Artificial Intelligence & Gun Detection: The Cutting-Edge Technology That Could Stop Mass Shootings
A series of high-profile mass shootings occurring nationwide has sparked widespread concern about how the country can decrease the number of incidents in which a gunman opens fire in a public space, killing multiple people. While politicians and members of the chattering class typically busy themselves with politicizing these tragedies, at least a few are trying to develop actual solutions to the problem.
Perhaps this is where artificial intelligence comes in.
AI has also been a prominent topic of discussion. It has become so prevalent that Congress is discussing potential ways to regulate the technology over fears that the movie “The Terminator” could become more of a predictive documentary.
However, some companies are developing methods that could possibly stop mass shootings before they start. There are criticisms of the technology being developed, but over time, it could become a way to decrease the number of mass shootings without trying to restrict lawful gun owners.
Omnilert, a security company, showcased its advanced Artificial Intelligence Gun Detection software at Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School in February, demonstrating its ability to instantly alert school officials when a gun is detected on campus, according to an ABC Chicago report. The technology can differentiate between real weapons and other objects, providing users with the potential gunman’s picture and exact location.
This real-time information enables authorities to respond quickly and potentially prevent an active shooter incident. Omnilert’s gun detection technology is already in use at various school districts, hospitals, and companies nationwide.
Mark Franken, vice president of marketing at Omnilert, told the news outlet that “[i]t’s how quickly you can spot a potential threat and then react to those is what really makes a difference between saving lives or not in a potential active shooter [situation].”
However, the technology is not without its criticism. Evolv Technology, another company that develops weapon detection systems, has come under fire for pressuring schools to buy their software by exploiting fears of mass shootings, according to a report from The Intercept.
In an email to New Mexico’s Clovis Municipal Schools, a sales representative from Evolv warned that prices would escalate if the systems were not purchased by the end of the year. The tactic eventually succeeded, and Clovis bought the technology for $345,000, funded by the Federal CARES Act.
Despite previous reports questioning the efficiency and effectiveness of Evolv’s technology, the company announced a doubling of its earnings compared to the previous year’s first quarter and saw a significant rise in its stock price.
The company has faced intense criticism for the flaws in its technology, including incidents where guns and knives bypassed the system in schools. However, the company reported $18.6 million in total revenue for the first quarter of 2023, surpassing its estimates. The company’s aggressive marketing strategies, leveraging fears of shootings, have contributed to its success.
Critics have accused the company of distorting the public’s understanding of its technology’s capabilities and pressuring schools to correct the narrative. Despite concerns about false alarms triggered by metallic objects, Clovis went ahead with the collaboration and officials agreed to collaborate on the Evolv press release announcing the sale.
It seems apparent that there is more work to be done before AI will be seen as a viable solution. But this might not be as far off as it might seem. Several corporations have made tremendous strides in developing AI technology, so it is not beyond the realm of reality to think that they will develop systems and products that could help schools and other public facilities stop mass shootings before they happen. Of course, it would be prudent to keep an eye on how these tools are being used because they could easily be used for nefarious purposes.
Moreover, it is also worth noting that the anti-gunner lobby will most likely try to stop the use of this technology to protect people who are most vulnerable. As much as I hate to be skeptical, most of us know that those who despise the Second Amendment will not accept any solution that does not involve disarming law-abiding citizens. Their aim is to attack gun rights, not stop fatalities. Still, the notion that we might be closer to a viable solution is encouraging.