One manufacturer believes it has a solution to the gun violence plaguing the United States - a personalized smart gun that uses fingerprint technology to make firearms safer.
Ginger Chandler is the co-founder of LodeStar Works in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She said she believes her company’s smart gun can be a solution to the rising gun-related deaths in the country.
Chandler said the smart gun can only be fired by an authenticated user; in this case, verified by his or her fingerprint.
“What we know is if an unauthorized person picks up that firearm in a time of stress or they're going to do something quick, they're not going to be able to do it,” said Chandler.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recently published data, overall firearm-related deaths increased by 15% in 2020, to over 45,000 deaths, the highest number ever recorded by the CDC since it began tracking firearm deaths in 1968.
Daniel Webster is the co-director of Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions. He has been researching approaches to reduce gun violence through a public health lens rather than solely a criminal justice approach.
“By thinking about this as a public health problem, you really expand how you think about it and the potential solutions that you have to address it…[For example] reducing unintentional shootings involving young people, teen suicides and juvenile perpetrated homicides,” said Webster.
An analysis from the New England Journal of Medicine labeled the increasing firearm-related mortality rates as a “preventable cause of death.”
Chandler said that the three fail-safes - an app, a pin-pad and a fingerprint - manufactured into the smart gun can help combat some of those preventable deaths.
“First, there's an app on the phone… The other way to unlock it is just a pin-pad on the side,” said Chandler. “And then if you put your fingerprint on that pad.”
Not all are convinced. Webster said that, despite “some really big safety gains” from smart guns, it is “not realistic” that the guns will help lower the homicide rate.
In the past, the National Rifle Association has supported smart guns, but raised concerns about the tech becoming mandatory for all firearms sold in the United States.
But many Americans favor gun control laws. An ABC News IPSOS poll found 89% of Americans support background checks for all buyers.
Chandler said that making guns safer is a “net positive” - without taking away guns from Americans.
“I'm a shooter. I hunt. It is something I am involved in. It's a passion. I enjoy it,” said Chandler. “I absolutely respect the person who says we should not have any more guns… I respect that and I just want the same respect.”