A NEW type of safety catch will prevent children from accidentally triggering firearms. The US Department of Justice and the Pentagon are jointly developing "smart" guns that will fire only when held by their legitimate user (New Scientist, Vol 142, No 1921).
Smart guns become operational only when sensors embedded in the hand grip recognise a characteristic that is unique to the legitimate user: hand pressure, temperature, palm print, fingerprints, or a combination of these. David Boyd, director of science and technology at the National Institute of Justice, feels that this innovation will help control the misuse of firearms, which is fast becoming the leading cause of unnatural deaths in the US. One out of 4 US police officers killed is shot with his or her own gun and hundreds of American children are killed while playing with their parents' gun.