When Lenin said this, he was probably referring to guns of his time, but with present day guns, the number used in quote can be increased. History of arms and ammunitions is as old as the history of mankind itself. Sticks and stones were the early forms of weaponry prehistoric man used. Humankind advanced, so did its weapons. Early weapons required a great amount of human intervention but that is not the case with modern guns and weapons. Modern weapon system can take care of most aspects of human intervention; let it be an automatic rifle that can load the next round automatically or a modern missile system that can follow a moving target until it is hit.
In the subsequent sections, will talk about how modern weapons, specially guns have become more and more technologically advanced as well as fatal and how biometric technology can be the safety we need in present day guns.
Government red tapes are not enough when it comes to guns
You may not be allowed to buy an RPG or missile, but it is pretty much easy to get a small firearm for yourself, especially if you live in one of those countries that consider having guns a fundamental right. While it sounds very fair, empowering and democratic, it has a dark side that costs nothing less than human lives. Process of legally allowing people to keep guns tries to make sure that the applicant has a clean history. Government agencies perform thorough background check and look for criminal history of the applicant. If everything looks good, permission to keep or carry a gun is granted. The process looks fair enough to keep firearms away from wrong hands, however, wrong hands too are least interested in this way of getting firearms.
Criminals, terrorists and other anti-social or anti-national elements get their guns illegally. They loot them, steal them or buy them with illegal means. Once they have their hand on firearms, they are free to use them the way they want. This freedom to use firearms poses a great threat to civil society and the life of law abiding citizens.
Modern day firearms: lighter, more accurate and deadlier than ever
Technology has taken the ability of the modern day weapons and firearms to the next level. Now we have unmanned drones that can be controlled remotely and used to take on enemy without any risk. Modern missiles can dodge radars and even anti-missile systems. Small firearms like pistols and rifles are also getting increasingly accurate and powerful leveraging modern technology. TrackingPoint Inc., a precision optics technology firm, showed in a YouTube video that how a 12 year old child can hit targets at hundreds of yards using their gun precision technology. Now you don’t need to go through navy seal training to take a long distance shot, use of right technology can do the job.
Gun manufacturers are also using all sorts of technological means to make guns more affordable, more accurate, and more efficient. Modular and collapsible guns have become a standard in present day firearms. They are lighter, quieter and more dangerous than ever. Firearms parts are being designed using nano-technology and laser 3D printing with great precision that produces extraordinary results. Combining polymers with nano particles and different ceramics produces a material that can disperse the shock of the weapon keeping hands steady and precise.
Gun violence, history that keeps repeating itself
The way incidents of gun violence are taking place around the world and specially in the U.S., it looks like history keeps repeating itself so quickly. An incident of gun violence takes place, victims and their families suffer, people and media go hue and cry, government, as usual does not do much. In some days people forget, until such an incident takes place, again. Sometimes the next gun violence incident takes place even before the previous incident is forgotten. It has become a repetitive process.
Despites the several talks, demonstrations, lawsuits and efforts, government could not bring any powerful law for gun control. In recent history, Obama administration emphasized on electronic gun safety. In a series of measures aimed at reducing gun violence, Obama directed the Departments of Defence, Justice and Homeland Security to “conduct or sponsor research into gun safety technology that would reduce the frequency of accidental discharge or unauthorized use of firearms, and improve the tracing of lost or stolen guns.”
Why is gun safety important?
Guns and firearms can be dangerous to human lives if handled improperly. There have been several incidents in which guns were fired by kids accidently and lives were lost. There have also been numerous incidents of gun violence around the world. It is important to keep guns secure from unauthorized access as it can pose threat to human lives. Since guns have possibility to trigger accidently, they need to be stored safety. People may use guns irresponsibly in a hostile situation, kids can fire them accidently and they can be fired mistakenly, that is why gun safety is essential.
Other than safe storage, guns should have inbuilt locking mechanism to protect irresponsible usage of guns if they get into the wrong hands. Unlike large weapons, which require authorization and access codes to fire, most small firearms do not make use of them. Most small firearms do have a safety switch but it does not require authorization, anyone who knows its functionality can switch it on or off.
We know about America’s love for guns. It is hard to know the exact number of guns in circulation in the country but as per some estimates, now there are more guns in the United States than people. In 2009, number of guns surpassed number of people and it keeps growing. In 2013, there were 40 million more guns than people. The United States is the only country in the world in which there are more guns than people and it is a scary truth. There have been several incidents in the past have and they keep repeating, despite that government does not want to impose gun control because gun manufacturers have powerful lobby in the systems and it is a one of the industries government gets heavy revenue from.
