WASHINGTON - A James Bond-style "smart" gun which can be fired only if the user is wearing a special watch has gone on sale in the United States, according to American media reports.
Supporters say the new technology could revolutionize the gun industry and comes amid a new push for controls on weapons. The German-made Armatix iP1 and the watch have electronic chips inside which communicate with each other. The watch is activated by a pin number and if it is close to the weapon a light on a grip turns green and the gun can be fired. Armatix uses RFID chips, which can also be found on anti-theft tags attached to expensive clothing.
The latest development has echoes of the most recent James Bond film Skyfall where 007's gun is equipped with palm print technology. It recognises Bond as the owner - and it does not work when it falls into the wrong hands. The Armatix handgun is seen as a landmark in the effort to reduce gun violence.
US Democrat Senator Ed Markey wants to make sure handguns sold in the US can only be operated by "authorised" users, it was pointed out. He is planning to introduce a bill requiring new handguns to be fitted with personalisation technology within two years.
Markey also wants older guns to be retrofitted within three years so the firearms will not work for unauthorized users. The bill includes exemptions for antique guns as well as military arms. He said: "No one wants children to get access to a handgun and hurt themselves or others.
"This is the type of gun safety legislation that everyone - regardless of political party or affiliation - should be able to support." But critics claim the new technology is unlikely to stem gun homicides, which often occur between people who know each other. And they also argue that personalisation will have no effect on the more than 300 million guns in circulation.
Armatrix’s iP1, a .22-calibre pistol, has gone on sale in California and is priced at $1,399 -- plus $399 for the watch. A .40-calibre Glock handgun can be bought for about $600. However, gun club owner James Mitchell, who is selling the iP1, told The Washington Post: "It could revolutionize the gun industry."