Justice eyes smart gun tech to secure officers’ firearms

To better understand how smart firearm technologies could be used to help secure  federal law officers' handguns, the Justice Department's research and development agency is turning to gun safety companies and the public for suggestions.

On July 15, the National Institute of Justice issued draft baseline specifications for how law enforcement service pistols would be equipped with security technology.  

At the same time, the research agency is running a smart gun technology challenge through August in Maryland in which it is asking smart gun manufacturers for objective demonstrations and tests of existing smart guns, user-authorized handguns, childproof guns, personalized firearms and associated accessories that reduce the chances of accidental or purposeful use by an unauthorized user.

Generally, smart guns incorporate user-authentication technology so that they can only be fired by their rightful, electronically identified owners. Some guns also have electronic recovery technology that makes them easier to locate if they're lost or stolen.

The draft specifications and the challenge at Aberdeen are in response to President Barack Obama's January memo asking federal law enforcement agencies to investigate how smart gun technology might work and report on their findings.

In April, the departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Defense submitted a joint report to the president that outlined a strategy to put the deployment of gun safety technology on a fast track for federal service weapons and to incorporate the technology into firearm design.

The report described the potential benefits of advanced gun safety technology but said additional work is needed before the technology is ready for widespread adoption by law enforcement agencies.

In particular, the report stressed the importance of integrating the technology into a firearm's design without compromising the reliability, durability and accuracy that officers expect from their service weapons.

This article was first posted to FCW, a sister site to GCN.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.

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Reader Comments

Thu, Jul 21, 2016

The Devil is in the details! "In particular, the report stressed the importance of integrating the technology into a firearm's design without compromising the reliability, durability and accuracy that officers expect from their service weapons". This is where this technology fails.

Wed, Jul 20, 2016 ExNuke

How many police have said NO they do not want and would not carry a "smart gun"? The only people wanting them are the ones who would never buy one under any circumstances. Over priced and unreliable .22s are the solution to a problem that doesn't exist.

Wed, Jul 20, 2016

This seems to be a solution in search of a problem. I haven't seen any studies that say that theft and misuse of officers' firearms is a huge problem. This seems to be more of a political movement to push smart gun technology for all weapons which opens up a whole Pandora's Box of other problems.

Wed, Jul 20, 2016 Rich

Not So Smart After All: Turns Out 'Smart Guns' Can Be Hacked - By their computerized nature, any computerized “smart” gun can be rendered inoperable just as the TrackingPoint was in this test, and some smart guns are rumored to have been designed from the ground up to be rendered inoperable with the push of a button by either the manufacturer, or by government itself. federalist papers

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