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

(Attention Editors: Additional graphs and interviews with Donald Sebastian, Ph.D., vice president for research and development at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) can be provided. Contact Sheryl Weinstein for details.)

NEWARK, February 23--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.


NJIT is a public, scientific and technological research university enrolling more than 8,800 students. The university offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees to students in 80 degree programs throughout its six colleges: Newark College of Engineering, New Jersey School of Architecture, College of Science and Liberal Arts, School of Management, Albert Dorman Honors College and College of Computing Sciences. The division of continuing professional education offers adults eLearning, off campus degrees and short courses. Expertise and research initiatives include architecture and building science, applied mathematics, biomedical engineering, environmental engineering and science, information technology, manufacturing, materials, microelectronics, multimedia, telecommunications, transportation and solar astrophysics. Yahoo! Internet Life magazine cites NJIT as a "perennially most wired" university.

Contact Information:   Sheryl Weinstein
Public Relations
(973) 596-3436 




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