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4 Ways Tech Can Make Guns Safer

Last month's tragedy in Newtown, Conn., stirs debate about smart technologies that restrict the circumstances in which guns can be fired.

With gun control policies on many lawmakers' priority lists in Washington D.C., some observers feel that technology should figure prominently in the debate.

Already in broad use to provide a measure of security in accessing restricted areas, smartphones and cars, features like grip pattern detection store information on a gun owner, keeping anyone other than that person from firing the weapon. According to a report in the Huffington Post, this technology can store data on more than one person when the weapon is shared, like in cases of law enforcement or the military.

Safe Zones
Irish company TriggerSmart has patented a childproof gun that can be remotely disabled in restricted zones like schools and airports. Recently mentioned in the New York Times, the weapons use RFID technology to disable guns entering designated areas.

Location Awareness
Existing GPS technology could allow guns to know their own location and whether another gun is in close proximity. In an opinion piece for CNN, Jeremy Shane, who served in the Justice Department under President George H. W. Bush, explained that leveraging this kind of software could keep a shooter from unleashing multiple shots into crowded public spaces or discharging a weapon when no other guns are nearby.

Target Recognition
Shane also suggests employing vision and optical sensing technology now being used for military and medical purposes. Sensing technology could then prevent the gun from being fired if a child is at the other end of the barrel.

"Technology cannot end depravity or violence, but it can limit the evil a person can inflict on others," Shane said.

Noelle Knell has been the editor of Government Technology magazine for e.Republic since 2015. She has more than two decades of writing and editing experience, covering public projects, transportation, business and technology. A California native, she has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history. She can be reached via email and on Twitter.