Sen. Ed Markey Wants Guns to Have Owner Recognition Technology

He said he plans to introduce new legislation that would make a protective measure mandatory for manufacturers.
Photo via Sen Ed Markey on facebook

Photo via Sen. Ed Markey on facebook

Referencing the latest James Bond film, U.S. Senator Ed Markey said he wants to bring technology to the table when it comes to talks about gun safety.

On Wednesday, during a meeting with residents and grassroots organizers in Roxbury, the state elected official announced that next week he plans on introducing new federal gun legislation that would require all firearms manufactured in the U.S. to be equipped with “personalization technology,” so that if a weapon lands in the wrong hands, it can’t be fired.

Markey sat with members of Mothers for Justice and Equality, Project R.I.G.H.T., and other organizations to talk about the proposal he will bring to the Senate floor, called the Handgun Trigger Safety Act, and what can be done to reduce the number of accidental and fatal shootings across the country. “In the 21st century, we should use advances in technology to our own advantage and save lives, and the Handgun Trigger Safety Act will help ensure that only authorized users can operate handguns. This is the type of gun safety legislation that everyone—regardless of political party or affiliation—should be able to support,” he said.

The technology could include fingerprint recognition, or safety systems like the Armatix iP1, referenced in Markey’s proposal, which relies on a radio-controlled watch that is responsible for gun access and use.

If passed, the law would also require anyone selling a handgun to retrofit their weapon with personalization technology three years after the date of enactment of the bill. The entire proposal can be read here.

City Councilor Michelle Wu was also at the meet-up and announcement about the proposed law. “Having federal legislation would be a great help to local efforts. Some of the major problems we are dealing with are guns flowing across state lines from other states that don’t have as protective laws, and guns being used in crimes that were stolen,” said Wu. “Using the technology to individually identify weapons and link them to their rightful owners could help solve these crimes.”

Wu said some of the key takeaways from the meeting with Markey were discussions around the need to address gun violence as a public health crisis, and designate increased funding for gun violence prevention programs and studies. “An important piece that the technology and this legislation would serve is the impact of making it harder for someone to use an illegally obtained gun,” said Wu.

Boston in particular has been hard hit with an increase of shooting-related deaths this year, prompting a reaction from Mayor Marty Walsh and other city leaders who called for a gun buyback plan.

A task force also recently convened on Beacon Hill to introduce ways the state could implement new laws and regulations to quell the uptick of gun-related incidents in Massachusetts as a whole.

While the introduction of the technology Markey wants to require on guns sounds like something from a sci-fi flick or a Blockbuster spy movie, some companies in the U.S. are already testing it. A company called Safe Gun Technology, or SGTi, has been working on a product that could do just that. Relying on biometric technology, people would be unable to fire a weapon unless they were the owner.

Markey’s idea is also similar to one that Warren Tolman, candidate for Attorney General, talked about late last year, which he wants to roll out specifically in Massachusetts.

Tolman said by having firearms equipped with a feature that would require the shooter to place a finger on a pad in order to recognize them before the gun could be fired, it would “take the guns out of the hands of criminals who steal them,” and keep children that get ahold of weapons safe. “Just as your fingerprint can be used to unlock your iPhone, fingerprint technology can be used to operate firearms. Doing so would ensure that a firearm could be operated only by its rightful owner or designees. Gun manufacturers have the technology to do this today,” Tolman wrote in an op-ed for the Globe back in December.

After Markey met with constituents, Tolman applauded his plan. “Senator Markey deserves credit for putting the spotlight back on safer gun technology and increased gun violence research,” Tolman said. “We should be doing everything in our power to prevent more lives from being taken by gun violence. That is why on day one as Attorney General, I’ll use the authority of the office to require fingerprint trigger locks on all new firearms sold in the Commonwealth.”


Steve Annear Steve Annear, Digital Writer at Boston Magazine sannear@bostonmagazine.com


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