The future of firearms: smart guns?

President Barack Obama's Executive Action on guns includes a directive to the Attorney General, The Secretary of Defense, and The Secretary of Homeland Security to take a closer look into "smart gun" technology, where a weapon will only fire for the person authorized to use it.

The government could also become the technology's biggest client. In a memo along with his research mandate, he calls the Federal Government "the single largest purchaser of firearms in the country." And is asking the three  to look into whether or not buying smart guns would be "consistent with operational needs."

Although development of the technology has been underway for years, it has been shrouded in controversy. Gun Rights advocates fear if it's brought to market, using a "smart gun" will become a mandate.

On their website, the lobbying arm of the NRA welcomes the development of "smart gun" technology, and anyone who chooses to use it, as long as it remains voluntary.

"When I go hunting or have a handgun in my car or something that doesn't have the technology, it's my choice and it should be my choice," says Jonathan Mossberg. He's developed the iGun. A chip inside of a ring that's fitted to the owner of the gun. The gun is activated when the ring touches it. If the ring is off, the firearm is useless.

"I'm not developing this product for gun control or anything else, it's mission specific applications," Mossberg says, adding "think of Air Marshalls or prison guards." 

His family has been in the firearms business for many generations. He says he's been working on the technology for the past 15 years, but there hasn't been a market.

"Cost really isn't a big issue. The issue really is the fear of it being mandated and things like that which I am 100% against," he says.

Mossberg is one of eleven developers who shared a million dollars in grants from The Smart Tech Challenges Foundation. The organization was founded in 2012 after the massacre at Sandy Hook. They promote innovation of smart firearm safety.

"We surveyed the firearm industry landscape and found that up to that point there really had been minimal if any innovation in firearm safety," says the foundation's President, Margot Hirsch. She says that they support "free market trade" of the technology.

And she says the President's announcement about federal research into the technology is a vital step toward fostering development of the market.

"In light of today's announcement, it shines a spotlight on these technologies and builds awareness so that the public now knows that there are technologies that have the potential to make their firearms safer and save lives."

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