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Are smart guns the answer to America's gun problem?

The White House hopes it can finally launch smart gun technology — childproof weaponry aimed at stopping accidental shootings and increasing gun safety.
A smart gun by Armatix is pictured at the Armatix headquarters in Munich May 14, 2014. (Photo by Michael Dalder/Reuters)
A smart gun by Armatix is pictured at the Armatix headquarters in Munich May 14, 2014. 

The White House hopes it can finally launch smart gun technology — childproof weaponry aimed at stopping accidental shootings and increasing gun safety.

The administration is, for the first time, trying to put in place the requirements needed so law enforcement could eventually use smart guns. It's using findings in a new report from the Defense, Homeland Security and Justice Departments — agencies that were directed in January to look into the matter as Obama advocated gun reforms.

So-called "smart guns" utilize fingerprints or wireless signals to ensure they can only be used by their owners.

An employee holds a smart gun at the Armatix headquarters, May 14, 2014. The gun is implanted with a chip that allows it to be fired only if the shooter is wearing a watch that communicates with it through a radio signal. 

"There is no problem that America's innovators cannot solve and we are confident that by focusing the private sector's attention on smart gun technology we will unlock life-saving innovations," White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett said in a blog post on Friday.

The report establishes criteria for procuring smart guns with a due date in the fall and the Department of Defense has agreed to test the technology at the U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center in Maryland. The White House will also ramp up grants to fund smart gun technology.

The White House also plans to boost funding for mental health services and engagement with state and local leaders to continue the push for gun safety.

"If we can set it up so you can't unlock your phone unless you've got the right fingerprint," Obama said in January as he unveiled executive actions on gun control, "why can't we do the same thing for our guns?"

Gun safety advocates say the technology is promising, but needs more research to ensure it actually works. However, federal agencies stepping up and committing to research and to test-driving the technology to make sure it works is a big step forward, gun control advocates say.