San Francisco

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee Makes Push For Smart Guns

The issue of gun violence brought together lawmakers and city leaders from around the country Tuesday, including San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.

The gathering was in Washington, D.C., to aid White House efforts to reduce widespread gun violence by keeping firearms out of the hands of the wrong people. Lee, however, actually advocated for increasing the use of one type of gun - smart guns - and pushed to make San Francisco the testing ground for such weapons.

"We want to be one of the first cities in the country where our own police department would like to be a test bed for the rest of the country so we can test the technology, make sure it’s safe, make sure it’s smart," Lee said. "And then be able to proliferate that."

While there are no smart guns currently on the market, the technology is inspiring people of all ages. Kai Kloepfer, 19, began developing a smart gun when he was 15. Using a 3-D printer, Kloepfer is making a smart gun that would activate by fingerprint and then lock when the user loses their grip or sets it down.

"I’m actually about a little less than a month from my first live-fire working prototype," he said.

"I personally don’t want to live in a world where toddlers could find firearms and not even knowing what they are, could end up killing themselves or end up injuring other members of their family," Kloepfer said.

Kloepfer said he met with former San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr a couple of months ago, and they agreed smart guns could save officers' lives.

"Because if they drop the firearm or if the firearm is ripped out of their hands, it’s completely locked and unusable," he said.

It would also render stolen guns useless, an important factor considering the hundreds of firearms that have been stolen from law enforcement in the past decade, including about 10 from the San Francisco Police Department.

Kloepfer said he's about a year away from finishing his smart gun. His biggest hurdle, he said, is not the engineering - it's persuading people that smart guns are not gun control.

"They function exactly like a regular firearm," he said. "They don’t allow the government to track it, know who is firing it – none of that info is stored. The owner has full control over their firearm. We’re trying to create a product that helps the owner secure their own firearm."

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