Jonathan Mossberg is among a small number of pioneers looking to build a safer gun. But unlike many others, he was in the gun business when he started down that path.
His family is renowned for its premier line of shotguns treasured by law enforcement, hunters and the military. Mossberg already has spent more than a decade working to develop -and someday bring to the market -a firearm that the wrong person cannot fire. It is intended to work without fail in the hands of its owner in a life-or-death situation.
“We’re gun people, so we know when you pick up a gun you want to shoot it,” Mossberg said. “You don’t want to swipe your finger. You don’t want to talk to it. In an emergency situation, you want to pick it up and use it.”
Mossberg’s iGun Technology Corp, based in Florida, relies on a simple piece of jewellery -a ring -that “talks” to a circuit board embedded in a firearm to let it know the user is authorised. The ring must be within centimetres of the gun for the gun to fire.
The road to a safer gun has been long. Initial efforts encountered a public wary of the technology, but that has eased as iPhones, tablets and other smart devices have become common. Mossberg isn’t the only one attempting to bring a bit of James Bond to firearms. Others are exploring biometrics, like an iPhone lock that opens with your fingerprint. Some rely on radio-frequency identification, or RFID, technology, proximity sensors similar to the system Mossberg’s company uses. Some use watches to send a signal to the firearm. They’ve had varying degrees of success, but none has been broadly marketed so far.
On Friday , Obama announced new steps to curb gun violence, including by identifying the requirements “smart guns“ would have to meet for law enforcement agencies to buy and use them.
Mossberg’s interest in smart gun technology stemmed from a rise in police being killed with their own service weapons in the 1990s.He said the shotgun his firm is developing has been tested more than 3,000 times with no failures.