Let Silicon Valley Solve the Gun Violence Problem


Smart System iP1-Pistole, source: Armatix

During President Obama’s State of the Union Address on Jan, 29th, there was a shooting on the campus of Tennessee State University. We can add this to the growing number of campus shootings and incidences of gun violence in our country.

According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, In 2010, guns took the lives of 31,076 Americans in homicides, suicides and unintentional shootings.

I won’t depress you with the statistics, because there’s a long list of them that shows the U.S. has a big problem with gun violence and getting legislation passed to deal with it is tricky. It’s tricky because some people freak out at the mention of the words gun control or anything that appears to infringe upon their 2nd amendment rights.

But there is another way to get around the thorny political solutions. Let the tech geeks come up with an answer to gun violence.

This week the Smart Tech Challenges Foundation, spearheaded by investor Ron Conway, launched an initiative to reduce gun violence through innovation, instead of legislation. They think that letting the free- market come up with innovative solutions to that reduce gun violence, would provide a faster way of making America safe. In addition, you’re less likely to freak out folks worried about their 2nd Amendment rights being taken away.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Conway, an investor in companies like Google and PayPal, announced that the Smart Tech Challenges Foundation was launching the first of four $1 million challenges. The goal of these challenges is to get the tech industry to come up with safer guns and reduce gun violence.

The goal of the first $1 million challenge is to get entrepreneurs and inventors to come up with some smart tech to create owner-authorized guns. Such guns would only be useable the owner and unusable kids, thieves, etc.

Three later $1 million challenges will focus on big data approaches to smart guns, the promotion of brain health, and smart technology for community safety.

In regards to owner-authorized handguns, they would be helpful because gun safety boxes aren’t always enough to keep the wrong hands off an owner’s gun.

A study done by the U.S. General Account Office on accidental shooting found that 8% of such shooting deaths resulted from shots fired by children under the age of six.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics about 40% of inmates possessing firearms when arrested got them off the street or some illegal source. About 10% male and 13% women inmates who had firearms during their current offense acquired them via theft.

The Yardarm Solution. Source: Yardarm

The Yardarm Solution. Source: Yardarm

The technology for owner-authorized guns is already available. There’s the Armatix Smart System. It consists of a radio-controlled watch that is used to control gun access. The Smart System gun only shoots if it is within range of this watch. Then there’s the Yardarm Safety First system. It remotely connects gun owners to a sensor installed on any firearm to enable wireless, real-time control of the trigger safety, full motion detection, and geo-location tracking. Gun owners are alerted via a mobile device app if their gun is picked up or handled by an unauthorized person. Using the mobile app or secure website, the gun owner can engage or disengage the trigger safety.

In 2008 the California assembly passed a bill requiring owner Authorization of handguns. New Jersey passed similar legislation in 2002. The Armatix is already on California’s list of handguns certified for sale.

So the trend seems to already be in favor of smart guns. The companies and innovators who create the smart tech just need financial support which currently isn’t coming from gun manufacturers.

Click here to read more about Ron Conway’s press conference on the launch of the Smart Tech Challenges Foundation.

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