A new safety mechanism for guns may be coming on the market, leveraging biometrics to authenticate users of weapons.
Safe Gun Technology Inc. (SGTi), of Columbus, Ga., is working on a smart technology that gun owners can put on their weapons to ensure that only authorized users for those weapons can actually shoot the gun. “We’re using technology to hopefully prevent accidental shooting, prevent criminals [from stealing guns and using them] and prevent gun death and gun violence,” says Charles W. Miller, chairman of the board of directors for SGTi.
SGTi’s technology is proprietary, but Miller says it makes physical modifications to the firearm in order to add the identification system. Users would take their gun to a licensed gunsmith to add a retrofitting chip. To use the system, the gun owner would depress a tape switch that engages a fingerprint reader. The reader would read a thumb print, and upon recognition of the correct print, allows the user to shoot the weapon.
Miller says the reader “acts like a power switch,” and once the gun leaves the user’s hand, the technology will disarm the weapon until someone successfully authenticates into the system. “[If you] try to remove the retrofitting equipment, it will destroy the weapon,” says Miller.
To enable the biometric function, the gun owner takes on the role of master user of the system. “A master user allows a person to enter their fingerprint into the system. The fingerprint will be assigned a number by the reader, which will allow for easier record keeping for multiple authorized users,” says Miller.
The master user sets up an initial PIN that allows them to go in and register or change prints. They can then add and delete users as they see fit. To transfer ownership of the gun, the master user assigns his entryway to the new owner, who then can go in and delete any unwanted profiles, says Miller.
In SGTi’s prototype, which is a Remington 870, the biometrics are stored within the processor, and the system can hold about 150 prints. In choosing a system for the market version of the product, SGTi plans to use a system that can store “thousands of fingerprints,” says Miller. This will make the system ideal for armed forces battalions or large police forces that want to enable thousands of people to be able to use a particular weapon.
SGTi is currently raising capital for making and testing the product. Its engineers believe that with $30,000 to $50,000, they can build a better prototype with better technology, and that process should take about two months. “Once we raise that, we can accelerate turnaround,” says Miller, estimating that it will probably take about a year for the product to reach the market.