California passes smart-gun law

Published 22 April 2008

Several companies are now working on embedding palm biometrics security mechanism in guns: The gun grip will store the image of the owner’s palm, and the gun will unlock only if the image of the palm holding the gun matches the stored image; California wants this mechanism in all guns sold in the state

How do we keep kids from firing guns by mistake, or crooks from using stolen guns to hurt people? New biometric technology will soon make this a reality, and lawmakers in Sacramento, California, are planning ahead. Several companies are now working on putting biometric images of hands into the grip of the gun — and only the person whose palm image matches the images stored in the gun would be able to fire it. “If the person is not recognized, the gun would not be unlocked. So the gun would not fire,” said Ho Chang from Nanoident Biometrics. Chang came to Sacramento assure lawmakers that smart guns are no longer fiction. The Public Safety Committee of the California Assembly last Tuesday moved to require every gun sold in California to have this biometric system once it is developed. “We think it’s a reasoned approach to look at new technology that actually might make these dangerous products safer for all Californians,” said Assemblyman Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord).

DeSaulnier thinks applying the biometric technology to weapons would prevent kids from accidentally pulling the trigger and stop thieves from using stolen guns. Gun groups, however, say it was irresponsible for the committee to pass a bill requiring technology that does not exist and has not been tested. “The last thing in the world you want to do is put a computer on a gun. What happens when the battery goes dead? What happens when the computer software fails? All of us have seen the blue screen of death on our PC’s,” said Ed Worley from the National Rifle Association. New Jersey passed a similar smart gun requirement in 2002. California’s proposal sets a deadline of 2014. If the smart gun is not on the market by then, the law would become void.