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Armatix smart gun tech reignites gun fight, with retailers in the middle

Lucas Mearian | May 21, 2014
Gun groups are OK with 'voluntary use' of smart guns, but they'll fight mandates

As a recent Pew Research survey revealed, when it comes to gun restrictions, the American public is split: 50% favor gun control over gun rights, 48% believe the opposite.

Smart gun tech
The iP1 semi-auto pistol is authorized for sale in several states. Along with California and Maryland, the iP1 has passed regulatory requirements in Massachusetts and New Jersey, according to the company.

An RFID chip inside of a black wristwatch — the iW1 — enables the iP1 pistol. In order for the handgun to function, the matching watch must be within 10-in of it. The pistol can also be disabled with a timer or a PIN code entered into the iW1 watch. When the wristwatch is within 10-in, a green LED light on the gun's grip indicates it is enabled. When not, the light turns red, indicating the weapon is disabled.

When the iP1 is enabled, its LED light turns green. When permission is denied, it turns red (Image: Armatix).

David Whiting, a spokesman for Armatix, said Mauch chose a .22 caliber design for the company's first smart gun because it would require smaller, more intricate components — hence proving its reliability for use in any other weapon.

"That's more difficult from a manufacturing standpoint, so if you can do with intricate, smaller parts, you can definitely do with larger calibers, such as 9mm - which they're expected to have shortly," Whiting said.

While the technology seems like something any gun futurist would crave, it has created a firestorm of controversy.

The NSSF, for example, has raised concerns about the reliability of smart gun technology, which uses either biometrics (finger print or handgrip recognition) or RFID tags, along with an activation mechanism on the weapon.

In a blog written last year, Larry Keane, the NSSF's senior vice president and general counsel, pointed out that all smart gun technology relies on batteries, and "who among us has not experienced a drained smart phone battery or had some other piece of electronic gadgetry not work, even a flashlight, fail when we needed it?"

"Most people can appreciate technology, while realizing it can let you down at the worst of times," Keane wrote.

Sebastian countered Keane's argument saying that the power required for enabling smart gun technology is miniscule, and batteries can be incorporated in loaded magazines that can rest in recharging docking stations. There are also technologies under development to use the gun's recoil action to recharge the batteries.

"I recognize the issue, but don't see it as technological show stopper," Sebastian said. "I think there are ways of addressing that issue without it becoming an Achilles heal in the process."


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