As part of executive actions taken today by President Obama, federal agencies will step up research into smart gun technology.
Three agencies — the Department of Defense, Justice Department, and the Department of Homeland Security — have been directed by Obama "to conduct or sponsor research into gun safety technology," with the goal of decreasing problems of "accidental discharge or unauthorized use of firearms," according to the White House. The agencies have been given three months to create a "strategy designed to expedite the real-world deployment of such technology."
The idea behind that technology — usually called smart gun technology — has proven to have relatively simple technical answers with heated political ones. The guns, which are designed to only fire from the intended person at the intended time, have run up against controversy, with groups like the NRA arguing that the devices leave gun owners vulnerable to hackers or government control.
As The Washington Post reports, proponents of the technology are already hailing the move as a major change in the smart gun's fortunes, although the agencies still must determine what routes are available for studying the technology. In a speech announcing the executive actions, Obama said new technology would be a key factor in reducing gun violence. "We can set it up so you can't unlock your phone unless you've got the right fingerprint," he said. "Why can't we do the same thing for our guns?"