian-owned firearms in the U.S., and more than one-third of homes contain at least one gun.

Authorized-use technology, as well as basic safety features like loaded chamber indicators, magazine safety disconnects, and other features designed to prevent a child from operating the gun, should be incorporated into new models of semiautomatic handguns to help prevent firearms from being unintentionally fired.

Despite the fact that guns are inherently dangerous, they are exempt from regulation by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. In addition, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) blocks legal responsibility for gun manufacturers that have failed to innovate and make guns safer.

How it Works

Smart gun technology and other guns safety features can stop unauthorized gun use.

Smart guns incorporate technology to ensure a gun can only be fired by a person who is authorized to use it. Similar to the thumb scan or passcode available on many smartphones, this technology would turn guns improperly accessed into harmless pieces of steel. Similarly, hundreds of thousands of guns are stolen every year, taken from houses, vehicles, and stores. Gun thefts often divert guns into an underground market where people with dangerous histories are easily able to obtain firearms without restriction. That is why stolen guns are often recovered at crime scenes, including at the scenes of homicides and other violent crimes. Smart guns make firearms inoperable to non-authorized users, and therefore could help eliminate the major public safety threat of stolen guns.

Other life-saving safety features can also be incorporated into semiautomatic handguns to help prevent them from being unintentionally fired. Even when a magazine is empty or removed, a round could be left in the firing chamber of the gun. A loaded chamber indicator visually indicates that a round is in the chamber, and a magazine safety disconnect prevents a gun from being fired if the magazine is removed. All new semiautomatic handgun models should have a loaded chamber indicator and a magazine safety disconnect to help prevent the gun from being fired unintentionally. They should also meet childproof standards that make it impossible for the average child to operate the gun, such as a higher trigger resistance making it difficult to fire the gun or requiring a series of multiple motions in order to fire the gun.