RELEASE: Jon Baron Proposes $100 Million Prize Competition to Make Guns Safer in MD 

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Jon Baron Proposes $100 Million Prize Competition to Make Guns Safer in Maryland 

Competition incentivizes “Smart Gun” technology; could prevent more than half of school shootings and many needless deaths from stolen guns. 

Bethesda, MD (June 8) – Today, the Jon Baron and Natalie Williams for Maryland campaign proposed a prize competition of $100 million to be awarded to the first company that develops a Smart Gun technology that is safe, reliable, seamless to the user and cost-effective. 

Smart Gun technology uses biometric data such as a fingerprint or palm print – or radio-frequency identification (RFID) transmitted by a ring, watch or other device – to unlock a gun for its legal owner or other authorized user. The gun is inoperable in the hands of all other users, much like a stolen iPhone. 

The majority of U.S. school shootings in recent decades have been carried out by youth who obtained their gun from the home of a parent or other close relative, rather than purchasing it on their own, according to careful analyses. Smart Gun technology would have rendered these guns useless in the hands of the shooter. The technology could also stop most child firearm accidents, suicides using another person’s gun, and countless crimes committed with the 380,000 guns stolen each year. It would also prevent the 10% of police deaths that occur when an officer’s own gun is stolen during an altercation. 

The development of Smart Gun technology is supported by more than a 2-1 majority of U.S. gun owners and of all U.S. adults. The technology is nearing market, but is not yet proven to meet the highest standards of safety and reliability in real-world application. 

The $100 million prize competition is designed to greatly accelerate the development, testing, and commercial use of Smart Guns. The prize would be awarded to the first company to develop a Smart Gun technology that meets the highest standards for safety, reliability, and ease of use, as determined through independent testing overseen by Maryland law enforcement officials and firearm experts. It would also need to be reasonably priced. 

For the winning company, Maryland would commit to $100 million in Smart Gun purchases for law enforcement and rebate incentives for current gun owners to trade in their traditional guns for Smart Guns. Like New Jersey, Maryland would also require all gun retailers in the state to make at least one Smart Gun available for purchase. We would also welcome a partnership with other states and/or philanthropic organizations to expand the scope of the competition.

What Others Say About Incentivizing Smart Gun Technology: 

2016 Report of the Obama Administration’s Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Defense: 

“For more than two decades, the federal government and the private sector have grappled with a basic question of firearm engineering: Can modern technology make guns safer—or “smarter”—without sacrificing the reliability, durability, and accuracy that owners expect from their firearms? The technology holds great promise …. Federal, state, and local governments can support this effort in two ways: by lowering the cost of bringing new technology to market, and by exercising their collective purchasing power, where appropriate, to spur development.” 

Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence: 

“Smart gun technology has clear potential to prevent gun deaths and thefts.” The Giffords website offer policy options including: 

● “Incentives are provided to encourage research, development, and commercial sale of personalized firearms and gun safety technology. 

● Standards are set for personalized firearms, and personalized firearms are tested and approved by a certified independent lab before they may be sold in the jurisdiction.” 

Everytown for Gun Safety: 

“A personalized—or “smart”— gun is a firearm that employs authorized-use technology, like the thumb scan or passcode available on many smartphones, to turn stolen guns and guns accessed by children into harmless pieces of steel. If widely implemented, it would be a game-changer for keeping guns out of the hands of children and criminals.”

Jon Baron is available for comment — please


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