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Smart Guns

February 16, 2014

Biometric sensors on guns could decrease accidental deaths and suicides.



Making guns smarter and safer. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

800px-Fingerprint_detail_on_male_finger Frettie CC Wikipedia

Biometric sensors that scan a person’s fingerprints, for example, could help prevent accidental gun deaths. (Credit: Frettie/Wikipedia)

Every year, thousands of people in the United States commit suicide using a firearm, and hundreds more die when guns go off accidentally. One way to decrease those statistics could be through the promotion of personalized, or “smart” guns, according to Stephen Teret of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. These guns use biometrics such as fingerprints to identify authorized users.

STEPHEN TERET (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health):

It would discriminate against all other people, and by that I mean, the gun wouldn’t fire. So if a young child picks up the gun, if a depressed teenager picks up the gun, if the gun is stolen from the home, it’s not going to work in the hands of any of those people.


Surveys suggest that the majority of legal gun owners are supportive of smart guns, Teret reports. They’re already sold in Europe and Asia and are now starting to become available in the United States. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.