Washington - U.S. Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-08) today announced that the Department of Justice has awarded the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) with a $254,889 federal grant to continue developing childproof smart gun technology.

The grant, which was earmarked by Senators Lautenberg and Menendez and Rep. Pascrell in last year's annual Congressional appropriation bill, will help NJIT improve its "Dynamic Grip Recognition" technology and move smart gun technology closer to commercial consideration.

"Technology plays a critical role in the fight against the influx of illegal guns on our streets. State-of-the art personalized firearms, along with common-sense gun policies, can help decrease senseless gun deaths," Sen. Lautenberg said. "I applaud NJIT for its vision and leadership as it works to create safer guns and will monitor its progress closely. I will continue to fight for federal funding that allows New Jersey to stay at the forefront of technological developments that will protect our residents from the dangers of gun violence."

"Far too many tragedies start with children getting hold of a gun in their own homes or elsewhere," said Senator Menendez. "We need to keep them safe from endangering themselves, their families and their friends. Handgun safety must be brought into the 21st century and must be brought in line with child-proof safety mechanisms on any number of less deadly consumer products. These federal funds will go toward new technology that will expand the ways we can keep our children safe. I am pleased that the New Jersey Institute of Technology will be a leader in this important public safety effort."

"Smart gun technology holds the potential to dramatically reduce the number of children involved in handgun related shootings," stated Pascrell. "It is a common-sense public safety solution to the horrible accidental shootings, violent crimes and suicides that occur far too often in our communities. From aspirin containers, to cigarette lighters and baby car seats, the government has wisely implemented safety guidelines. Yet handguns, which kill a staggering number of kids, have been off limits to safety improvements. With this critical grant funding, NJIT will continue its national leadership in developing safer, smarter guns."

"We are grateful for the previous support of Senators Lautenberg and Menendez, and Congressman Pascrell that allowed us to take Dynamic Grip Recognition (DGR) from concept to practice. The project team looks forward to using this new grant to solve the challenge of adding firing control to produce a complete prototype weapon that validates the child-safe handgun concept," said Dr. Donald H. Sebastian, Sr. Vice President for Research and Development at NJIT.

Since 2000, NJIT has spearheaded efforts to develop a personalized handgun that can recognize, instantly and reliably, one or more pre-programmed authorized users.

In December of 2002, New Jersey became the first state to pass legislation specifying that three years after it is determined that personalized handguns are available for retail sale, dealers and manufacturers will not be able to sell, assign or transfer any handgun legally unless it is personalized.