Cincinnati Joins Consortium Advancing Gun-Safety Technology Development

If you've been working on smart gun technology, the consortium may want to purchase your idea and bring it to market.

Apr 28, 2021 at 9:30 am
A gun lock - Photo: Atlantist studio/Adobe Stock
Photo: Atlantist studio/Adobe Stock
A gun lock

Toledo and Cincinnati officials are leading the Gun Safety Consortium, a group of cities across the United States that is calling on the gun industry to bring improved gun-safety products to market.

Gun-safety advocates point out that most smartphones are more secure than firearms. Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley said "smart" gun technology could help prevent the availability and access to guns that would otherwise, at a moment's notice, lead to fatalities.

"We've confiscated thousands of guns over the last year, and that is working and bringing down our homicides," he said. "Having said all that, the vast majority of inner-city violence is happening by lost or stolen guns, usually out of a glove compartment."

On Tuesday, the coalition formally issued a request for proposals for more and better products they can test to help keep guns safe and secure. Cranley noted that since last year, police officers also have begun evaluating emerging gun-security products while off duty.

The consortium will act as a product development accelerator of sorts, exploring and advancing safety technology ideas and bringing them to market. Cranley said that the government buys four out of every 10 guns in the United States, so the consortium wants to fund and purchase ideas that police, military and individuals can adopt.

"Smart gun technology is a consumer option that doesn't exist now and needs to exist," Cranley said. "When you combine military and law enforcement, it made sense that we could have a consumer revolution. A public sector's buyers ought to organize and leverage our buying power."

Right now, smart gun technology doesn't exist on the market, said Daryl Green, chief of the Lansing (Michigan) Police Department. But the consortium is eager to accelerate products that police officers have been testing, in addition to finding new, in-development products.

"Each one of the four products we've been looking at will be a good thing to have on store shelves, but what we're trying to move to now with the release of the RFP is a full scan of the market, " Green said. "So whether you're a global gun manufacturer or a startup in your garage or basement, we want you to bring us what you've got. If you've got a product that can help gun owners secure their firearms, we want to know about it. We want the opportunity to fully evaluate it, and we may want the opportunity to purchase it."

Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz said the coalition was formed from the perspective of harm reduction.

"We know we're not going to eliminate gun violence in the United States with this initiative, but we're going to reduce it," he said. "We're not going to save every life that is lost to gun violence in this country, but we'll save many lives. Just because we can't do everything doesn't mean we should do nothing."

After decades of federal inaction on gun control, said the Rev. Richard Gibson of Greater Cleveland Congregations, local cities, counties and states have an opportunity to take the reins.

"We're bringing all the collective power we can to assemble, to attack this problem in a new and productive way," he said.

Research has shown that more than half the nation's gun owners do not store their guns securely, and an estimated 400,000 guns are stolen — from homes, cars and businesses — each year. More than 1,500 Ohioans died by gun violence in 2019, according to the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence.

Kapszukiewicz said that the consortium is advocating for consumer products, not pushing new gun control laws.

"There's not going to be a bunch of laws and restrictions. That's not what we're doing," Kapszukiewicz said. "We're trying to create a market that will promote the kind of responsibility that we think can make a difference."

"People are going to say, 'Hey, what about personal responsibility?'" Kapszukiewicz continued. "We think good technology can encourage more personal responsibility."