Though it’s been around for decades, smart gun tech has only recently burst onto the national stage and into the spotlight. And now the U.S. Department of Justice has released its final version of its smart gun guidelines, reinforcing recommendations it made back in June. For the first time, the National Institute of Justice has released a final version of “baseline specifications” outlining “a detailed description of the minimum technical requirements that law enforcement agencies expect from smart gun technology.”
The operative word, however, is “expect” — indeed, these guidelines are entirely voluntary, and as the Department of Justice wrote in a blog post, “This project was designed to spur the growth of enhanced gun safety technology — and not to mandate that any particular individual or law enforcement agency adopt the technology once developed.”
That said, the DoJ notes that its newly released specifications are meant to serve a number of purposes; for example, to “provide clear guidance to potential manufacturers about what government purchasers require in their firearms,” as well as “serve as a standard against which existing technology can be measured, making it possible to identify what research and development gaps remains.” And perhaps most importantly, the Department believes that its new guidelines may “allow federal, state and local governments to demonstrate that demand for smart guns may exist.” Ultimately, the goal in releasing the documentation is to expedite the real-world deployment of smart gun technology, advancing the safety of Americans everywhere.
So what’s in the actual guidelines? Much of the documentation outlines what smart guns cannot do, like impair operation or increase the time needed to draw, holster, or fire the piece. The specifications also point out that smart guns must be able to disable their firing mechanism if operated by an unauthorized user.
The specifications emerged from President Obama’s January directive to combat gun violence, and the DoJ has regularly looked into smart gun technology over the course of the last month.