President Obama on Friday announced new efforts to speed up development of so-called smart guns, the latest step in his final-year push to reduce gun violence. 

Smart guns are weapons that use technological safety features designed to prevent accidental shootings, such as fingerprint activation that allows only designated users to fire the gun.

The Obama administration is developing guidelines so that gun manufacturers understand how they can meet law enforcement agencies’ needs for smart guns.

The Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security are expected to complete the guidance in October, according to a new interagency report published Friday. 

The Justice Department is also offering certain federal grants to state and local governments that purchase smart guns.

“These commonsense steps are not going to prevent every tragedy, but what if they prevented even one?” Obama wrote in a Facebook post.

“As long as we’ve got the technology to prevent a criminal from stealing and using your smartphone, then we should be able to prevent the wrong person from pulling a trigger on a gun.”

Obama also announced the administration is publishing a proposed rule that would ensure that federal mental health records held by the Social Security Administration are included in gun background check systems. 

The president in January rolled out a raft of executive actions designed to stop mass shootings, such as the ones in Newtown, Conn., and Charleston, S.C., that have marred his presidency. 

The core actions were designed to expand background checks to more gun purchases. But he also directed federal agencies to issue a report on how to make smart guns more readily available. 

Gun-rights groups, such as the National Rifle Association (NRA), ripped Obama’s latest proposal.  

“President Obama’s obsession with gun control knows no boundaries,” Jennifer Baker, director of the NRA’s lobbying arm, said in a statement.

Baker took issue with the Defense Department’s involvement in helping test smart gun technology.

“At a time when we are actively fighting terrorists at home and abroad, this administration would rather focus the military’s efforts on the president’s gun control agenda,” she said. 

Supporters of stricter gun laws called the moves a step in the right direction. 

“For too long, the gun lobby blocked the kind of research that can help save lives,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, a group backed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “Innovation is always welcome, particularly when it comes to safety. That’s why we applaud President Obama for taking this important first step.”

— Updated at 12:38 p.m.

Tags Barack Obama NRA Smart guns
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