Justice eyes smart gun tech to secure officers’ firearms
- By Mark Rockwell
- Jul 19, 2016
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.
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.
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