New cell phone app shows nearest gun-free zones

Peden cited reports that mass shooter James Holmes specifically targeted the only gun-free movie theater near him as evidence that criminals and psychopaths can be well informed and deliberate about their crimes. Law-abiding citizens can keep themselves safer if they have better access to that same information, Peden said.

Peden’s team is working on modifying the app so that users’ phones will alert them when they enter a gun free zone. In some states, it is illegal to bring guns into a gun free zone–rather than merely impermissible–and Peden hopes the app could help prevent unintentional crimes.

“We want to make it so that if you walk into that store, the phone knows where you are and it will buzz and ask you are you carrying your weapon with you?” he said.

Developing this capability is tricky, though, because Google is inexact about property lines, and may not be able to render accurate information about when a user has crossed into gun-free territory.

The app is available for free from the Apple App Store on iPhone. So far about 5,000 people have downloaded it, tagging some 10,000 locations as gun free or gun friendly.

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