The recent tragic shooting in Connecticut has prompted me to wonder to what extent can technology contribute to keeping deadly weapons out of the hands of mentally deranged people. As an investor in ShotSpotter, a wireless sensing company that pinpoints gunshots in real time for law enforcement agencies throughout the country, I've seen first hand how technology can make our communities safer.
Below are a few ideas:
1. Instead of just requiring a law enforcement background check, states should also connect their healthcare systems to the process. Any person wishing to purchase a firearm who may have a clean law enforcement record but has a history of mental instability would be denied.
2. Guns can be made to have a biometric identification device in the grip, disabling the gun for use by anyone other than the lawfully authorized user. This would have prevented the tragedy in Connecticut, since the son apparently used the mother's weapons. Furthermore, this would also serve to increase the cost of obtaining firearms, reducing the quantity and circulation over time.
3. The Connecticut shooter matched the typical profile of this type of mass killing - a loner, man in his early 20s, with developmental problems/mental instability and with access to advanced weaponry. National or state databases could be created to profile and highlight such potential high risk persons in order to perform outreach and develop ways to mitigate risks.
These are but a few ideas and they no doubt have their downsides. As we move past the emotional response to this tragedy and begin the hard work of crafting sensible policies and capabilities, I'm convinced that the convergence of data and device technologies can play an important part in making our communities safer.