Draft NIJ Specifications for “Smart Gun” Released for Comments

By Dean Weingarten

Draft Baseline Pistol Securtiy Tech NIJ
Draft Baseling Pistol Securtiy Tech NIJ
Dean Weingarten
Dean Weingarten

Arizona -(Ammoland.com)- In January of 2016, the office of the press secretary of the White House issued a memo directing the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Homeland Security to promote research into “Smart Gun” technology. From the memo:

The Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Homeland Security (departments) shall, to the extent practicable and permitted by law, conduct or sponsor research into gun safety technology that would reduce the frequency of accidental discharge or unauthorized use of firearms, and improve the tracing of lost or stolen guns.

The memo resulted in a report.  The report included a plan to implement the research asked for by President Obama.  The first part of the plan was for firearm experts to develop a draft list baseline specifications for service guns that would incorporate the advanced technologies.  From the report:

Step 1: Experts in firearms technology prepare draft list of specifications. As a first step, the federal government will assemble a team of experts in firearms technology to prepare a draft list of baseline specifications. Starting in April 2016, DOJ and DHS will convene a working group, led by NIJ and comprised of representatives from federal law enforcement agencies, to identify operational needs. As part of this process, the working group will engage with firearms experts at state and local law enforcement agencies, and will consult with other relevant stakeholders, such as firearms manufacturers. (This work will also build on an effort, already underway within DHS, to determine basic common requirements. 10) The working group intends to complete draft specifications by July 15, 2016.

The draft specifications(pdf) were completed on schedule and released on 15 July. Public comments may be made until 5 p.m. Eastern time on 13 September, 2016.

How to Respond and What to Include: The draft baseline specifications document can be found here: http://nij.gov/topics/technology/firearms/pages/welcome.aspx. To submit comments, please send an email to [email protected]. Please indicate the page number, section number, and the line number associated with each comment. Comments may also be provided as a markup of the Word document. Please provide contact information with the submission of comments. Address comments to Mark Greene, Office of Science and Technology, National Institute of Justice.

The experts in the working group did a good job.  The produced a worthwhile document.  To illustrate their expertise, here are the requirements listed for the additional “smart gun” (they do not use that term) security device:

Pistols shall have an integrated “lock-out” security device as a permanent part of the pistol that disables the firing control system except when in the control of authorized individuals.

The security device shall be understood to include any externally worn items, such as rings, wristbands, or tokens that perform functions associated with the security device.

The security device shall include a programmable authorization system that can be set to allow one or more operators to fire the pistol.

The security device shall not inhibit the operator from firing in either hand, one-handed or two-handed, with and without gloves, in any orientation.

The security device shall not alter the normal operation of grasping and firing the pistol as a pistol of the same design that is not equipped with the security device.

The security device shall not increase the time required by the operator to grasp, draw from a holster, and fire the pistol as a pistol of the same design that is not equipped with the security device.

The security device shall not emit audible sounds or visible signals.

If the security device may be susceptible to electromagnetic interference, either intentional or unintentional, the device shall be equipped with countermeasure detection technology that permits  the operator to fire the gun when an attempt to block the authorization process is detected.

The security device shall covertly indicate when the pistol is ready to fire.

If the security device uses batteries, the batteries can be rechargeble but shall be replaceable.

Low power to the security device shall be indicated covertly with sufficient time to safely take action.

4.18.12 If the security device malfunctions, it shall default to a state to allow the pistol to fire.

The security device should be easy for an operator to quickly reset or disengage if there is a malfunction.

The specifications for pistols are much more comprehensive and detailed than the above.   My initial emailed comments were bounced back by the email server.

The address “[email protected]” in the “To” field was not recognized. Please make sure that all addresses are properly formed.

It is likely a temporary glitch in the system.

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

Link to Gun Watch

About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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I have carried a no safety pistol since 1996 , It doesn’t need any updating with technology. It still has never injured or killed any one.


These are a set of comprehensive specifications that will give prospective manufacturers something to shoot for in designing such firearms. With that in mind, the only firearms that the government should be able to mandate be equipped with this technology are the ones it owns, namely the ones used by their employees, the military and law enforcement. If the firearms work and are fielded for widespread use, the civilian market will grow on its own mostly due to civilians wanting to own the stuff used by the military and police. Try to mandate it though and it will be shunned… Read more »