Jul 29, 2016 | By Alec

3D printed guns are, by far, the most controversial topic within the 3D printing community. But now there’s at least one 3D printed firearm that everyone can approve of. It’s called the SMART 2, and it has been developed by San Diego-based startup Safety First Arms. Based on the iconic Glock 17 pistol, this 3D printed firearm features two safety measures (a PIN lock and an alarm) that makes this gun safe to keep within your home, pointless to steal and impossible for children to accidentally fire.

Those features makes it hugely attractive, as responsible gun ownership can be extensively debated as well. Regardless of where you stand on the second amendment, no one wins when the children of gun owners gain access to a pistol and shoot a sibling, for instance. While gun safes can partially prevent that problem, there’s still the issue of gun theft. More than a quarter of a million guns are stolen within the US every year, and many turn up at crime scenes.

While some people say that this is just an unavoidable part of private gun ownership, there is a solution: smart guns. Guns that, with the help of technological gadgets, make it more difficult to fire a gun without authorization or make it traceable even after theft. And Safety First Arms is not the first to look into this solution, as the Department of Justice has been calling for such innovations for years. Just earlier this year, they published a report that detailed the failure of many projects on smart gun ownership over the past two decades. “Although the reasons for terminating these projects have varied, there has been a consistent theme: the difficulty of integrating new technology into a firearm’s design without compromising its core functions,” they concluded.

But many other projects found political roadblocks, something Safety First Arms is familiar with. Cofounded by Brian Weinberg and Bob Allan, it traces its roots back to 2002 and a revolver with a trigger locking mechanism. But like many other initiatives at the time, it received blowback from the NRA and other associations. The project was eventually revived in 2012, after a third person close to Allan killed themselves with a gun. “A gun is so easy… and often it’s done with the household gun,” said Allan, an avid hunter and gun rights advocate. “I figured there’s got to be a way around this.”

What they developed was very impressive. The 3D printed SMART 2 is a sleek handgun that stands out for one significant feature: a multi-colored six-digit keypad. While it looks like something from a children’s toy, it takes care of the most problematic gun issue immediately: it cannot be fired accidentally. A pin code must be entered to fire the gun, while multiple unsuccessful attempts to unlock it lets a very loud alarm go off. “It doesn’t need to be high tech,” cofounder Brian Weinberg told Forbes. “We’re building the system to be more reliable than a (traditional) handgun. If it’s a protective weapon, what’s the good of it if it doesn’t work? The ultimate goal is to give the user more access to their firearm, but not increase the risk.”

This clever locking system is powered by a battery that lasts for two years (notifying users when just 25 percent battery life is left). Though it can also be turned off at a target range, for instance, it puts a huge barrier on senselessly firing the gun. No one can fire it by just pulling the trigger. But once unlocked, you can’t even put the gun down (releasing the grip safety) without the gun immediately locking up again. What’s more, the SMART 2 even features an optional motion sensitive alarm that prevents unauthorized handling when no pin code is entered. That means that if your son grabs the gun, you are notified immediately by the car alarm going off in your bedroom.

It’s a remarkable design that could really change gun ownership entirely. Weinberg already revealed that it’s primarily aimed at people who don’t currently own a gun because they feel it would be unsafe, and that could be a huge market. One survey found that 60 percent of Americans would prefer a smart gun when buying a new model. And for now, at least, the political climate seems to give them the space to work on their firearm. What’s more, a simple PIN lock could be more appealing than many other smart gun designs out there. Fingerprint sensors on guns are particularly criticized for possibly working badly when hands are dirty or sweaty.

But of course you do pay for this kind of security. While a new Glock 17 typically sells for about $600, the SMART 2 is expected to retail at $1,300. “It’s expensive; it’s not an every man’s gun,” said GlockStore’s Lenny Magill, the licensed gun dealer who will distribute the SMART 2. “The hardcore gun enthusiast is not going to buy this. But some people will, and that’s admirable.” If successful, the same principles could be applied to a model based on the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.

But before that point can be reached, the startup has to overcome some serious market hurdles. For it is quite difficult to bring a new gun to the market, regardless of what kind of grassroots support you can find. It can cost up to $10 million to market the SMART 2, while no crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter will go near guns. “No one wants to touch it,” Weinberg adds. Having already invested about $500,000 of their own money, they are hoping to start shipping within two years from now. If you’re interested, Safety First Arms has just opened for pre-orders.

 

 

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ben wrote at 7/30/2016 7:09:31 PM:

*cough*https://techcrunch.com/2016/01/05/why-obamas-smart-gun-push-will-misfire/*cough* Also I noticed that there's nothing in this article about being able or unable to field strip the firearm or not before putting in the pincode. If it is possible then you can disassemble the gun and remove the lock at your leisure; with an 100db alarm going off in your ear if that feature is turned on.

giterdunn wrote at 7/30/2016 2:27:15 PM:

Smart guns sound like a good idea on paper, but people who believe in this technology always miss one key, life-or-death issue: When you need a gun, even a half second matters. Having to enter a code could get you killed. Also how is this supposed to prevent suicide? Wouldn't the owner of that gun know his own code? I'm all for developing this technology, but I think it is too immature to be brought to market. What I would like to see is a gun that knows YOUR grip, either through capacitive touch screens in the grip panels that memorize the way you grip it, or some sort of soft polymer grip cover that deforms to your grip. They did get one thing right though, no finger groves!

Don in LA wrote at 7/29/2016 6:21:43 PM:

Since Hillary has called for the confiscation of all semi automatic firearms and all ARs are banned in CA. These are a solution for a now defeated problem.



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