Earlier this month, Culpeper joined the growing ranks of Virginia localities identifying as a 2nd Amendment sanctuary. 2nd Amendment sanctuary cities have been one of the hottest stories around the past couple of weeks.
Culpeper joins a group of over 41 counties and cities where locally elected officials have voted to identify as such with citizens packing the house. This is a preemptive move based on the newly elected Virginia State Legislature potentially introducing bills that will try to inhibit gun rights through increased regulations. As I write this, there have been no official bills submitted.
What I am more curious about is what advances in safety technology can be implemented to lessen or prevent accidental shootings, theft, or suicide. If these technologies exist, why are they not more widely implemented?
Just the Facts
It is estimated that there are 120 firearms per 100 residents in the United States.
Roughly, the United States accounts for just under 15% of all total gun deaths in the world.
1.7 million households have children and unlocked firearms.
21,000 suicides each year, many are carried out with a firearm they do not own.
There are two primary technologies developed for gun storage and use safety: Biometrics and RFID.
Biometrics is similar to how many of us use our smartphones and other keypads because it uses fingerprints. Several companies are developing smart guns that have fingerprint readers embedded into the grip. There is no wireless communication to the gun itself, so you register the fingerprints of the authorized users and they are stored locally on the gun. The fingerprint reader can unlock the trigger in a fraction of a second.
Radio-frequency Identification (RFID) is old technology at this point. It uses radio waves stored on an object like a key fob, watch, or ring that unlocks the trigger when it is within a few inches to a few feet away. It can also unlock the trigger mechanisms or safe within a fraction of a second as well.
Is it Practical?
Yes and No
Biometrics and RFID technology are very proven.
But there are issues with implementation and costs that make widespread rollout difficult, if not impossible.
Retrofitting existing weapons is extremely limited. I’ve seen costs reported in the $300-$400 range, and that is limited to very small groups of specific models of firearms.
The cost comes as a concern when this could increase the price of a gun by 50%.
Have you ever searched for how many different types of firearms exist? I have. Check out this gigantic list: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_firearms
Even buying a new “smart-gun” with the technology built-in is limited. Biofire Technologies is developing electronically locked Smart Guns, but it's limited to right-handed users.
Then, with RFID, there is the additional responsibility of keeping tabs of your token key on top of trying to retrofit or buy new.
There are also additional types of locks that fit within the trigger and trigger guard, with traditional keys, biometrics, or RFID and the primary pushback has been they dramatically reduce the speed of access.
The most practical way to improve firearm safety, in my opinion, is advancements in storage monitoring. There are plenty of safes, big and small, that already integrate biometrics. But we should take that a step further.
I have an app on my phone that alerts me if my garage door opens and closes, and I can check its current status. Why do we not integrate that sort of technology into our safes?
Alarm systems for your house will beep at you when you enter your home. You must enter the deactivation code or the alarm will sound within seconds. What about an audible alarm on a gun safe that must be deactivated when the door is opened?
I’ve seen these types of devices in various forms online, but they are seldom brought up in the larger safety discussion. The cost won’t break the bank either. The discussions around guns are always on the extreme end of the spectrums, which needs to stop. Not everyone is trying to take your guns away and not everyone is trying to mount a turret system on the hood of their vehicle.
One area I hope we all can agree on is that we don’t want a child stumbling across a loaded weapon, and proper storage is a great solution. You are a negligent parent/guardian by leaving loaded weapons within easy access to unsupervised children. The goal with these types of devices is to limit unauthorized access to your weapons from family and friends that are in your home.
I do own a handgun (Glock 21) and have a concealed weapons permit. But I am not opposed to increases in safety training and background checks before obtaining a weapon or a concealed permit. When I obtained my concealed permit, at least 15 years ago, there was very little official training required. None of the training involved even touching a gun. I was fortunate to have been around friends and family that were professionally trained and one that is an active firearm instructor.
Resources for You to Explore and have a safe, Merry Christmas!