Would cash prizes entice gunmakers to invest in 'smart gun' tech?

The Obama administration plans to invite weapons manufacturers to test so-called smart-gun technology at an Army facility. Cash incentives could sweeten the deal.

Joshua Roberts/Reuters
President Obama, shown here speaking to journalism students, reiterated his dedication to promoting 'smart gun' technology on Friday.

President Obama reiterated his commitment to gun safety on Friday, calling for the spread of "smart gun" technology to prevent accidental shootings.

This technology would include safety mechanisms such as locking systems and biometrics in order to make sure only rightful owners could fire guns, preventing weapon misuse.

"Many gun injuries and deaths are the result of legal guns that were stolen, misused, or discharged accidentally," Mr. Obama said today. "As long as we've got the technology to prevent a criminal from stealing and using your smartphone, then we should be able to prevent the wrong person from pulling a trigger on a gun."

Technology that allows officials to track guns and enable smart locking already exists, according to officials. Now, Obama seeks to implement that technology widely.

The Justice and Homeland Security Departments announced today that they should be able to outline smart gun requirements by October.

The Defense Department will also support this program, hosting smart gun testing for gunmakers at the US Army Aberdeen Test Center in Maryland. The Defense Department will even offer cash prizes to gun manufacturers who test firearms through the program.

These programs by government agencies are in accordance with instructions by Obama to support and promote smart gun technology.

Last January, Obama announced a plan to expand background checks for gun buyers. At the same time, he told the Justice, Defense, and Homeland Security Departments to continue smart gun technology research.

"These common-sense steps are not going to prevent every tragedy, but what if they prevented even one?" wrote Obama on Facebook. "We should be doing everything we can to save lives and spare families the pain and unimaginable loss too many Americans have endured."

Obama also commented on the long acknowledged question of mental health and gun ownership. The Social Security Administration is expected to publish a rule that ensures that mental health records are incorporated into the background check system, to prevent individuals prohibited from buying a gun for mental health reasons from slipping through the cracks.

"Nearly two in three gun deaths are from suicides," Obama announced during a speech on gun laws in January. "So, a lot of our work is to prevent people from hurting themselves."

The White House will host a conference on gun violence in May.

This report contains material from the Associated Press.

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