'"If we can set it up so you can’t unlock your phone unless you’ve got the right fingerprint, why can’t we do the same thing for our guns?'
President Barack Obama’s question, in a January 5 address on gun violence, echoed the myriad 'if we can put a man on the moon'-style complaints we’re all familiar with — the ones that have bemoaned our failure to solve various stubborn social problems ever since Neil Armstrong’s foot touched the lunar dust.
In this case: If we can put a computer in everyone’s pocket, why can’t we do something about the 300,000 gun deaths in the U.S. over the last decade, or figure out how to make the 300 million guns at large in the country a little bit safer?
Obama’s query was also a nod to the tiny cadre of entrepreneurs and inventors who are developing 'smart guns' — guns engineered to be less likely to cause unintentional or undesirable harm. Smart gun proponents aim to call a technological truce in the United States’ perennially overheated gun debate and apply some good old basement-inventor know-how to the issue. Theirs is a determined effort, but to date an ill-starred one: For two decades, as the gun-violence toll climbed and the gun debate raged, the smart gun effort has only sparked and sputtered."