Smart guns had a watershed moment this week when the federal Departments of Justice, Defense, and Homeland Security released a report about the federal standards for the sale and use of “smart guns” — firearms equipped with user-authentication technology that prevents unauthorized users from accessing the gun.
President Obama first directed the agencies to produce the report earlier this year, as part of a series of executive actions introduced to reduce gun violence. The President’s actions follow growing momentum in the public discourse around ways to reduce gun violence deaths across the nation, including the role that technology can play to address this tragic epidemic.
RALLY helped bring smart guns into the mainstream during its engagement with the Smart Tech Challenges Foundation, the only nonprofit organization with the mission to promote firearms safety through technology and innovation. RALLY managed the communications and operations of the Smart Tech Challenges Foundation beginning in 2013, including launching the Smart Tech for Firearms Challenge.
The Challenge received hundreds of applications from applicants around the globe from innovators with ideas for applying user-authentication technology to firearms, and ultimately granted $1 million to the finalist innovator teams. Throughout the Firearms Challenge, RALLY raised awareness around key innovator milestones and drove conversations about the role of smart guns in preventing unauthorized firearms use, suicides, and accidental shootings.
In November 2015, RALLY’s media outreach culminated in a segment about smart guns on CBS’ 60 Minutes. Prior to their interviews with CBS correspondent Lesley Stahl, RALLY media trained angel investor and STCF Founder Ron Conway and Smart Tech grantees Jonathan Mossberg and Tom Lynch, and staffed segment shoots in San Francisco and Columbus, Georgia.
According to the new report, the Federal Government is ready to assist state and local governments as smart gun technology continues to advance. President Obama’s executive action represents the first time a sitting president has proactively supported smart firearms safety technology since the Clinton administration. And for the first time, the DOJ and DHS have committed to completing the process to define the requirements that manufacturers would need to meet for law enforcement agencies to consider purchasing smart guns — paving the way for widespread adoption.
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