Smart weapons are finally arriving in the US to shake up the arms market

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Personalized Smart Guns that can only be fired by verified users may finally be available to U.S. consumers after two decades of reliability questions and concerns that will usher in a new wave of government regulation.

Four-year-old LodeStar Works unveiled its 9mm smart pistol to shareholders and investors in Boise, Idaho, on Friday. And a Kansas company, SmartGunz LLC, says law enforcement agencies are beta testing their product, a similar but simpler model.

Both companies hope to launch a product later this year.

LodeStar co-founder Gareth Glaser said he was inspired after hearing too many stories about children being shot while playing with an unattended gun. Smart weapons could stop such tragedies by using technology to authenticate a user’s identity and disable the weapon in case someone else tries to fire it.

Mark Cerchione from the Double Tapp shooting range fires the LodeStar 9mm Smart Gun.Brian Losness / Reuters

They could also reduce suicides, render lost or stolen weapons useless, and provide security to police officers and prison guards who fear gun theft.

But attempts to develop smart weapons have stalled: Smith & Wesson has been hit by a boycott, the product of a German company has been hacked, and a law in New Jersey promoting smart weapons has sparked the ire of defenders of the Second Amendment.

The LodeStar pistol, aimed at first-time buyers, would sell for $ 895.

The test shot of the LodeStar cannon in front of Reuters cameras was not reported elsewhere. A range officer fired the gun, a third generation prototype, in its various settings with no problem.

Glaser acknowledged that high volume production would bring additional challenges, but expressed confidence that after years of trial and error, the technology had advanced enough and that the microelectronics inside the weapon were well protected.

“We finally have the feeling that we have reached the point where … we’re going public,” said Glaser. “Was there.”

Most of the early prototypes of smart guns used either fingerprint unlocking or radio frequency identification technology, which enabled the gun to fire only when a chip in the gun was communicating with another chip held by the user in a ring or bracelet will be carried.

LodeStar integrates both a fingerprint reader and a near-field communication chip, which is activated via a telephone app, as well as a PIN pad. The weapon can be authorized for more than one user.

The fingerprint reader unlocks the gun in microseconds, but since it may not work in wet or other adverse conditions, the PIN pad is there as a backup. LodeStar didn’t demonstrate the near field communication signal, but it would act as a secondary backup and activate the weapon as quickly as users can open the app on their phones.

SmartGunz wouldn’t tell which law enforcement agencies test its weapons that are secured by radio frequency identification. SmartGunz has developed a model that sells for $ 1,795 for law enforcement and $ 2,195 for civilian, said Tom Holland, a Senator from the Democratic State of Kansas who co-founded the company in 2020.

Ginger Chandler, SVP and Chief Technical Officer of LodeStar Works, presents the breakdown of their intelligent weapon, which only works for the specified user.Brian Losness / Reuters

Colorado-based Biofire is developing a smart weapon with a fingerprint reader.

Skeptics have argued that smart guns are too risky for a person trying to protect a home or family during a crisis or for the local police force.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the firearms industry trade association, says it will not oppose smart weapons until the government orders their sale.

“If I had a dime for every time in my career every time I heard someone say they brought us a smart gun, I would probably be retired now,” said Lawrence Keane, senior vice president of the NSSF .

Guns that hit the market could trigger a 2019 law in New Jersey requiring all gun shops in the state to sell smart guns after they’re available. The 2019 law replaced a 2002 law that would have banned the sale of handguns other than smart guns.

“The other side tilted her hand for banning anything with smart weapons that isn’t a smart weapon,” said Scott Bach, executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs. “It woke up gun owners.”

When Smith & Wesson signed an agreement with the US government in 1999 to promote the development of smart weapons, the National Rifle Association backed a boycott that led to a drop in revenue.

In 2014, German company Armatix launched a smart .22 caliber pistol, but it was pulled from stores after hackers discovered a way to remotely interfere with the gun’s radio signals and fire the gun using magnets when it should have been locked.

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