Local 2 Investigates new TrackingPoint rifle

High-tech "smart" rifle advertised as extremely accurate

By Joel Eisenbaum - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - A new high-tech gun is advertised as so extremely accurate, a novice shooter could hit a target half a mile away.

That's why some hunters can't wait to buy one and the reason one Houston group is worried the weapon could turn everyday criminals into expert snipers.

"We have smart cars and smart phones," said Darren Jones, a spokesperson for the TrackingPoint rifle system made in Austin. "Now, we have a smart rifle."

The "smart" rifle looks and sounds like a typical gun, but the movie-like trailer advertising its high-tech features touts a weapon that is something much different.

"Welcome to the first precision-guided firearm," the video says. "The revolutionary long-range shooting system that puts jet fighter lock and launch technology in a rifle."

That's right, "lock and launch" technology for a gun. Using a computerized scope that looks like a video game, the TrackingPoint system allows a shooter to electronically mark or "tag" a target. Then, the technology tracks that exact target point.

"The rifle puts a laser down range and lasers your target," said Jones. "Then it feeds your ballistic solution."

That means a shooter is kept locked in on a target even if the target moves or weather conditions change. The shooter pulls the trigger, but the gun will only fire when the aim is right on target.

The end result is an accurate target hits from 250 yards, 750 yards or even more than 1000 yards away. That kind of extreme distance is usually reserved for only long-range shooting experts.

"I think the accuracy and the range is absolutely frightening," said Michelle Green, a member of the Houston chapter of Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America.

The group formed after the Newtown, Conn. shootings six months ago.

"It's very easy seeing an average citizen turned into a skilled sniper with this," Green said. "And it's available to anyone who passes a background check."

Jones knows the new technology puts TrackingPoint in the middle of the nationwide gun debate.

"We've heard that, 'How can you be coming out with this?'" said Jones. "It's a bolt-action hunting rifle. If you choose to do bad things with a tool, that's on the individual."

TrackingPoint said the technology may be advanced, but it still takes skill to shoot. The computerized scope system can be password protected so only the owner can use it.

"This gun does not shoot itself," Jones said. "It's not a guided bullet."

With a $20,000 price tag, TrackingPoint said it has sold hundreds, not thousands, of the high-tech rifles since the beginning of 2013.

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