Academic journal article The Journal of High Technology Law

Triggered: Mass Shootings, Smart Gun Technology and the Search for Solutions

Academic journal article The Journal of High Technology Law

Triggered: Mass Shootings, Smart Gun Technology and the Search for Solutions

Article excerpt

I. Introduction

April 2, 2018. (2) Five teenagers are featured on the cover of TIME magazine. (3) They stand for unity of a generation. (4) They stand in defiance of preventable national tragedies. (5) They stand for one, clear message: Never Again. (6) America has more guns than people. (7) Gun violence plagues this country, however, guns remain among the least regulated type of property. (8) In certain jurisdictions, legally obtaining a gun is easier than getting a driver's license. (9) Yet, five teenagers, as representatives of an entire generation, are thrust into the spotlight. (10) Why now, are their voices being heard?

February 14, 2018. (11) A 19-year-old student steps out of an Uber in Parkland, Florida with a black duffle bag and a backpack concealing a legally purchased assault rifle and ammunition. (12) He walks into Marjory Stoneham Douglas High School and fires the weapon, systematically murdering 14 of his fellow students and 3 of his faculty members. (13) In the days and weeks following the shooter's arrest, the students of Parkland rose up together in solidarity to advocate for increased regulations on firearms. (14)

October 1, 2017. (15) On the 32nd level of the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, 23 high-powered firearms strewn on the floor. (16) Below, fifty-eight people are dead, and over 500 are injured. (17) Each weapon was purchased legally, including the revolver that the shooter used on himself after he carried out the most devastating modern mass shooting in the United States of America. (18) None of the weapons that were used in this mass shooting were smart guns; even if they were, fifty-eight people would still be dead, over 500 would still be injured, and Stephen Paddock would still go down in history as the man who covertly planned and executed the bloodiest mass murder in this country to date.

November 5, 2017. (19) David Kelly walks into the First Baptist Church in rural Sutherland Springs, Texas. (20) He leaves the house of worship with 26 church members dead in his wake and 20 wounded. (21) Kelly used a semi-automatic assault rifle. (22) These three incidents, although close in time and similar in result, were different in many ways. (23) The one commonality: each tragedy featured destructive weapons that were not smart guns. (24)

Smart guns are firearms that are equipped with safety technology to only fire when operated by an authorized user. (25) Some smart guns use biometric security measures, which utilize unique characteristics, like a fingerprint, to authorize use of the device. (26) There are also smart guns utilizing radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, which locks the firearm unless it is in proximity to a remote, similar to the iPhone unlocking a user's Apple Watch. (27) Other smart guns are incorporating new technologies like blockchain to keep an electronic record of use occurrences. (28)

Smart guns have been proposed as a viable solution to curb gun violence in the United States. (29) However, smart gun opponents argue that high-tech weapons constrain their Second Amendment rights, while offering only the illusion of security. (30) These critics claim that the sophistication of smart guns lead individuals into believing the gun is safer than it is. (31)

Mass shootings are defined as any shooting where four or more persons are killed or injured. (32) While mass shootings are only responsible for 1.5% of gun deaths in the United States, recent events have called for legislators and activists alike to present and fight for preventative measures. (33) The Second Amendment is not an absolute right. (34) However, every state is bound by the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution to enforce public safety as a right for its citizens. (35) This balance between limitations and constitutional rights is blurred where smart guns are concerned.

This Note will examine: 1) smart gun technologies employing biometric security functions, RFID and blockchain security systems on firearms; 2) their impact on mass shootings; and 3) what implications this could have on the Second and Fourteenth Amendments. …

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