If Then

The Allure of Smart Guns

Presidential candidates are calling for firearms that will only unlock for their owners. Research shows their potential is complicated.

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About the Show

If Then is a show about technology, society, and power. Each week, the hosts take you on a lively tour of the tech news that actually matters, from fake news in your Facebook feed to the algorithms that want your job to the Uber drivers who want a job with benefits. With news-making interviews of key tech-industry figures, fascinating academics, and top tech journalists, we explore not only how the technology that’s shaping our world works, but the ideas, ideologies, incentives, and biases that underlie it.

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Episode Notes

In this episode Shannon Palus learns about personalized guns, sometimes referred to as “smart” guns. Her guest is Cassandra Crifasi, deputy director at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research. More specifically, Crifasi is an epidemiologist focused on policies, procedures, and practices that prevent injury. She says personalized firearms are great for keeping kids and thieves away from guns, but they do nothing to prevent homicides and suicides by gun owners themselves.

After the interview Aaron Mak joins the show for this week’s edition of “Don’t Close My Tabs.”

Stories discussed on the show: 

Shannon’s tab:The Truth About Violent Video Games,” Factually! with Adam Conover

Aaron’s tab: “Dianxi Xiaoge” on YouTube

Podcast production by Cameron Drews.

If you have a question or comment, you can email us at ifthen@slate.com.

If Then is presented by Slate and Future Tense, a collaboration among Arizona State UniversityNew America, and Slate. Future Tense explores the ways emerging technologies affect society, policy, and culture. To read more, follow us on Twitter and sign up for our weekly newsletter.