Are 'smart guns' the answer for improved policing?

"Smart guns" are back in focus with recent stories of LEOs being shot by their own guns. But questions remain on reliability

By Police1 Staff

WASHINGTON — Ahead of a conference on ‘smart guns,’ a small survey of police officers shows some LEOS are interested in firearms that can only be operated by the authorized user. However, concerns remain about how secure smart guns are in light of recent hacks of the firearms.

Of the 400 law enforcement professionals surveyed, 84 percent indicated that gun grabs are a primary concern, while 27 percent of respondents had actually experienced a gun grab firsthand. 

In this photo taken April 7, 2016, Jonathan Mossberg, whose iGun Technology Corp. is working to develop a
In this photo taken April 7, 2016, Jonathan Mossberg, whose iGun Technology Corp. is working to develop a "smart gun," demonstrates the firearm, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane)

The survey, administered by the King County (Wash.) Sheriff’s Department, found 29 percent of the professionals who took part had a “very strong/extreme interest” in smart guns. 

LE professionals from the sheriff’s department, the Seattle City Police Department and the Montgomery County (Md.) Department participated in the survey. 

One issue the survey did not raise is the concern about hacks of smart guns. The Armatix IP1 smart gun says it will not fire unless it’s in range of a watch that transmits the signal to unlock the gun. But last week, a hacker named “Plore” detailed how to hack the gun — using store-bought magnets — and bypass the watch.

He said he was able to use the $15 magnets to remove the metal plug that locks the firing pin, CNET reported. The plug is usually removed by an electromagnetic signal transmitted from the watch, but it’s easy to duplicate by holding the magnets to the pistol at a certain angle.

He said the simple hack shows how smart guns are still “immature.” Armatix, the company who developed the smart gun, told CNET that they spoke with Plore in April, but the hardware flaw can likely only be fixed with a recall. 

The results of the small survey of LE professionals are being presented at the Law Enforcement and Smart Gun Symposium in D.C. 

Leave a comment below: What are your thoughts on the effectiveness of smart guns?

Editor’s note: This story has been modified from its original form as a news release. We have removed the news release in its entirety and instead quote portions in the article.

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