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US’ first biometric gun to reach buyers this month

The United States is about to receive its first home-made biometric “smart gun.”
US’ first biometric gun to reach buyers this month

Colorado-based startup Biofire says that it will begin shipping its fingerprint and facial recognition-equipped handguns by the end of March. But the smart weapon maker will still face resistance among gun rights advocates who claim that the technology is unreliable and that smart guns are a backdoor to controlling firearm ownership in the U.S.

The Biofire Smart Gun was designed to prevent unauthorized use by validating user identity, reducing accidental shootings by children, teen suicides, theft and criminal use. Firearms are the leading cause of death for children in America.

The company’s CEO and founder Kai Kloepfer told NBC News that the complexity of the smart gun is equal to a “small satellite.” The firearm allows up to five authorized users, disabling the trigger mechanism after it leaves their hand. The biometric sensors do not work if the users’ faces or fingerprints are completely covered as it is intended for home use, according to Biofire.

The product has been tested for conditions such as different temperatures and sweaty hands. However, since the U.S. does not have a federal product safety regulation for firearms, there are no industry standards to test biometric weapons. The handgun meets consumer product safety requirements as well as individual states’ handgun safety standards, the firm says.

The 9 mm handgun is also the first to rely on an electric signal to fire the bullet, instead of a physical trigger mechanism, differentiating it from standard firearms with biometric sensors. The system relies on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Biofire says that one charge can last several months with average use and can continuously fire for hours. The gun is also completely isolated from any connections with no Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or GPS, dispelling concerns that the smart guns could be disabled remotely.

“It’s just a very, very different approach and one that has involved rigorous testing and validation of every single piece of the system,” says Kloepfer.

The handgun is selling for $1,499, more than twice as expensive as regular guns. Biofire claims that it already has thousands of customers but has declined to share specific numbers. The first batch will be shipped to investors, friends and company connections.

Smart gun technology used to be considered uninvestable among venture capitalists as many VC firms face restrictions in categories such as weapons. Biofire, however, has had several rounds of investments over the past years. CEO Kloepfer notes that the change in VC investor attitudes is due to the rise of investment in defense technology startups, TechCrunch reports.

In February, the company announced it raised $7 million in Series A extension. Before this, the company raised $14 million in its A series funding round and $17 million in seed funding from different backers.

In order to succeed, however, Biofirewill still has to learn how to navigate the U.S.’s complicated relationship with guns.

President Joe Biden has advocated in the past that all guns sold in the country should have biometric safety measures. The state of New Jersey has also introduced a law requiring gun dealers to offer smart guns once they are available on the market. In response, gun ownership advocates have banded to prevent attempts to sell smart guns in the U.S., including by sending death threats to stores that would stock them.

The company has been attempting to avoid the ire of gun enthusiasts by opposing requirements mandating smart guns as well as New Jersey’s Childproof Handgun Law.

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