By the Blouin News Technology staff

Smart guns: better late than never?

by in Personal Tech.

Gun club. (Source: Peretz Partensky/flickr)

Gun club. (Source: Peretz Partensky/flickr)

On Friday, U.S. President Obama threw his weight behind the development of smart gun technology in what many see as a last ditch effort to get the ball rolling on changes to gun policies in the U.S. The technology itself would prevent anyone but the owner of the firearm from shooting the gun.

Proponents say this tech would prevent children from accidentally shooting off firearms, as well as styme criminals who steal them. Critics say the technology has not been proven to be efficient or useful, and is an unwarranted restriction on the freedom to use firearms, according to the New York Times.

The White House’s website quotes President Obama:

If we can set it up so you can’t unlock your phone unless you’ve got the right fingerprint, why can’t we do the same thing for our guns? If a child can’t open a bottle of aspirin, we should make sure that they can’t pull a trigger on a gun.

Earlier this year, the president called on the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, and the Justice Department to prepare a report outlining a strategy for smart gun technology deployment, aimed at defining requirements for manufacturers, i.e., how they would go about testing the technology, and how the federal government could apply grants to firearms equipped with “advanced safety technology”.

Whether or not this push for smart gun technology is indeed a last ditch effort, the soon-to-be outgoing president faces virulent opposition when it comes to any changes in gun laws. No measure introduced on a state or federal level that alters gun laws these days goes without fierce hostility from proponents of gun freedoms. Meaning Obama’s directive may be an attempt to reach some middle ground. While he is unlikely to pass any gun-restrictive legislation through a Republican-led Congress, perhaps his administration can help change how firearms are built. If this effort to jumpstart a smart gun tech market does take off, it will be up to Obama’s successor to see it through.