Kai Kloepfer is a teenager from Boulder, Colorado who has officially thrown in his hand to make guns safer — by reading peoples’ hands. Kai says the desire to build a gun that could only be fired by an authorized user came to him after the shooting in Aurora (right down the street), which left 20 people dead. And Kai’s been award a $50,000 grant from Silicon Valley’s Smart Tech Challenges Foundation — one of the first to be awarded one of 15 such grants the Foundation is planning on putting out.
Let’s be clear on one thing before proceeding: The idea of using bio-scanners and electronics as a redundant gun safety device is not new. Kai says this specific design “came to him in a dream,” though the idea itself could have come to anyone from the original Judge Dredd. Remember the “Lawgiver,” the pistol that would kill any non-Judge who picked it up? Same principle, though this one simply keeps gun’s safety engaged if the wrong person grasps it, instead of blowing their arm off. Though that would have been cool, too.
The problem with these devices has always been in the implementation and available technology. Old microprocessors were slow, unreliable and energy hungry. Battery packs were heavy and needed constant recharging, and fingerprint scanners and the associated software were sketchy at best. So this is an idea that’s been waiting for technology to catch up, and the right person to implement it. Kai thinks that technology is here, and he’s in the group destined to make it work.
“It’s going to be my generation – the ones who have grown up with digital technology and electronic integration – that will lead the way in the development and adoption of smart gun technology. This type of technology has previously only existed in science fiction movies. But young people are open to exploring our options as consumers and as innovators. I have real hope that we can apply biometric technology to firearms in order to reduce accidental deaths and injuries, and to prevent tragedies.”
In one interview, Kai mentions a stunning statistic — one most of us never really think about. That more children have died as the result of accidental shootings in the last 35 years than all the U.S. soldiers who died in both Iraq wars and Afghanistan combined.A pretty sobering notion.
Kai’s design differs from older, and more failed, attempts in a few crucial ways:
- It’s relatively cheap, perhaps as little as $100 if mass produced.
- The scanner is a solid-state “static reader” type that requires no swiping.
- It’s placed where a shooter’s finger would naturally fall on the grip.
- The scanner and software react in nanoseconds to input.
- The device is 99.99 percent accurate.
- The system can work with even a partial fingerprint.
- It’s powered by a light, compact, lithium-ion battery.
- It can hypothetically be retrofitted to existing guns with an aftermarket grip.
All good things, and definitely steps in the right direction. It’s obvious we’re getting very, very close — the prototype plastic gun above works well, and Kai will be moving on to real firearms testing soon. And that’s where he might run into problems. One among a few he’s certain to encounter.
- Fine wires and circuitry never have gotten along well with bucking recoil.
- How does it work if you’re wearing gloves?
- What happens if the battery goes dead?
All noteworthy issues, but all all ultimately surmountable with the right development. Except maybe the glove thing…that might be a bit of an issue for people who carry. But for those who aren’t carrying guns around cold and windy Chicago, who are only using weapons for home defense (the way a lot of people do), then this kind of secondary safety lock intended to prevent unintentional firing could make the difference between life and death for their child.
Particularly if that child would have otherwise been one of the 7,500 or so who every year visit the hospital with accidental gunshot wounds. Which, as we mentioned in a previous article, means your child has a 6.5 better chance of getting shot than drowning, 12 times better chance of getting shot than dying by poison, and 40 times better chance of getting shot than dying by a fall. And that’s not even factoring for kids of parents who own guns. It’s just the national average.
Predictably, though, people who live in fear of invisible things (“conservatives”) have a few problems with the idea. Some, like this one, are your pretty straightforward Luddite:
And that seems pretty understandable at first. Though, as an experienced firearms enthusiast, your author would point out that the odds of any gun firing are probably no better than 99.99 percent. One misfire in 10,000 rounds? I’d buy that gun. Divide by 1,000 if you own an SA or Bushmaster.
And, additionally — the very highest end odds that anyone will need to use a gun in self defense this year are about 15,000-to-1. The odds that this device will fail you WHILE you’re relying on it to save your life…about 150 million-to-1. You’ve got slightly better odds of becoming a Yankees fan who contracts herpes and then gets eaten by a shark.
That’s actually true, by the way.
Other peoples’ concerns are a little more…esoteric. If that’s possible. Most revolve around the notion that Kai is secretly working for Obama’s Socialist Illuminati, and this is all one, big liberal plot to disable all guns with an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP. Or, that the chip will be “hackable” by police, who will use it to “turn off your gun.“
Or, as Kai Kloepfer would say:
“Uhhh…dude…I’m just trying to keep kids from getting shot.”
Alas, we may never know if Kai truly is a member of Boulder, Colorado’s insidious Junior Illuminati Officer Training Corps. We contacted JIOTC about Kai’s records, but they had us all killed with invisible drones. One thing’s for sure, though:
If kids of today keep working like this, then kids of tomorrow might just stand a slightly better chance of living to see the Antichrist’s chemtrail tornadoes.