Sometime in the next year, Philadelphia-based startup LodeStar Firearms says it will release the first commercially viable smart gun, a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun with a user-recognition lock designed to allow only authenticated users to fire it.
This sort of technology hasn’t caught on in the U.S., so it’s something of a gamble for LodeStar, which is raising $3 million in seed funding to finalize a prototype. The company is banking on being able to disrupt the firearms industry by capitalizing on an uncertain demand for gun safety features. If such advances prove popular, LodeStar says, it could lead to an industrywide evolution that would ultimately save thousands of lives each year.
LodeStar is still ironing out the specifications of its pistol; regardless of how it turns out, it won’t be the first or only smart gun on the U.S. market. Firearms manufacturers have been tinkering with personalized locking technology for decades, hoping to sell consumers on handguns that are resistant to misuse by children, thieves or assailants.