Smart gun firm wants you to help fund its prototype

Safe Gun Technology turns to crowdsourcing for $50K, wants to retrofit fingerprint technology on an assault-style weapon

A smart gun technology company hopes to collect $50,000 through a crowdsourcing campaign to fund a safe weapon prototype.

Columbus, Ga.-based Safe Gun Technology (SGTi) just launched its Fund Safe Guns campaign for research and development. The company hopes to retrofit its fingerprint biometrics technology to work on an assault-style rifle.

Handgun and shotgun prototypes would follow shortly thereafter, the company said.

SGTi launched its grassroots funding campaign using Indiegogo, an international crowdfunding site. So far, the Fund Safe Guns campaign has raised $1,610, with 17 days left.

Several companies are working on smart gun technology. Last week, a Massachusetts congressman submitted a bill that would require all U.S. handgun manufacturers to include smart gun technology in their weapons.

The Personalized Handgun Safety Act of 2013 (H.R. 2005) ( download PDF) would mandate that all newly manufactured handguns be "personalized" within two years, offering a modern-day solution to the persistent problem of gun violence.

The bill, pushed by U.S. Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass), would also require that existing weapons be retrofitted with the technology within in three years before they could be sold.

Like Tierney, SGTI believes smart gun technology could save lives by restricting gun use to only authorized users. Its technology relies on an infrared fingerprint scanner to identify authorized users.

"The faster we raise the money to build a new prototype, the sooner we can bring this to market, reducing both gun violence and harmful accidents," Charlie Miller, SGTi's chairman, said in a statement.

Miller wants to begin production on his version of a smart gun within the next couple of months. His company has been working on it for 10 years, and has relied solely on private investments to date. In addition to the crowdsourcing campaign, SGTi is also seeking private investors.

SGTi already has a somewhat clunky prototype that was retrofitted on a Remington 870 pump-action shotgun. But the computer is the size of a blackboard eraser and is mounted on the side of the gun's stock.

SGTi's initial prototype used a Remington 870 shotgun and a smart gun mechanism about the size of a blackboard eraser.

An updated prototype would include new microchip technology and a flat fingerprint scanner that would be unobtrusive. The technology would be sold to gun manufacturers and on the retail market in the form of a retrofit kit for gunsmiths.

SGTi's technology uses relatively simple fingerprint recognition through an infrared reader. The biometrics reader enables three other physical mechanisms that control the trigger, the firing pin and the gun's hammer.

SGTi's technology can allow multiple controlled users to access and engage the firearm.

"There are more than 300 million firearms in the private sector alone in the United States, so we know there is a huge market for this technology," Miller said. "It has clear implications for all types of gun owners including military, law enforcement, hunters, and families."

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Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed. His e-mail address is

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