March 14, 2013 / 9:19 PM / 6 years ago

San Francisco investors back tech startups to curb gun violence

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A new group of San Francisco Bay Area technology investors plans to back startup companies developing “smart guns” and other methods to curb gun violence, in response to the Connecticut school shooting last December.

Ron Conway, an early-stage investor who had backed Google and Twitter, among other companies, estimated that the group of more than two dozen venture capitalists and angel investors who fund fledgling projects would plow $15 million into 15 to 20 companies within a year’s time.

“A year from now, we will be able to point to the Googles, the Facebooks and Twitters, who are working in gun safety,” Conway told a news conference on Thursday.

“Smart guns” that won’t fire without a technology check such as a thumbprint check or a wireless link to a special wristband, data-sifting software to improve gun purchaser background checks, and easier-to-use school warning systems are examples of the type of technology envisioned, the group said.

Federal funding of smart gun technologies has dried up in recent years, but the Sandy Hook shooting has renewed government interest in the area, said Donald Sebastian, senior vice president for research and development at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

The San Francisco tech effort comes under the auspices of Sandy Hook Promise, a non-profit group founded after the killing of 20 schoolchildren and six adults by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14.

One of the founders of Sandy Hook Promise is Rob Cox, editor of Breakingviews. Breakingviews and Reuters News are both owned by Thomson Reuters.

Reporting by Peter Henderson; Editing by Richard Chang

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