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Smart guns, fingertip vaults and steel safes: Tech to make guns safe

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NEW YORK — President Obama is embracing gun safety technology and he’s directed the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security to learn everything they can about it.

“We need to develop new technologies to make guns safer,” Obama said Tuesday, as he announced an executive action to try to curb gun deaths.

Gun safety technology is a blanket term for different types of devices used to secure guns to keep them from falling into the wrong hands. Both sides of the gun debate say they support gun safety.

But it’s more complicated than that. Gun security is often associated with smart guns, which only fire when activated by the owner. The NRA says it doesn’t oppose smart guns, but it does oppose a New Jersey law that requires retailers to sell them.

“We’ve never had a problem with smart gun technology,” said NRA spokesman Lars Dalseide. “Our only issue with New Jersey was the mandate that would require firearm dealers to only sell smart guns. The choice should be left to the marketplace.”

Here’s a look at the some of the leading products in gun security technology.

Armatix smart gun

Smart guns are a new technology that didn’t even exist when New Jersey passed a law in 2002 requiring retailers to sell them.

“The future of the firearm. Now.” That’s the slogan of Armatix, the German manufacturer of the iP1 pistol, a .22-caliber semiautomatic pistol with a 10-round magazine.

The gun can only fire when activated by a wristwatch worn by the owner, who enters a PIN code to enable the weapon. It also features a time-controlled deactivation of the weapon.

If a criminal steals the gun, he or she won’t be able to use it in a crime without knowing the PIN code.

Armatix also makes locks that can be inserted into the barrels of guns, rendering them useless. They can only be removed by entering the PIN code. Wall kiosks can lock up guns for easy access, should the need arise.

“We welcome this step and see this as a confirmation of our smart gun technology,” Armatix spokesman Helmut Brandtner said about Obama’s endorsement of smart gun tech.

Winchester Safes: Big Daddy and Bandit

“We won the West, now we protect it,” reads the slogan of the venerable old Winchester gun company, which offers a traditional method for gun storage: the old-fashioned home safe.

Winchester Safes of Dallas offers a series of gun vaults with names like Big Daddy and Bandit. They’re large enough to hold a selection of guns, including rifles and shotguns, along with ammunition and valuables like jewelry and cash.

The safes are opened and closed with a hand crank and locked with a push button code.

The deluxe model is the Legacy Premier 53, which is six feet tall, weighs 1,600 pounds and costs $3,579.

GunVault

GunVault of Las Vegas makes products that are smaller than the man-sized safes produced by Winchester. They make strongboxes sized for a single handgun, like the NanoVault for $36.99.

The yet-to-be-released ARVault doesn’t even contain an entire gun. The laptop-sized vault is locked over the working parts of the AR-15, including the trigger, grip and receiver.

But the most significant difference is the locking mechanism itself. GunVault uses a biometric lock activated by fingerprints. The owner unlocks the gun by placing his or her hand onto the hand-shaped space on the vault.

Identilock

Identilock is a newly launched gun security device that also uses biometrics. Rather than lock in all or most of the gun, the palm-sized device is locked over the trigger and trigger guard, leaving the rest of the gun free but inert. The owner releases the lock by placing his or her fingertip over a sensor right above the trigger.

The Detroit-based manufacturer is selling them for $319.

The inventor, Omer Kiyani, told CNNMoney that the owner can add family and friends to the Identilock’s profile. He or she can surreptitiously remove family members from the profile, like a teenager showing signs of suicidal behavior.

Kiyani, an engineer, has been working on the design ever since he was shot in the face as a teenager.