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.”

  • wfcollins

    This could help prevent accidental shootings, but it will not in any way prevent intentional ones. Any electromechanical device can be bypassed. Guns are here to stay. How about we start locking up violent offenders for life before they become killers?

    • Matson Law

      Accidental shootings are a real problem. I don’t know if this is a real solution, but it is worth consideration.

      • Steve

        Which “accidental shooting”, though? If you’re talking about kids shooting or getting shot by weapons left laying around, this probably isn’t a solution because someone leaving a gun laying around is probably going to leave the “key” nearby so they don’t have to fiddle with it.

        With regards to “negligent discharge”, when some mindless idiot is twirling a gun with his finger in the trigger guard, this wouldn’t do a thing. Or disassembling to clean it, while there’s still ammunition in the gun.

        • Matson Law

          The former. The stories about kids playing with guns and shooting themselves or others.
          How are little kids going to get around the biometric print?
          Maybe it is really not a practical solution, I don’t know, but it is an interesting idea.

      • Patski762

        No it isn’t. There are too many reasons NOT to consider it to even consider it.

      • Sam Spade

        Its not a solution. It is a way to back into restrictive gun control and siphon money to lumped statistical research and Eric Holder’s “Brainwash Americans Against Guns” programs.

  • Johnny

    I think we should switch to plasma rifles, in the 40 watt range. Oh wait, that technology doesn’t exist yet. Can you imagine if this tech fails? Just more BS from the gun-grabbers. Oh, this won’t do anything for crime.

  • Steve

    The only reason anyone could object to such a “common sense” measure is if they have an irrational fear that somehow this technology could fail, or be bypassed with readily-available tools. And since we all know those are impossible, that complicated electronics work perfectly, smoothly, and quickly in times of crises, everyone will back this.

    I don’t see it in this article or the proposal, but I suspect that police and military will be exempt from this requirement (as was done in New Jersey’s “smart gun” law).

    • John Susko

      “The only reason” ? “Common Sense”? According to whom?

    • Patski762

      I love your sense of sarcasm, Steve! You know it’s good when some people take it seriously.

  • zengar

    while it would be /nice/ if this were feasible, it isn’t really feasible for a few reasons, but first, Fingerprint scanners tend to be notoriously unreliable in the past, second, and FAR more importantly, is the sheer /scale/ of the issue. There is an estimated total of 310 MILLION firearms in the United States’ private sector. While it might be nice if all of them could be made ‘safe’, it is, frankly, a pipe dream to think that they can all be made ‘safe’. The sheer logistics of trying to pull it off means it’s pretty much impossible without a positively /insane/ amount of money, that could be put to much better ends, such as road safety and more rigorous driving standards, given /far/ more people die from car wrecks than guns.

  • Jack

    Its what they dont tell you. Its cost prohibitive, its a risk to firearm owners, its a rfd chip that is prone to failure and it is really used to track the location of your firearm. FU Senator you’re out of place. And you keep making these Constitutionally Infringing Bills to keep you in a job. Continued BS cycle . Try doing something right for once.

  • Jack

    Oh and GOFYSelF

  • Gigislature

    Hey Ed Markey, could we get one of those electronic devices put on your brain, or can we just tell you to put it where the sun don’t shine.

  • John Susko

    SHALL NOT INFRINGE. End of conversation.

  • Fred266

    Alabama says No,No and No!….Leave our guns alone!

  • Patski762

    What a twit! DIs he honestly stupid enough to believe this has even the slightest chance of passing The Senate, let alone getting out of committee in The House? You Massachussites really know how to pick em. Is he striving to become the Carolyn McCarthy of The Senate, a joke that no one takes seriously? Maybe it’s not an issue for him in MA, but in other states, politicians have to worry about getting re-elected. Co-sponsoring this bill would all but guarantee that won’t happen in most states.

  • vorten

    Retro fitting a third of a billion weapons is a big challenge that America is willing to do. America did not have the know how to get to the moon when the decision was made to do just that. If America just does the things we already know how to do we could never make America a better place to live.