In 2017 alone, 11,560 individuals fell victim to gun violence, including suicides (Basu). The effects of these tragedies extend far beyond these casualties—gun violence affects the lives of the millions of Americans who see it, know someone who has gotten shot, or those who live in fear of the next catastrophe. As the idea of gun control becomes more controversial among Americans, there is a modern technology that may satisfy both sides of the spectrum: smart guns. With the number of gun violence victims steadily increasing, smart guns are the best, most efficient way to reduce gun related mishaps: it reduces the amount of crime done with stolen guns, the number of unintentional fatalities and suicides, and the number of guns resold in the black market.
Smart guns are the best way to minimize crimes done with stolen guns. For example, according to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, from 2012 to 2015, criminals stole an estimated 1.2 million guns from police officers, licensed to carry citizens, and gun stores. 75% of the guns are in use by lawbreakers to commit petty crimes such as robbing convenient stores, or serious crimes such as gang related shootings. (Gun Violence Archive). With the new smart gun technology, the issue of crimes committed with stolen guns reduces significantly. Because smart guns have an ID authentication, it therefore would potentially end the phenomena of weapons falling into criminal hands. In addition, smart gun technology could potentially prevent mass shootings. In the wake of the Columbine High School shooting in April of 1999, Americans have increasingly demanded change with the safety in schools. In Tanya Basu’s article entitled Will this Smart Gun Solve America’s Gun Problem?, the author emphasizes that most school shootings, like the Sandy Hook Elementary school incident in 2012, are committed with guns that belong to the parents of the shooter. With that in mind, many of the tragic school shootings done with stolen guns could have been preventable, had this new smart gun technology been in use.
With the smart gun product, the guns used in school shootings would not have been able to fire, considering that the gun belonged to the parent, and not the adolescent shooter. Furthermore, smart gun technology could reduce the number of gang related homicides. Situations such as drive by shootings and robberies are typically committed with stolen guns, according to FBI reports and statistics (FBI). A recent example of a well-known robbery and shooting was the incident with rapper xxxTentacion in the summer of 2018. The alleged shooter, Dedrick D. Williams, had a history with gang activity, and obtained a gun through a former gang member. Dedrick and three other individuals shot and killed xxxTentacion with the motive of robbing him of a top-notch fashionable bag. (Nocera). Had the smart gun technology been in use, this young rapper could still be alive today. Although smart gun technology cannot completely erase the number of crimes done with stolen guns, it can prevent myriad tragedies and fatalities.
Smart guns are the best way to reduce unintentional fatalities and suicides. Across the country, there are tons of stories about children playing with their parents’ guns, and the innocent situation turning into everyone’s worst fear. In fact, in 2016, 13-year-old Juan McDowell was a victim of an accidental shooting. Him and his cousin were playing around with the family gun, and the cousin wanted to show Juan that the gun would not fire. Unfortunately, there was a bullet in the chamber and it killed young Juan instantly (Nocera). Because of incidents like this, myriad Americans are pushing for more gun safety measures, especially when it comes to adolescents and unintended, preventable fatalities. Likewise, smart gun technology minimizes the rate of suicide with the use of a gun. According to FBI statistics on suicide via firearms, as high as 718 suicides on record each year are committed by handguns that do not belong to the suicide victim (FBI). Because smart guns need a fingerprint authorization, it therefore cuts the possibility of a suicidal individual using someone else’s gun to end their lives. Instead, one with suicidal ideation would have to obtain a gun legally- a process that can take weeks. This process is time enough to ensure that the dark emotions that drive suicidal intent would dissipate and pass. This lengthy process could directly lower the occurrence of individuals creating a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Overall, smart guns are the most promising path to reduce gun violence on unintended adolescent fatalities and suicides committed via firearms.
Smart guns are the best way to reduce gun trafficking and the number of stolen firearms resold in the black market. Gun trafficking is the process by which guns enter the black market where they often end up used in crimes that threaten many lives across the country. Guns move from areas with weak gun laws into areas with strong gun laws due to inconsistent regulation. (Nocera). There is a lack of anti-trafficking laws, making it easy for criminals to exploit the system and flood communities with illegal guns. For instance, guns trafficked from the United States play a key role in arming Mexico’s violent drug cartels. FBI statistics state that 87% of firearms seized by Mexican authorities originate from the United States. (FBI). The states that border Mexico-Texas, California, Arizona, and New Mexico- have less gun laws compared to Mexico, therefore allowing for more guns to be trafficked and obtained illegally over the border. If smart gun technology were in use, the Mexican cartel would not be as big of a threat as they are now, because the stolen firearms in the black market would already have a fingerprint authentication- therefore making it useless across the border. Additionally, profuse amounts of shady dealings in the black market do not need background checks. Convicts can buy firearms without having to be concerned about their criminal record. If the firearm were to be brand new (having no previously set ID authentication), the results could be devastating due to the impure intentions of the weapon. Although the black market can make profit from illegal dealings, the potential consequences can be deadly.
Because of the countless risks that come with firearms, there is an abundance of situations that one could avoid if smart guns were in use. Whether it be unintentional or intentional shootings, gun violence brings out the worst, most devastating conclusions to solvable problems. Smart gun technology can reduce the number of stolen guns, the number of unintentional shootings, and the number of guns resold in the black market. Although the idea of gun control is still controversial among Americans, smart guns can at least push individuals one step closer to a solution to gun violence.