The goal of all gun laws passed post-Newtown should be to implement means of preventing similar tragedies in the future. Bloodshed occurred at Sandy Hook because of a worst-case scenario, a mentally unwell individual stealing his mother’s legally owned firearms. So the question is: What could have stopped Adam Lanza?
Mandating stricter storage regulations and banning longer ammo clips are both worthwhile Connecticut laws put into effect in response to the heinous attack. But storage rules are practically impossible to enforce on a residence-by-residence basis. (Lanza’s mother reportedly kept her gun collection in an unlocked closet.) And while smaller clips are less deadly, this doesn’t address the problem of Lanza’s easy access to ammo.
A bolder vision of safety is necessary. Today’s digital and biometric technologies could bring to guns a state-of-the-art series of safeguards considerably more foolproof than current designs. A California-based group of entrepreneurs commendably believes so.
Committed to making America more secure, the Smart Tech Foundation has pledged $1 million in prize money for inventors who could make firearms significantly safer. Upgrades imagined by the group offer immense promise. Guns with digital readers in triggers, grips and stocks that recognize only the owner’s hands or fingerprints. Firing mechanisms that only work after catching a signal from a transmitter implanted within a ring. Other smart technologies could also help limit usage of weapons to only their legal possessor.
This is a type of gun reform that does not impinge upon the right to own a firearm. Rather, it simply establishes safer practices. Digital readers could prevent a five-year-old from playing with a parent’s revolver, or a mentally unwell person from misusing the weapons of a relative. Instead of the typical practice of punishing responsible gun-owners for the maladjusted minority who commit violent crimes, these upgrades would allow enthusiasts to purchase and retain safer, high-tech items.
Regrettably, these improvements remain years away from feasibility. But for next-generation upgrades to become reality, it takes altruistic, ambitious, farsighted groups like Smart Tech Foundation. They impressively envision a future in which digital technology allows gun-owners to possess firearms without the worry of weapons being misused by other parties. This would be a welcome boost for public safety and a constructive outcome in the aftermath of Sandy Hook.