Gun safety has always been ignored by gun manufacturers
Technology has improved all aspects of human lives and fire arms too are not an exception. Modern guns are so light that even a teenager can fire them and so modular that they can be accommodated in a box and taken anywhere without even leaving a clue. Despite all technological advancement of modern firearms, safety aspect has always been ignored. Gun manufacturers will rather invest in making their guns more accurate or lightweight than making them safe or adding an electronic gun lock. Issue of gun safety is not something new.
Despite the ignorance of manufacturers, researchers have been working on it for decades to find the best balance of security as well as convenience. A gun safety measure should be good enough to keep the gun safe from accessing or discharging it. Gun locks like trigger locks, chambers locks, cable locks and more recently biometric locks are being used for gun safety.
NIJ (National Institute of Justice) has already recommended a technology based approach to improve gun safety concluding its study on the matter in 1995. The study considered incidents of gun grab in police encounters, in which assailants took police guns in possession to threaten or shoot at police officers. In recent history, similar recommendations of electronic gun safety again emerged under president Obama’s administration.
Biometrics for gun safety
As we discussed above about NIJ and government’s interest in technology powered gun safety, biometrics is being worked for the purpose. Fingerprint is a practical choice as guns are hold in hand and it is easy to put finger on the sensor than scanning eyes or face. Present day fingerprint sensors are more compact than ever and are being successfully used for laying security in devices like smartphone and portable computers. They are also being used for high security banking and financial transactions to authenticate user identity. Modern guns are getting increasingly compact and fingerprint gun safety.
Fingerprint gun safes and cabinets
Biometric fingerprint gun safes can make sure that no one else other than the authorized user can access the gun. It also keeps the kids secure from accidental usage. These small safes can be conveniently opened just with a finger scan for quick access during emergencies. There is no need to waste time in looking for keys or other means of opening the safe. Gun safes uses inbuilt battery to power the fingerprint scan and lock-unlock mechanism, however, a hidden keyhole is also provided to replace dead batteries or to bypass the fingerprint security if the need arises.
Biometric fingerprint trigger lock
Unfortunately, most efforts in this direction are yet to touch the grounds. They are limited and yet in pre-production or R&D stage. Identilock, however, is a biometric gun lock that is commercially available.
Though biometric fingerprint technology has been considered for guns’ safety switch, leveraging it for the millions of guns already in circulation is a problem. It can be used as an inbuilt feature on a newly produced firearm but using the same ability on existing ones is the challenge. Identilock demonstrated a biometric fingerprint trigger lock that requires a user to authenticate with fingerprint before unlocking the trigger. This firearm safety device is can store up to 3 fingerprints of the same of different users. Identilock exposes the trigger when an authorized fingerprint is scanned. Being an external device, Identilock can be used on any gun.
Biometric fingerprint safety: the best a gun can get
We all know how fingerprint access works in offices and other commercial outfits. We also have seen its usage in logical access on smartphones and computing devices. If you have it on your phone or tablet, chances are you have used it for authenticating a transaction other than just unlocking the phone. Fortunately biometric security is not bound to a particular use case and it can be customized for any purpose. Securing access to firearms or its functionality should be the first priority of gun manufacturers, unfortunately it is not. Technology is leveraged for making guns deadlier rather than safer. Gun manufacturers will rather invest in developing computerized, laser-based rifle scopes that turn amateurs into master snipers at 1,200 yards, than a “smart gun” technology that limits a firearm’s use to its rightful owner.
Despite the trend, biometric is the best technology for firearm safety. It needs no external mean like code or key to unlock the safe or trigger. Fingerprint scan instantly unlocks the gun in an emergency.
Gun safety Teen suicides and accidental shootings are a growing problem; on the other hand incidents of intentional mass killings are also skyrocketing. There have been several incidents around the world and especially in the United States of America, in which guns were used for mass shooting and costed several lives. Victims included man, women and even school going kids.
Technological advancement is being leveraged by gun manufacturers to make guns deadlier than safer. Traditionally several methods are used for gun safety during storage including trigger locks, chamber locks, cable locks, etc. Now biometric fingerprinting is increasingly getting attention for gun safety. Biometric fingerprint safes are already popular, newer inventions like Identilock are paving the way to biometric gun safety.