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

The Tube Shack breaks world record on Cowichan River

But record for length of tubes linked together still has to be confirmed

Years of ‘horrific, violent accidents’ at popular Vancouver Island swimming hole prompt plea

View Royal fire chief asks for an end to alcohol consumption at busy Thetis Lake park

VIDEO: Man found dead near Alberni teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital home to new cancer diagnostic suite

The Gordon Heys Family PET/CT Suite was unveiled at the BC Cancer Centre-Victoria

Unsealed record suggests U.S. man convicted in murder of Saanich couple left DNA on zip tie in 1987

William Talbott is set to be sentenced Wednesday in the murders of Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg

VIDEO: Young couple found dead in northern B.C. had been shot, police say

Chynna Noelle Deese of the U.S. and Lucas Robertson Fowler of Australia were found along Highway 97

City of Victoria plans workshop to determine fate of Sir John A. Macdonald statue

Conversations will happen as part of a reconciliation dialogue series in May 2020

Latest plan is to fly trapped fish by helicopter over Big Bar slide

Multi-pronged plan set in motion to freesalmon blocked by landslide in the Fraser River

Family of missing B.C. senior with dementia frustrated with situation, heartened by community support

Nine days since Grace was last seen the question remains: ‘How can an 86-year-old just disappear?’

Hatley Gardens at Royal Roads, now free to public

1,500 plants recorded in Colwood garden, including 1,000-year-old Douglas Fir

Okanagan Air Cadet challenges gender-exclusive haircut policy

Haircut regulation inspires challenge around gender identity

B.C. Ferries crew member’s medical emergency causes cancellations on Nanaimo route

One sailing from West Vancouver and one sailing from Nanaimo cancelled Monday

VIDEO: Bystander training gains traction as tool to prevent sexual harassment, violence

Julia Gartley was sexually assaulted after an event, and no one stepped in to help

Two brands of ice cream sandwiches recalled due to presence of metal

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued a recall on Iceberg and Originale Augustin brands

Most Read