Americans Doubt Reliability of 'Smart Guns'; Won’t Buy Them and Oppose Their Mandate, NSSF Poll Finds

NEWTOWN, Conn. — By a wide  majority, Americans are skeptical of the reliability of technology intended to prevent  all but authorized users of a firearm from being able to fire it. They also say  overwhelmingly that they would not be likely to buy such a so-called “smart  gun” and overwhelmingly oppose any government mandate requiring the use of this  technology should it become available.

These findings  were the among the results of a national scientific poll of more than 1,200  Americans conducted in October by McKeon & Associates and released today by  the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the  firearms and ammunition industry. Although attempts to develop and market  firearms equipped with authorized user recognition technology have been  discussed for many years, the topic has been revived in recent months by some  gun control advocates, remarks by President Obama and by the depiction of a  smart gun in the latest James Bond movie.

Asked  “How familiar are you with efforts to develop a firearm that will only fire for  a specific authorized person(s)?”, only 20 percent of respondents said they  were very or somewhat familiar with the concept of “smart gun” technology. When told that such firearms would  incorporate biometric or radio frequency identification (RFID) with an  activation system that would rely on battery power, 74 percent of respondents  said that these firearms would not be reliable at all or very reliable. Only 16  percent thought “smart guns” would be very or somewhat reliable. Some 10 percent responded “don’t know.” Gun owners overwhelmingly (84%) believed a smart gun  would not be reliable, while a clear majority (60%) of non-gun owners also  believed they would not be reliable.

To the question, “How likely would you  be to purchase a gun with smart gun technology that prevented it from firing  except for specific authorized users?” an overwhelming 74 percent of  respondents overall said that they would not buy or would not very likely buy  such a firearm. Only 14 percent of those  polled said that they were very or somewhat likely to purchase a “smart gun.”

Some 70 percent of the survey sample  also said that did not believe that government should mandate that all firearms  produced incorporate “smart gun” technology should it become commercially  available. Only 17 percent approved of a  mandate, while 13 percent didn’t know.

The poll conducted Oct. 7-8 has a margin  of error of +/- 4.1 percent. Respondents self-identified as 25 percent  Democrat, 23 percent Republican and 52 percent independent. As to ethnicity, 70  percent of respondents said they were Caucasian, 14 percent African-American, 9  percent Hispanic; and 7 percent, other. As to age, 17 percent of respondents  said they were 18-30; 28 percent, 31-45; 33 percent 46-60; and 21 percent, 60  or older.

“The National Shooting Sports Foundation  does not oppose the development of owner authorized technology for firearms  and, should such products come to market, individuals should be able to decide  for themselves whether they want to purchase them. However, we do oppose legislative mandates  that would require manufacturers to produce only such firearms,” said Larry G.  Keane, senior vice president and general counsel. “We commissioned this poll to  help determine where Americans stood on this issue. We are not surprised, frankly, to find that the  majority of those polled were skeptical of this technology, although the  margins were perhaps higher than even those of us familiar with the arguments  would have expected. We are encouraged  by the fact that seven out of ten of those surveyed did not believe the  government should mandate the “one-size-fits-all” approach of so-called “smart  gun” technology.


About NSSF The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 8,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers. For more information, log on to

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