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Teen works to inspire action to reduce gun violence

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Posted at 12:23 PM, Aug 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-11 15:23:58-04

Over the weekend of August 7, there were mass shootings across the U.S. Ten people were injured in a mass shooting in New York City, five people were killed and more than 40 were hurt in Chicago, and five people were hurt in a mass shooting in New Orleans.

It follows a concerning trend of gun violence in the U.S.

Now, a 17-year-old boy is taking the issue head-on, as he tries to inspire action among his peers.

“It’s a threat on all of our lives. You don’t know when it’s going to happen. It’s very unpredictable, which makes it so scary,” said Amogh Palasamudram, a rising high school who lives in San Jose, California.

Palasamudram has spent an equal portion of his life living in India and California. It has given him a unique perspective on gun violence as both an insider and an outsider.

“There’s a lack of solutions,” he said. “There are people with different ideas, who are able to convey their ideas, but they just tell us how they feel, but they don’t tell us how we can go from here.”

Following the Las Vegas massacre in October 2017 and the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting four months later, Palasamudram sat down to design something that would marry his passions for computer engineering and change.

He has developed a device that attaches to the barrel of a gun and uses artificial intelligence to scan the environment and detect threats. If the battery-powered device detects a threat, as a gun pointed in an attack position, it will release the trigger from a locked position for the owner to shoot. Otherwise, it remains locked, in hopes it reduces accidental shootings or altercations that could be solved through other means.

“So, this technology aims to reduce gun violence itself without infringing on that right to bear arms,” said Palasamudram.

“Many companies-- big companies—they’re promoting this kind of thinking to tackle global issues, so that encourages this generation to come up with ideas to solve something like this and promotes that kind of thinking,” said Amogh’s mother, Shubhada Palasamudram.

When Amogh’s parents learned of his project, they were supportive. Not only did it address a fear Amogh and his classmates felt, but it also furthered a conversation in which younger people are taking more of an active role.

A 2018 survey by Rentable found 80% of millennial respondents felt the U.S. had a problem with mass shootings, and 52% said the best way to solve it was through regulation of the second amendment, while only 5% said the best way would be through its repeal.

Still, another poll by the Pew Research Center in 2021 found 47% of all Americans do not support gun regulation.

Palasamudram’s device has work to be done to ensure its accuracy, but it was awarded as a finalist at this year’s Microsoft Imagine Cup that celebrates innovation as he approaches groups to support its development.

But he says the accolades are only a small reward compared to the inspiration he hopes this instills moving forward.

“Even if it just establishes a ground for other smart technologies used to prevent gun violence then it would still be very impactful,” said Palasamudram.