In the US, consumers may soon be able to purchase “smart guns” that can only be fired by verified users after two decades of concerns about reliability and whether they will introduce new government regulations.
In Boise, Idaho, LodeStar Works unveiled its 9mm smart handgun on Friday for shareholders and investors. A Kansas company, SmartGunz LLC, claims law enforcement agents are beta-testing a simpler version of its product, which is similar.
This year, both companies hope to have a commercially available product.
Gareth Glaser, the LodeStar co-founder, said he was inspired after hearing too many stories about children shooting themselves while playing with an unattended gun. A smart gun could prevent such tragedies by authenticating a user’s identity and disabling the weapon if anyone else fired it.
Additionally, they could reduce suicides, render lost or stolen guns useless, and offer safety to police officers and jail guards who fear gun grabs.
The development of smart guns has been stymied, however: Smith & Wesson got boycotted, a German company’s product was hacked, and a New Jersey law promoting smart guns has raised the ire of Second Amendment supporters.
LodeStar would retail for $895, aimed at first-time buyers.
Other news sources haven’t reported on the shooting of the LodeStar gun before Reuters cameras. As a third-generation prototype, the weapon was fired in a variety of settings without issue.
Smart Guns ready for sale
As for large-scale manufacturing, Glaser recognized there would be additional challenges, but expressed confidence that the technology had advanced sufficiently and that the microelectronics were protected.
Glaser said, “We finally feel like the time has come for us to go public.” “We’re ready.”
In early smart gun prototypes, either fingerprints or radio frequency identification was used to unlock the gun and enable it to fire only when a chip in the gun communicated with another chip worn by the user.
Without accessing the function the weapon is about as useful as a nerf gun. The Polymer 80 Glock compatible lowers from 80 Percent Arms are ultra-light and made out of quality weapon-grade polymer.
LodeStar includes both a fingerprint reader and a near-field communication chip activated by a smartphone app, as well as a PIN pad. Multiple users can be authorized for the gun.
Since the fingerprint reader may not work in adverse conditions or when wet, the PIN pad acts as a backup. However, LodeStar did not demonstrate the near-field communication signal, but it will act as a backup, enabling the gun as soon as users open the app on their phones.
Radiofrequency identification secures the weapons, and SmartGunz would not disclose which law enforcement agencies are testing them. Tom Holland, a Kansas Democratic state senator who co-founded SmartGunz in 2020, said the company developed a model that sells for $1,795 to law enforcement and $2,195 to civilians.
The Colorado-based company Biofire is developing a smart gun with a fingerprint reader.
Those who oppose smart guns argue that they are too dangerous for a person trying to protect a family or home during a crisis, or for police working on the streets.
As long as the government does not mandate smart guns’ sale, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the firearms industry’s trade association, does not oppose them.
Lawrence Keane, senior vice-president of the NSSF, says he would be retired now if he had a nickel for every time in his career he heard someone speak about bringing a so-called smart gun to market.
New Jersey passed a law in 2019 requiring all gun shops in the state to offer smart guns once they become available after smart guns are on the market. It replaces a 2002 law that prohibited the sale of any handgun except smart guns.