Smart Gun Innovators Fear Backlash From Gun Rights Advocates

Winners of a contest for smart gun design are asking not to be named after others in the industry received threats for marketing similar products.

Smart Gun Innovators Fear Backlash From Gun Rights Advocates
Armatix GmbH

Winners of a contest for "smart gun" designs are asking not be named out of fear of backlash from gun rights activists.

Fifteen projects won the Smart Tech Challenges Foundation's $1-million contest for developing smart gun technology, but so far only one of those winners has come forward publicly. 

For a quick refresher, a smart gun is any firearm that uses some kind of identity verification to make sure only the gun's owner can use it. They're widely touted as a safer alternative to regular guns. 

But to many gun rights advocates, the technology represents a slippery slope leading to the end of traditional gun ownership.

A blogger for The Truth About Guns reiterates a common argument: that the technology used in these weapons could malfunction, leading to a gun owner not being able to fire their weapon when they need it most.

But the bigger fear is legislative. One New Jersey law requires all guns sold in the state to qualify as smart guns once the technology becomes available, and gun rights advocates fear similar laws will follow

Advocates of smart gun technology have been harassed before. Earlier this year, a Maryland gun dealer announced he would be selling the Armatix iP1 pistol, which won't fire unless it detects a signal from a watch worn on the user's wrist.

The Washington Post reported that Maryland dealer faced such intense backlash, including threats of violence, that he decided not to even put the product on the shelf.

And The New York Times says the CEO of the company that designed the gun has faced death threats.

That's why, as The Verge reports, most of the Smart Tech contest's winners are asking not to be named. 

The one known recipient is 17-year-old Kai Kloepfer, who integrated a biometric sensor into a firearm that requires an authorized fingerprint before firing. Kloepfer received a $50,000 grant from the foundation to continue developing his product. 

This video includes images from Getty Images.