Watch a Teaser for Motherboard's Doc on Smart Guns

'A Smarter Gun' is an in-depth look at the movement to create user-authenticated firearms that fire only in the hands of approved users, and whether or not this technology can curb gun violence.

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Mar 2 2017, 6:16pm

America is a gun culture. It always has been.

With an estimated 260 to 300 million guns in the national gun stock today, firearms aren't going anywhere. And it would also appear the political will to craft robust nationwide gun control legislation remains dead in the water.

With an epidemic of mass shootings, and gun accidents devastating communities nationwide, a small movement seeks to change the very technology at the heart of guns. Yet the players behind this movement to create user-authenticated firearms, so-called smart guns that only fire in the hands of approved users, are blocked at every turn. 

A Smarter Gun, an original Motherboard documentary investigation, is the story of why that is.

Over the course of two years of filming, Motherboard toured the ATF's massive gun reference vault and test range in West Virginia, where Features Editor and host Brian Anderson began a search of the elusive smart gun.

The journey then took us to Washington, DC, where we were granted a rare interview with a legendary firearm engineer who could be considered the godfather of smart guns. We also met a 19-year-old freshman at MIT who runs a smart gun startup out of his dorm room, visited a garage in Washington State for an exclusive first look the first ever test fire of an implant-activated gun, and spent time in bucolic upstate New York with a grieving mother whose 11-year-old son was accidentally shot by a friend in 2010. 

Seven years on, she's determined to put a dent in the approximately 33,000 people fatally shot in the United States every year and sees smart guns as a potential solution. So what's holding back the technology?

A Smarter Gun premieres later this month on Motherboard.