May 28 - The German manufacturer of a ''smart'' gun that has provoked controversy in the US, says the weapon is ''state of the art, 21st century technology,'' designed for safety. US gun rights activists say that the Armatix Smart Gun's inbuilt security features represent a slippery slope toward government regulation of firearms, but the company says that the added layer of protection could save lives. Rob Muir reports.
German manufacturer Amartix says iP1 .22-caliber handgun is designed for safety. The gun is implanted with an electronic chip that allows it to be fired only if the shooter is wearing a companion watch, into which a pin number has been entered. Amartix manager Maximilian Hefner says it's state of the art technology. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MAXIMILIAN HEFNER, MANAGER, ARMATIX, SAYING: "Well, the iP1 of Armatix is going to get activated with the help of an active RFID watch. In this RFID watch I have to type in a pin code, similar to any mobile phone, and when I'm going to wear this watch together with the firearm, then the firearm is going to be activated." But if the watch is taken further than ten inches away from the gun, a red light will come on, and the weapon won't fire. The Amartix system could be adapted for hobby gun-owners who want to keep their weapons secure from children or for law enforcement officers; if the gun is taken during a scuffle it becomes practically useless. The company says its products are all about "gun safety for the future." But in the US, the kind of smart gun technology being developed by Armatix is being met with condemnation. Gun rights activists say it could be used by the goverment as a first step toward regulating citizens' constitutional right to bear arms. aMARtix however, won't be drawn on the issue.