After the 2012 Connecticut school shooting, many advocates pushed for guns that could be fired only by their owners. More than five years later, Silicon Valley investors have shied away from the idea for political reasons.
After the deaths of 20 children in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting, Silicon Valley set out to make safer, technologically advanced weapons that could be fired only by their owners. Venture-capital luminary Ron Conway, known for his investments in Google and PayPal, led the charge, raising millions for grants aimed at jump-starting the smart-gun industry. Five years later, the smart gun has stalled in Silicon Valley, the Wall Street Journal reports. No smart gun has been brought to the market and most of the handful of startups are struggling. The Smart Tech Challenges Foundation, founded by Conway to give grants, brought national attention to the issue, but is now having trouble raising money.
The Florida high school shooting that left 17 people dead in February has led to a renewed interest in finding ways to cut gun violence. Smart-gun evangelists hope to capitalize on the movement. The firearms industry and Silicon Valley investors have shied away from smart guns for political reasons. “The gun industry is not fond of [the smart gun] because it’s change, and Silicon Valley isn’t fond of it because it’s guns,” said Jonathan Mossberg, former executive at shotgun maker O.F. Mossberg & Sons, whose effort to produce a smart gun has stalled. For decades, firearms companies have refused to sell smart guns because of glitches in some early models, as well as a backlash from conservative gun-rights activists, who fear the technology will prompt states to mandate it broadly. The activists say their fears were confirmed by a 2002 New Jersey law requiring all handguns for sale in the state to have smart-gun technology once it became available.