We incessantly discuss gun control, argue on social media, and try to grasp why this keeps happening — why our children continue to get shot in what seems like a weekly occurrence. And yet, even with major technological strides that could solve several issues here, gun culture still hasn’t changed.
There’s currently a gun for every man, woman and American child floating around out there and gun sales have soared in the US for the past several years, despite the 142 school shootings since Columbine.
And after all that, The President finally proposed just days ago that background checks should focus more on the mentally ill. Yes, I know “2nd Amendment, we have rights!” Here’s the thing, we actually have technology in place via so called “smart” or “cyber” guns already available that could prevent a lot of these shootings from ever happening. And the NRA is trying to stop it.
Silicon Valley’s own well-known angel investor and gun reform advocate Ron Conway offered $1 million in funding via
X Prize the Smart Tech Challenges Foundation earlier this year. The first ever cyber gun went on sale in the US this last February.
The German-made Armatix iP1 is a Bond style .22 calibre pistol that only shoots if the owner is wearing the accompanying wrist watch with the identifying RFID tag built in.
But just as soon as this new tech became available to increase gun safety, gun rights advocates began to protest en masse. A Rockville gun shop owner was physically threatened and actually had to bar himself in his own store to protect himself after revealing he’d be the first in the US to sell the weapon.
We can’t even get these guns in the United States at the moment because the fear of technology seems to be bigger than the fear of allowing a gun to get into the wrong hands.
We’ve been working on building better gun tech since the 90’s — guns that would be trackable, only fire by identification through a fingerprint or the grip of the owner or some other way like the aforementioned RFID tag.
One was even on the patent approval records as far back as 1982. There have been three such actual smart guns created to date. The Armatix iP1, the Intelligun pistol, by Utah-based Kodiak Industries; and iGun Technology Corporation’s M-2000 shotgun.
On the gun rights advocate side, there’s a lot of fear about these new weapons. They argue the tech would fail us in the moment or make it easier for the government to track their weapons. Sarah Palin even came out with a false statement that the government was trying to make every gun owner wear a wrist watch to identify themselves.
There’s currently not a centralized database of just where all the guns are and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives can’t even keep track of the dozens of their own, government-issued guns at the moment.
So angry young men continue getting easy access to guns we can’t track because one of the most powerful lobbies in America is afraid of technology and progress. President Obama even pointed out this week that Congress can’t seem to pass a watered-down gun control law. As quoted on PolicyMic when referring to the Sandy Hook shootings:
“I will tell you, I have been in Washington for a while now. Most things don’t surprise me. The fact that 20 6-year-olds were gunned down in the most violent fashion possible and this town couldn’t do anything about it was stunning to me,” he said.
And the American people, after every single shooting continues to say “something must be done.” Yes, something can be done. That something, at least one thing beyond waiting for any kind of government action, is to – gun nut or not – embrace technology.
The fact is, we probably won’t get rid of guns or gun culture. This is a deeply embedded, sacredly held part of American culture that is not going away. Ever.
Guns are here and there are a lot of them. Stopping them from ending up in the wrong hands is nothing short of a huge undertaking. But we do have the technology in place to put a stop to these evil, psychotic murderers.
What we need is for the NRA to stop freaking out over their precious gun rights being taken away and start realizing that it’s not worth bashing technological advances over the prevention of the next, inevitable mass shooting. We do not need one more dead American child.