A High-Tech Solution to Gun Violence

April 15, 2008 9:19:06 PM PDT
What if there was a way to keep kids from firing guns by mistake, or to keep crooks from using stolen guns to hurt people?

New technology may make that reality, and lawmakers in Sacramento are planning ahead.

In the movie, "Judge Dredd," smart guns will fire only if they recognize the shooter's palm print. Otherwise the weapons don't work.

That technology is just a few years from becoming reality, as companies worldwide race to put biometric images of hands into the grip of the gun.

"If the person is not recognized, the gun would not be unlocked. So the gun would not fire," said Ho Chang from Nanoident Biometrics.

Chang came to Sacramento assure lawmakers that smart guns are no longer fiction.

One Bay Area Democrat is so confident in the Star Trek technology, he was able to convince the Public Safety Committee on Tuesday to require it on every gun sold in California once it's developed.

"We think it's a reasoned approach to look at new technology that actually might make these dangerous products safer for all Californians," said Assemblyman Mark DeSaulnier (D) Concord.

Biometric technology is already in use at some airports, where a traveler's fingerprints are scanned at the immigration checkpoint to ensure identity.

DeSaulnier thinks applying it to weapons would prevent kids from accidentally pulling the trigger and stop thieves from using stolen guns.

But gun groups say it was irresponsible for the committee to pass a bill requiring technology that doesn't exist and hasn't been tested.

"The last thing in the world you want to do is put a computer on a gun. What happens when the battery goes dead? What happens when the computer software fails? All of us have seen the blue screen of death on our PC's," said Ed Worley from the National Rifle Association.

New Jersey passed a similar smart gun requirement in 2002. That was six years ago, and still no smart gun.

California's proposal sets a deadline of 2014. If the smart gun isn't on the market by then, the law would become void.


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