The Madness of Guns and the Digital Cure

But what about mass shootings? The tragedy in Newton, Conn., the latest in a string of incidents, highlights the complexities of the problem. Law enforcement and legislators, community members and advocacy groups, are all debating legal remedies, but tech has yet to play a role in the conversation. Nobody expects innovation to curb the mass shootings. But it can help to prevent and solve some aspects of the problem.

President Obama, in his State of the Union address, touched on “common sense initiatives,” so we looked at some tech advances that offer a glimmer of promise to improving public safety, if not the way we think about it in the future.

The Future of Smart Guns

In mass shootings, shooters aren’t often the licensed owners of the guns they use. One solution would be to develop “smart guns” that only fire when literally in the hands of its owner. The idea dates back to 1994, when the Justice Department looked at developing a gun for the police that criminals can’t use during a struggle. That idea expanded to keep guns from firing in the hands of children.

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Early prototypes used biometric measurements — like your fingerprints or grasp — to authenticate you. But models today embed Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID, chips that activate when a special ring or wristband is nearby.

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