I have spent my entire life designing and developing firearms.
My designs and patents, which include the USP family of pistols, the HK416 assault rifle, G36 assault rifle and XM25 grenade machine gun, are currently in use by multiple branches of the U.S. armed forces and numerous federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, as well as the militaries of Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain, among many others.
I am the first non-U.S. citizen to win the Chinn Award for small arms design — developed in honor of Lt. Col. George M. Chinn, a career Marine who dedicated his life to the study, development and refinement of firearm technology.
I am also the lead designer of the Armatix iP1, or so-called smart gun.
I have a deep appreciation and respect for the United States' firearms culture. This culture is devoted to the freedom to choose how you defend yourself and your family, and is dedicated to resisting undue interference in these important personal decisions.
Respect for this freedom to protect your family as you see fit is a major reason I believe that gun owners in the United States should have the right to purchase personalized firearms using high-tech safety features. The reality is that firearm safety has not meaningfully advanced in the past century. Nearly every other industry has transformed its safety features in that same period. Given how tragic the misuse of firearms can be, guns should be no different.
Armatix offers market-based solutions for improving gun safety. We understand that any time a major new technology enters the market some people will be skeptical, and that is why it is important to clarify exactly what the Armatix pistol is.
Armatix offers one firearm — the Intelligent Pistol — in two different versions: the iP1 Basic and the iP1 Personalized. The Basic works like a traditional firearm. Pick it up, pull the trigger and feel the recoil.
The iP1 Personalized can be synced with our Intelligent Watch, which is worn on the wrist. The authorized user inputs a five-digit personal code into the watch that activates the firearm. Without that code, the gun cannot be fired.
The firearm also detects the proximity of the watch, meaning that even if the gun is stolen after the code has been keyed in, it cannot be fired. If the gun and the watch are both stolen, the thief might as well throw them out because the gun won't fire without the correct five-digit code.
Because this technology provides a positive and safer experience, I believe the number of gun enthusiasts will rise. Families will be able to protect themselves from criminals while guaranteeing that a child cannot fire the gun. For Armatix, safety is a multidimensional concept: We think that guns should make you safer without adding the risk of a terrible family tragedy.
The safety mechanisms that I designed are completely in line with the values underpinning the U.S. gun rights movement and represent a market-driven approach to firearm safety. It's about having access to more technology features and the right to choose the firearm that best suits your needs. This is a solution everyone should be able to get behind.
Ernst Mauch is managing director of Armatix GmbH, near Munich, Germany. © 2014 Washington Post