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18.4.2021 : 5:47 : +0200

'Smart gun' technology

Personalized Firearms and Electronic Safety Devices: Perspectives

Firearm safety has traditionally relied on mechanical systems, such as external safety devices (including safes and cable locks to prevent unauthorized removal and theft) and integral mechanisms to insure user-safety once the weapon is in hand (standard manual hammer blocks, de-cocking levers, and trigger- or magazine-disconnect safeties).

Electronics could add a layer of additional safety and security for firearms. Examples include ‘smart’ handguns that incorporate technology like radio frequency identification (RFID), fingerprint recognition, or magnetic rings to restrict access and use of a gun to a specific shooter. However there is widespread distrust from both civilian and law enforcement consumers.

In order to dispel myths and shed light on this sensitive debate, the German Federal Foreign Office and the Bonn International Center for Conversion is holding a conference on smart technologies for small arms control in Berlin, on 17 and 18 June, targeting a wide audience from various communities: academic researchers, gun control advocates, industry representatives, stockpile management practitioners, law enforcement officers, hunters, and sport shooters.

To support the conference the Small Arms Survey commissioned four background papers reflecting various perspectives of the ‘smart gun’ debate.

Two of these papers discuss electronic firearm safety devices (FSD), with a focus on Germany. Günter Maximilian Hefner and Karl Friedrich Giebel describe the typology and technical potential of electronic FSDs. Jörg Schönbohm, former Chief of the German Army and member of government, emphasizes the role of political will, and provides his perspective on the German Gun Law’s acknowledgement, acceptance, and promotion of electronic FSDs. The other two papers look at personalized firearms, with a focus on the United States. Stephen Teret discusses the need for personalized guns, as well as the history, technology, public acceptance, politics, and law related to such guns. Michael Recce details the Dynamic Grip Recognition (DGR) biometric gun that was developed by the author and his colleagues at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT).


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