U.S. Congressman Jim Himes (D-4th) last week introduced a bill that would encourage “smart gun” technology, an idea he advanced during his re-election campaign last fall.
The Start Advancing Firearms Enhancements and Technology (SAFETY) Act provides incentives for manufacturers and consumers that would promote the development and purchase of smart-gun technology such as biometric or fingerprint locks and radio-frequency identification.
Each year, 115,000 Americans fall victim to gun violence – more than 36,000 fatally, a press release from Himes said. Of the 300 million-plus guns in the U.S., there are 350,000 thefts reported each year, 80% of which are never recovered, and 10% to 15% are later used in crimes.
“We must approach the challenge of reducing gun violence in our communities from multiple angles,” Himes said. “The SAFETY Act promotes the kind of technologies that prevent guns from being fired by anyone except their lawful owner. That will mean fewer tragic accidents involving children who get their hands on guns and fewer crimes involving stolen guns. Universal background checks can help keep dangerous individuals from purchasing guns in the first place, but the SAFETY act will prevent violence down the line — in the hands of either innocents or criminals. Increasing incentives for producers and purchasers to buy guns with these smart technologies will save lives.”
The SAFETY Act will increase the research and development tax credit from 20% to 30% and apply it to 100% of smart gun technology research expenses; make more small businesses and startups eligible for this credit, including those already working in the field; and exempt smart gun components from the federal firearms tax, which would lower the price for consumers buying smart guns.
Himes is also concerned about the 5,790 children in the United States receive emergency room treatment for gun-related injuries each year, with 21% being unintentional.
Himes said that recently, “police in Colorado made a determination that a gun that killed a two-year-old last year belonged to his mother. The child mistook the unattended and loaded gun for his favorite toy, a squirt gun, put it in his mouth, and fired. This completely avoidable tragedy should never be repeated. With technology in place to make sure no one but the authorized user of a gun can fire it, we can stop this heartbreaking scene from playing out again and again and again.”