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Contact Information: Tanya Klein Public Relations 973-596-3433

New Jersey residents endorse idea of “Personalized Guns” and support research to develop technology to prevent gun violence

Fully 90 percent of state residents agree that unauthorized gun use or the use of a gun by someone other than its owner is a “serious problem.” More than four out of five (83 percent) state residents believe the government should require that every gun sold in the state be equipped with a device that would allow only authorized users to fire the gun. Three out of four (74 percent) gun owners in the state also support requiring user authentication technology on guns sold in New Jersey.

New Jersey state law currently requires that all retail gun dealers sell only guns that are “child-proof” - as soon as such handguns are on the market. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of New Jerseyans believe such “smart gun” technology already exists. But. Donald Sebastian, Ph.D., vice president for research and development at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), says that personalized weapon technology is still on the drawing board.

“We are so accustomed to seeing technological innovation in the marketplace that it is easy to believe that smart guns already exist. But, as Thomas Edison said, invention is "1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration" and this problem has not received the investment or effort needed to produce a working commercial technology,” says Sebastian.

An overwhelming majority of New Jersey residents supports government funding of research to develop technology that will prevent gun violence and save lives. Four out of five (81 percent) state residents and 72 percent of those with a gun in their home agree that it is appropriate for government to fund such research “We are close to bringing this technology into existence,” says Sebastian” and broad support for continued research will keep public and private investment focused on putting an end to unauthorized gun use.”

Other findings:

    * Nine out of ten (90 percent) New Jerseyans, 89 percent of gun owners, and 91 percent of those with children under the age of 18 say they would feel more comfortable allowing children to play at their friend’s homes if they “knew for certain that there was no chance they might find an unlocked and loaded gun.”

    * By a ratio of three-to-one, New Jersey residents say they would be more likely to purchase a gun if it was equipped with technology that would allow it to be fired only by its owner. Forty-five percent say they are more likely to purchase a gun if it is equipped with such technology, while 15 percent say they would be less likely to buy it.

         -New Jerseyans are not deterred by a potentially higher price tag a personalized handgun might carry. Fully 81 percent of state residents agree that the additional cost of a personalized, user-only gun is an acceptable price to pay for greater safety from unauthorized gun use.

         -Two in five (41 percent) New Jersey residents say they would be willing to pay an additional $50 for a gun if it were equipped with such technology. Half of those (20 percent) would pay up to $100 more.

         -About half (48 percent) of New Jersey residents have personally fired a gun, and one in five (20 percent) state residents says they or someone in their household own a gun.

    * New Jersey residents are willing to accept the loss of privacy required by user-authentication technology. Fully four in five (79 percent) agree that it is an acceptable price to pay for greater safety from unauthorized gun use.

         -Two-thirds (66 percent) of gun owners, and 83 percent of those without guns in their homes say that the loss of privacy and the sharing of personal information involved in the implementation of a personalized gun registry is an acceptable price to pay for safety.

The poll was conducted among 404 New Jersey adults selected using random digit dial. The interviews were conducted by telephone from February 11-14, 2003. Quotas were established by region based on census population figures in New Jersey counties. The margin of error for this survey is ±4.9% on the overall sample. The margin of error on sub-samples is greater.

One of the nation's leading public technological universities, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is a top-tier research university that prepares students to become leaders in the technology-dependent economy of the 21st century. NJIT's multidisciplinary curriculum and computing-intensive approach to education provide technological proficiency, business acumen and leadership skills. With an enrollment of more than 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students, NJIT offers small-campus intimacy with the resources of a major public research university. NJIT is a global leader in such fields as solar research, nanotechnology, resilient design, tissue engineering, and cyber-security, in addition to others. NJIT ranks 5th among U.S. polytechnic universities in research expenditures, topping $110 million, and is among the top 1 percent of public colleges and universities in return on educational investment, according to PayScale.com.