Can Smart Guns Prevent Massacres Like Newtown?

Friday, January 11, 2013, by Collier Johnson II

On December 14, 2012, a gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and opened fire on students and teachers killing twenty students and six adults.  Unfortunately, school shootings have become all too familiar in America.  In 1999, fifteen people were killed in a school shooting at Colorado’s Columbine High School.  In 2007, thirty-three people were killed by a gunman at Virginia Tech.  After the latest school shooting in Newtown, legislators have contemplated ways to prevent such massacres.  Some people have suggested that we should constantly check the mental state of gun owners, but a workable standard has not been developed.  Others have called for the renewal of the Assault Weapons Ban, but political support for such legislation will be difficult to gain. Absent from the debate is how technology can play a role in preventing massacres like Newtown.

We believe we could have helped prevent the Newtown Massacre

New York Times columnist Nick Bilton explains how “Smart Guns” can make guns safer and possibly help prevent unfortunate massacres.  A smart gun contains technology that can “sense the registered owner of a gun and allow only that person to fire it.”  The technology already exists but it is simply not used in the manufacture of guns by the most popular companies.  One example of a smart gun is the iGun, manufactured by the Mossberg Group.  The iGun cannot be fired “unless its owner is wearing a ring with a chip that activates the gun.”

This would prevent individuals like the gunman in Newtown, who used his mother’s guns, from using weapons that did not belong to him.  However, it would not prevent individuals like the gunman in Aurora, Colorado, who opened fire in a crowded theater last year, who lawfully owned all of the guns he used.  Perhaps most promising is technology developed by TriggerSmart, an Irish Company that has patented a childproof smart-gun.  This technology allows the gun maker to designate specific areas that the TriggerSmart guns cannot be used in, like schools and other crowded places, and all guns that enter those areas will be disabled.  Robert McNamara, the founder of the company, believes that TriggerSmart’s technology could be used to help prevent school shootings.  He told the New York Times that “we believe we could have helped prevent the Newtown Massacre.”