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BOULDER, Colorado — A high school student recently built a prototype of a gun that fires only in the hands of an authorized user, garnering him $50,000 for future development.
Earlier this year, Kai Kloepfer, 17, from Boulder, Colorado, participated in an innovation challenge through the Smart Tech Foundation, a group dedicated to producing firearms that require electronic identification before use. Kloepfer took home the grant money for his fingerprint handgun design, and is working on making his prototype a reality.
After seeing the shooting at an Aurora, Colorado, theater in July 2012 over the news, Kloepfer felt motivated to design a gun that would need special technology to work in the hands of an approved user.
Using grant money from Smart Tech, Kloepfer plans on building a working handgun using a 3-D printer utilizing his fingerprint-reading technology to create a "firearm who knows who's firing it," he said.
A functioning biometric-access firearm would prevent firearm discharge by unauthorized users, such as children, people attempting to commit suicide, and people untrained to use the weapon.
Smart guns have come under fire in recent years from gun right activists. The National Rifle Association posted an article on its website in November 2013 citing skepticism for guns that would require electronic identification to operate.
“NRA does not oppose new technological developments in firearms. However, we are opposed to government mandates that require the use of expensive, unreliable features, such as grips that would read your fingerprints before the gun will fire,” NRA leaders said.
The Smart Tech Foundations, in a mission statement, maintains that a smart gun, such as the one Kloepfer designed, has the potential to save lives.
“A functioning biometric-access firearm would prevent firearm discharge by unauthorized users, such as children, people attempting to commit suicide, and people untrained to use the weapon,” Smart Tech said in a statement. “Kai’s biometric sensor can be programmed to authorize up to 999 users and boasts a 99.99 percent success rate — even with partial prints.”