A handgun upgraded with Biofire’s fingerprint scanner. The firearm remains inoperable unless it is being held by the owner or a nominated person. (Courtesy of Biofire)

Guns could use smartphone-style fingerprint locks in near future

Startups looking to outflank traditional gun manufacturers using tech knowhow

Small tech start-ups are taking on the big firearms manufacturers, developing smart guns that could save lives.

The United States leads the world in civilian gun ownership, with about 393 million weapons, or 46 per cent of the entire world’s civilian inventory. In an entrenched public debate about gun ownership, nimble tech companies have emerged looking to upgrade guns with technology so that they only shoot when operated by the owner or a nominated person.

ALSO READ: Coroners use new tool to crack mystery of the floating feet in the Salish Sea

Canada has tighter gun control laws than the US but has suffered rising gun thefts and a mass shooting, in recent years.

Personalized units, known as smart guns, could offer an effective compromise between gun enthusiasts and those who view firearms as weapons best suited to theatres of war.

Biofire, based in Boston, is developing handguns equipped with fingerprint sensors embedded in the grips. Currently, they have produced a proof-of-concept unit from off-the-shelf components and plan to bring products to market within 18–24 months.

Biofire Founder, Kai Kloepfer, hopes to reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused either through accidents or by criminals accessing firearms.

ALSO READ: Coroner service launches interactive unidentified human remains tool

“Your fingerprints are scanned quicker than you notice and the firearm stays unlocked for as long as you’re holding on to it. The moment it’s put down or taken out of the owner’s hands it will be locked and unusable. In a large way like a car or a cell phone works, it’s unlocked when you’re using it but its locked when you’re not by default, which is a very big shift from the way firearms are today, where anybody who has access to it can use it.”

Tracey Wilson, the “Gun Goddess” of the Canadian Coalition of Firearm Rights says guns in Canada are a parliamentary right and not a constitutional right, making the debate less fraught. However, she questions if adding complex technology would hinder functionality and maintenance.

“If one of my firearms malfunctions I take it to an expert to service, so I think it would be difficult for gunsmiths across the country to properly maintain and repair people’s firearms.” She adds, “I understand they’re trying to find a solution to a very complex problem, but at the end of the day the focus needs to be on crime.”

ALSO READ: Police to sweep minor auto accidents to side of the road, get traffic moving

This view is why companies like Biofire are reluctant to bring a product to market until it is almost 100 per cent reliable. While mainstream firearms manufacturers have historically shown a reluctance to invest in smart guns, the desire for them appears to be there. A 2016 John Hopkins University study found almost half of American gun owners would consider buying a smart gun, and companies like Biofire hope to capitalize on this.

Kloepfer predicts that as the industry develops, smartgun technology will become available to gun buyers beyond the US, including Canada.

“There’s a healthy amount of skepticism, but we’re excited to show everybody that it is possible to integrate technology into a handgun and make it as reliable, if not more reliable than it was without the technology,” he says.

For more information on the tech behind the developments visit biofire.io.



nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

UPDATE: Father on trial for murder describes being ‘tackled’ and ‘stabbed’ in Oak Bay apartment

Oak Bay father takes stand in his defense for December 2017 deaths of young daughters

Province rejects criticism from Saanich councillor over McKenzie Interchange

Transportation ministry says project will ‘significantly lower’ greenhouse gas emissions

Police rule out foul play in death of man found in Saanich

The B.C. Coroners Service will now conduct an investigation

West Shore RCMP snag suspected thief with bait bike

GPS-equipped bike leads police to arrest suspect in Langford

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of Aug. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Should there be a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers?

We’ve all heard them, and most likely cursed them under our breath.… Continue reading

Striking Western Forest Products workers could lose benefits in September

Union, forest company at odds over Vancouver Island benefit payments as strike enters third month

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Forests minister visits B.C. town rocked by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

B.C. music teacher accused of sexual misconduct involving girls

Police believe other victims could be out there after the arrest of Lamar Victor Alviar

Most Read