More than 100 law enforcement officers, healthcare leaders, investors, and public officials gathered in Milwaukee for a Firearm Safety Expo highlighting available and emerging products that allow gun owners to secure firearms against theft and unauthorized use. Organized by Southeast Wisconsin Common Ground, in conjunction with the Do Not Stand Idly By campaign and the Industrial Areas Foundation, the event provided a forum for gun safety innovators to present products representing the “future of firearms” and to interact with prospective public-sector purchasers.
Nine product developers showcased products or prototypes including quick-release biometric locks, theft-tracking technology, and firearms with built-in user-authentication technology (or “smart guns”). The major U.S. and global gun manufacturers were invited to come and display available or emerging safety products, but declined to attend.
In exit surveys, 87% of the law enforcement officers and leaders present said they would consider purchasing one or more of the products they viewed. Officers throughout the Great Lakes region attended the event, held at the Milwaukee Area Technical College.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett told the plenary session: “As much as guns are an incredibly volatile issue in our society, we should all be able to gather around the notion that we can make this product safer.”
POSTSCRIPT: REACTIONS TO THIS EVENT
Reactions to the Milwaukee expo “spilled over” into several ongoing conversations:
Park Ridge (IL) Police Chief Frank Kaminski and other law enforcement leaders in the region expressed interest in evaluating and purchasing available technologies and continuing relationships with the product developers.
DNSIB presented the expo findings at a Spring 2019 meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Task Force on Gun Violence chaired by Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley. Mayor Cranley and other committee members took the initiative to begin organizing public-sector gun purchasers -- laying the groundwork for the Gun Safety Consortium.
Discussions continued among gun industry investors on how to encourage existing manufacturers to prioritize the development of gun security technologies.