September 19, 1996 in Nation/World

Lawmakers Hail Invention Of ‘Smart Gun’ Weapon Being Made For Police Can Be Fired Only By Its Owner

Associated Press

House lawmakers unveiled a high-tech “smart gun,” being developed for use by law enforcement officers, which can be fired only by its owner.

The .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol, being developed by Colt’s Manufacturing Co. Inc., uses radio-frequency technology to block an unauthorized person from firing it. Experts estimate one in six police officers killed with a firearm is shot with his or her own weapon taken by assailants.

“What we’re trying to do is reduce those risks,” Rep. Steven Schiff, R-N.M., told a news conference.

“It is not enough to be tougher on crime - we have to be smarter,” said Rep. Patricia Schroeder, D-Colo. “Crime-fighting technology is not just for James Bond. It should be available to our cops on the street.”

Schiff and Schroeder, both members of the House Judiciary Committee, were joined by Reps. Sam Gejdenson and Barbara Kennelly, both Connecticut Democrats. Colt’s is based in West Hartford, Conn.

Sandia National Laboratories also released a study on “smart gun” technology conducted with a grant from the National Institute of Justice, research arm of the Justice Department.

“There’s still work that needs to be done,” said Doug Weiss, a researcher with the lab’s power electronics and custom controllers department.

Doug Overbury, Colt’s vice president of engineering, said the firearm developed by the company would be ready for use by law enforcement agencies in about three years. The possibility of sales to the general public hasn’t been examined, he said.

Overbury said the technology add about 50 percent to the cost of a firearm. The prototype, for example, would cost around $900, compared to $600 for its corresponding conventional model.

A receiver inside the gun’s magazine picks up electronic signals from a transponder worn by the user inside a wristband or ring.

© Copyright 1996 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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