How many gun-related casualties must occur before America does something about the crisis? Are smart guns the answer? Many people believe they are the solution, while others wholeheartedly disagree. Nonetheless, something must be done to solve this ever-increasing crisis.
Statisticians estimate there were 20,138 firearm deaths — excluding suicides — in 2022. This statistic reflects a slight decrease from the previous year, which saw a record number of gun deaths. However, suicide by gun has steadily risen since 2006. Based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) provisional data, in 2022, there were more suicides than homicides, 26,993 to 19,592, respectively. Some experts say smart weapons would decrease the number of suicides and unintentional shootings.
According to The Trace, the “suicide rate has more than doubled among Black, Latino, and Asian teenagers, while it increased by 88% for Native Americans, and 35% for Caucasian teens.”
They further report that American teens used a firearm to take their lives every seven hours from 2019 through 2020.
Furthermore, according to Johns Hopkins, 486 people died from unintentional firearm injuries in 2019. These account for 37% of nonfatal gunshot wounds but less than 2% of all firearm deaths. A 2019 study showed the most common unintentional gun death is playing with a gun (28.3%), believing the firearm was not loaded (17.2%), and hunting (13.8%).
How Smart Guns Can Help
Everytown Research & Policy defines smart guns as personalized firearms that use authorized-use technology, like a thumb scan or passcode available on many smartphones. Advocates believe that this type of weapon would revolutionize the industry.
Additionally, Everytown says, “Authorized-use technology and other basic…measures like loaded chamber indicators, magazine safety disconnects, and other features designed to prevent a child from operating the gun should be incorporated into new models of semiautomatic handguns to help prevent firearms from being unintentionally fired.
Only three states have adopted policies to require new handgun models to have childproofing features. They are California, Maine, and Maryland.
On the other hand, the National Rifle Association (NRA), a conservative-based organization, rejects the view that smart guns could save lives. Its spokesperson, Lars Dalseide, complained that smart guns “do not perform as well and are less reliable than firearms currently available to the public.”
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
The Hartmann Report: Chapter 29: Well-Regulated Smart Guns Are Here; By Thom Hartmann
EFSGV: Unintentional Shootings
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Still Ringing the Alarm: An Enduring Call to Action for Black Youth Suicide Prevention
Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAP): Smart Guns: Technology That Can Save Lives; By Marissa Edmund
The Trace: Gun Violence in 2022, By the Numbers; By Chip Brownlee
Readers Digest: Guns in America: 16 Charts You Need to See; By Dave Saldana
NBC News: Will a ‘smart gun’ finally make it to market? By Jordan Winters and Ken Dilanian