The politics around firearms with personalized authorized user recognition technology have been hairy over the years, and they may have just gotten hairier.
So-called "smart guns," which typically are designed to lock out firearms to access with an exception of those who are somehow biometrically paired to it, have largely been in the realm of spy movies and science fiction flicks.
The reality of such tech working in real life, as seen in the past with widely derided guns such as the $1,800 .22 LR Armatix, has been underwhelming or perennially "just two years away."
We here at have been covering the smart gun beat for well over a decade and have found them a misfire, despite millions in federal R&D grants handed out by Uncle Sam since 1994.

As far back as 2013, observed, "We’re not opposed to the idea of a gun that will always work in the right hands and will always fail in the wrong, but it’s imprudent to say that this technology has been proven, or even exists."
Now, a Colorado-based company called Biofire has announced it is in the stage of taking orders for a working 9mm smart gun.

"We engineered the Biofire Smart Gun so that you never have to choose between safe storage and instant access," says the company, which uses both a rear-facing camera for facial recognition and a fingerprint reader to match the authorized user to the gun. "Enroll multiple users, personalize your settings, and store it close to hand. Your Smart Gun will always be ready when you are, and locked for anyone else."

Working on the concept for a decade, the company said they made the gun after conducting hundreds of interviews with gun owners. 


Biofire is taking deposits for guns set to ship in 2024, with price ranging from $1,499-$1,599 depending on the variant.


Biofire smart gun
They will be offered in different colorways and with custom serial numbers and up to three years of "Biofire Care," which sets up the question of needing a protection plan for the electronics package in your pistol. (Photos: Biofire).

They are not vaporware at this point, with Ian McCollum at Forgotten Weapons going loud with a pre-production prototype.

As noted by McCollum:

Obviously, there is a wide skepticism about this sort of technology in firearms, and I shared this skepticism when I first spoke with Biofire. The situations in which biometric ID systems could become a liability seem too numerous to count. What convinced me to give the pistol a closer look was Biofire's explicit focus on a particular target market where the technology fills a very real gap in current options: home defense for those with children or other people regularly in the household. For that situation, one must choose between an array of flawed options - trigger locks, rapid access (hopefully) safes, or keeping a gun separated from its ammunition. The idea of having a gun which can be left loaded and immediately accessible but only usable by a few specific individuals is an appealing one.

The political pitfall

In the past, smart guns have always been politicized.

Pushed hard by the anti-gun Clinton and Obama administrations, pro-gun advocates naturally took an opposing view toward any mandate for such technology. In the meantime, lawmakers on Capitol Hill repeatedly introduced failed legislation that would have required all handguns manufactured in, sold in, or imported into the United States to incorporate smart gun features.
New Jersey lawmakers in 2002 went so far as to enact a personalized handgun law that mandated a three-year countdown to forbid the sale of all legacy handguns once a viable smart gun was available for retail sale. Seen as detrimental to smart gun development, it was largely repealed in 2019 with the blessing of the controversial mandate's author.

Firearms industry trade groups have long had a position that they are not opposed to authorized user recognition technology being applied to a firearm or to the further development of smart guns – as long as it is not made a requirement by lawmakers. However, gun makers stress the market for such guns doesn’t exist.

Three years ago, a Ruger shareholder report said that customer feedback showed “very little interest” in smart guns, while American Outdoor Brands Corporation, then-owners of Smith & Wesson, issued its own shareholder report that explained the company “does not believe that current authorized user or ‘smart gun’ technology is reliable, commercially viable, or has any significant consumer demand.”

The National Shooting Sports Foundation points out that, “Gun owners already store their firearms to prevent their access by those who should not have them. They follow safe handling and storage practices which are set forth in the owner’s manual provided with each firearm. They don’t see a panacea in smart gun technology, nor should proponents or policymakers.”

As for Biofire, it has taken a stance against government regulations aimed at required smart gun use.
"Biofire is and always will be against smart gun mandates, and we will fight against any future legislative mandate attempts," said the company on Thursday. "We’re proud of the Smart Gun we’ve built, but we believe that everyone should have the right to choose the firearm that fits their needs."
Nonetheless, Everytown, the national anti-gun group backed by billionaire gun control champion Michael Bloomberg, this week responded warmly to the news of Biofire's Smart Gun coming to market – which the group says it has tested.
"The introduction of a smart gun to the consumer market is proof that, despite what legacy gun manufacturers may say publicly, the technology to accurately detect an authorized gun user is not only possible, it’s here already,” said Nick Suplina, Everytown's Senior Vice President of Law & Policy. "Smart guns can ensure that guns are accessible by their owners and no one else. Gun manufacturers now have a viable road map for innovating towards safety — and it’s on them to act."
As part of his platform for the White House in 2020, Joe Biden said he wanted to put "America on the path to ensuring that 100% of firearms sold in America are smart guns."

Not a joke. (Screen cap via Joe Biden's 2020 campaign site)


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