or body heat altered by stress, sweat interrupting direct connection with a device, and limited battery life. More work is needed to integrate fully functional technological solutions to particular prevention challenges, improve reliability, and ensure that these technologies are designed to reduce or eliminate the disabling of safety features by unauthorized users.

There is also the challenge of consumer acceptance and adoption of these safety measures. Safety features such as seat belts are sometimes disabled by the consumer, despite widespread public awareness of the risks. Individuals may also “offset the safety gains … by reducing precautions or taking greater risks” (IOM, 1999, p. 122). Further, due to the costs associated with performing research on new technologies and the implementation of new technologies in the manufacturing of firearms, there is the potential for higher incurred costs by the gun purchasers that may also impact consumer adoption (NAE, 2003). Table 1 includes a broad range of conceivable gun safety technologies, without regard to current technological feasibility, cost, or consumer acceptance.

TABLE 1 Gun Safety Technology: Examples

Safety Mechanical Mechanisms Mechanisms Safety levers on weapons, push-button safeties, magazine disconnects, and firing pin blocks (widely available).
  External locking devices Prevents the firing of a weapon through an external mechanism that encloses part of or the entire firearm, such as trigger locks, gun lockboxes, locking holsters, and personalized retention holsters or gun lockboxes that use biometrics (fingerprints) to identify authorized users (widely available).
  Key or combination lock A lockable gun has an integrated or internal mechanism that prevents the locked firearm from being discharged until the user is recognized. A lockable gun requires an overt action by the user to both lock and unlock the firearm (once unlocked, the firearm can be fired by anyone until it is relocked). The locking mechanism may be mechanical, electromechanical, or electronic, such as a key, combination, or access-code technology using a pin number to activate the handgun (widely available).


The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement