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Gun Control Tech Exists. But It Won’t Stop Mass Shootings

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Gun Control Tech Exists. But It Won’t Stop Mass Shootings

In the wake of the Las Vegas mass

shooting, a look at the tech that does—and doesn’t—exist to make guns more secure.

In the aftermath of mass shootings in the United States, like Sunday evening’s Las Vegas tragedy that killed at least 58 people and wounded over 500, a debate often emerges about how to prevent such incidents from occurring again. Part of that heated and longstanding gun-control battle is the question of whether technology can make guns safer. And they can—but not in a way that can prevent many of the country’s most high profile attacks.

The bulk of the technological gun-control effort lies in “smart” firearms technology. That means smart guns, which can only be fired by their owner or approved users, and smart safes and locks that can only be opened by approved parties. Those have the potential to reduce accidental shootings, and to make stolen guns less valuable. But they do nothing to prevent the legal owner of a firearm from using it in a malicious way.

While it’s unclear whether the Las Vegas shooter—64-year-old Stephen Paddock—used his own rifles in the attack, he did frequent gun shops, and could legally buy firearms. And in general, experts say that the majority of mass shooters use guns that they legally purchase, making it more difficult for smart guns and other technology to play a role in stopping them.

“Smart guns have the greatest impact around teen suicide, accidental deaths, and disrupting the stolen gun market,” says Margot Hirsch, the president of the gun safety advocacy group the Smart Tech Challenges Foundation. “We would never say that smart guns will prevent mass killings, but if we can bring attention to making our firearms safer in general then we can save a lot of lives.”

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