A US man who survived a gunshot to the mouth as a teenager has invented a trigger lock device that prevents firearms from being fired unless the owner uses their fingerprint to verify their identity, and he is hoping that this could solve the gun control crisis affecting the US.
The Identilock system was developed by Omer Kiyani, a manager at a large Detroit automobile company who turned inventor in 2008 after hearing about the endless series of tragic accidental shooting deaths in the US. Identilock completely covers the trigger of a gun with a portable clamshell lock that uses biometrics and will only open when a set of authorised fingerprints touches it.
"I'm a parent and a gun owner. I wanted something to protect my children from the gun I bought to protect them," Kiyani told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "I see a picture of a kid who shot themselves, and it blows my mind. I have a solution."
The idea of using biometrics technology to secure guns in order to prevent children handling guns and teen suicides is not new, but usually these guns have the technology built into them, and they might work only as long as the smart gun's batteries are charged, or as long as an accompanying smart watch, for example, is in range. Also, Fortune points out that people in the US who approve of guns don't see anything wrong with the guns in existence today, and dislike any technology that might limit gun usage.
Instead, Kiyani's solution is portable and removable, and it is bulky, which means it can be used to lock almost any handgun, so in essence, the system is more like a mobile gun safe than a smart gun.
Obama wants smart gun technology to be developed
President Obama is also keen on introducing smart gun technology as a way to reduce gun violence, and has tasked federal agencies with developing viable smart gun technology.
"If we can set it up so you can't unlock your phone unless you've got the right fingerprint, why can't we do the same thing for our guns? If a child can't open a bottle of aspirin, we should make sure that they can't pull a trigger on a gun," he said on 5 January in an emotional appeal at the White House.
According to a CNN/ORC poll from December 2015, 48% of Americans said they were in favour of stricter gun control laws, while 51% were opposed. In politics, 74% of Democrats are in favour of stricter laws, but only 23% of Republicans feel the same way. Among those who live in households with guns, only 29% favour stricter laws, while 65% of people who live in households with no guns approve of tighter gun control regulations.
The Identilock system will be launched commercially in summer 2016. It was developed thanks to a $100,000 (£69,000) grant from the Smart Tech Challenges Foundation and a first round of venture capital manufacturing, and Kiyani will be pursuing a second round of venture funding this year.