WDAY: The News Leader

Published May 16, 2013, 10:05 PM

“Smart Guns” could bring new wave for safer gun control

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - A new chapter is about to begin in the fight toward gun control in the U.S. Legislature. This one would be entitled "New Age."

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - A new chapter is about to begin in the fight toward gun control in the U.S. Legislature. This one would be entitled "New Age."

It wouldn't ban guns, rather require new ones that can actually recognize its owner.

The smart gun is the latest topic to stir up the polarizing gun control debate. The last five months have really been a scare to gun owners, prompting a nationwide sprint to buy new guns also causing a shortage of ammunition. The Police Chief in Proctor, Minnesota is even asking citizens to turn over their ammo for the department to use because it’s running out.

The question is will smart guns be the answer some lawmakers are looking for?

The only time many of us have seen a gun that recognizes its owner, is in the latest James Bond movie. A grip sensor so precise only 007 himself can fire it. It could soon jump out of the big screen and into reality.

Researchers at the New Jersey Institute of technology have been zeroing in on a grip-recognizing gun.

Michael Recce, Associate Professor/NJIT: "You don't have to do anything different. You just fire the gun. It also works with gloves on. When the gun is sitting still it's locked. It's only unlocked for that split second that you're pulling the trigger.”

For years multiple companies have been honing this idea of a "smart gun." Most are using radio frequency technology. A chip is put in a ring or a watch like you see here. Believe it or not it could even be put into your hand and to fire that weapon, that chip needs to be right by the trigger.

It's these kinds of smart guns that'll be part of upcoming legislation. Democratic lawmakers are trying to require all guns to be smart guns within two years, with the older guns being grandfathered in.

Studies show more than 200,000 guns are stolen every year in the United States. Proponents say smart guns will fix that, because they'd be useless in the hands of a thief, also wouldn't work in the hands of a child or anyone else not set up for the weapon.

This technology was even part of President Obama's 23-point plan to reduce gun violence.

North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp was one of four democrats to reject the latest gun control measure in the U.S. Senate. And she says if this proposal for smart guns makes it that far, she'll vote against this too.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, (D) North Dakota: "A lot of people aren't convinced that the technology is sophisticated enough to do what they actually want to do and again I think there would be no reason to limit what could be available in the open market place saying it has to be limited to a smart gun."

The smart gun proposal is expected to be heard soon in the U.S. House, so we'll find out if this talk about technology makes its way from the big screen to our everyday lives. Until then, Bond keeps his supremacy of cool over the rest of us.

It's debated how much costs a smart gun adds to a regular gun. Those radioactive guns would likely be $200 to $300 more. And they're gaining popularity in Europe, but as of now no demand in the U.S.