Sixteen electronic computerized sensors embedded in the gun’s grip distinguish known from unknown users.
As shots rang out, the action demonstrated that the smart gun knew friend from foe.

Sixty people crowded last week into a small room at the Bayonne police firing range to witness smart gun technology. Donald H. Sebastian, senior vice president of research and development at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), stood near an oversized screen displaying a real-time video of an NJIT policeman shooting an experimental handgun in an adjacent indoor range.

Since 1999, Sebastian has led the project based upon Dynamic Grip Recognition, a technology invented by Michael Recce, PhD, associate professor of information systems at NJIT. Since June of 2004, five members of the NJIT police force have been trained to use the test gun and be recognized. Ultimately computerized sensors in each gun will record data on dozens of known users while also blocking unauthorized users.

The project has the enthusiastic backing of Sens. Frank R. Lautenberg and Jon S. Corzine. In addition to proudly witnessing the technology, the pair announced last week that, once again, they had secured $1 million in federal funding for the project. Last year, they secured a similar amount. The funding was included in this year’s U.S. Department of Justice budget. Reps. Robert Menendez and William Pascrell, who have also supported the research and sought federal appropriations, also spoke, as did NJIT President Robert A. Altenkirch and Bayonne Mayor and State Senator Joseph Doria, an early New Jersey legislative supporter.

Under New Jersey law, passed in Dec. 2002, only smart guns can be purchased in the state three years after personalized handguns become commercially available. Lautenberg said New Jersey’s legislative effort to introduce smart gun technology should be a national model for the country. Once Congress returns to session next year, Lautenberg and Pascrell plan to introduce legislation modeled after New Jersey’s law, so families across the country will be able to ensure that guns they own will not fall into the wrong hands.

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