President Obama's executive orders on gun control announced Tuesday includes a big push for so-called "smart gun technology" that supporters say would limit accidental deaths and suicides from guns by using biometrics, radio frequency identification tags, and even mechanical locks.
Many of these gun technologies are already commercially available, but have been opposed by gun rights groups or gun owners in the United States. Others are still under development, such as the iGun from Dayton, Ohio-based Crimson Moon Entertainment, which tracks the gun's location if stolen.
But experts say that the president's announcement may tip the scales and result in a boost in demand for this kind of technology, especially if federal agencies or police officers begin buying weapons equipped with smart gun technology.
"We live in world that has these technologies and are accepted as being highly reliable," said Stephen Teret, director of the Center for Law and the Public's Health at Johns Hopkins University. "And they could be used in guns. The benefit would be a reduction of gun deaths."
Teret says that of the 33,636 gun deaths last year in the United States, two-thirds were the result of either suicides or accidents, deaths that could be prevented by guns that have to be authorized by an owner before they are fired.
German gun manufacturer Armatix has already developed a .22-caliber handgun that uses RFID chip on the gun that receives a signal from a wristwatch or bracelet worn by the owner. The gun won't fire without the signal, which has a 10-inch range.
The company is working on a 9-millimeter handgun, which is the most popular gun sold in the U.S.
In 2014, however, gun shop owners in Los Angeles and suburban Washington, DC, received arson and death threats after they announced they would sell the Armatix smart gun. They pulled the gun and it hasn't been offered for sale since.
Margot Hirsch, president of the Smart Technologies Challenge Foundation, which funded $1 million in smart gun research projects last year, says that the climate of intimidation may change with the president's announcement on Tuesday. The executive order directs the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security to "conduct and sponsor" smart gun technology research and development.
"The federal government is largest purchaser of firearms," Hirsch said. "There is theoretically for money for research and development. When you make a smart gun you need to make sure its reliable by building multiple prototypes."
Hirsch says there's a big demand for safe guns from gun-owning families with children. Some of the new technologies would also allow gun owners to retrofit their weapons with various locking mechanisms rather than having to purchase new ones.
The National Rifle Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation -- groups that strongly oppose the president's new gun control measures -- say on their websites that they do not oppose the smart gun technology, but rather laws making it mandatory.