Josh Ramos, 20, is an entrepreneur who believes he’s created something that could make owning a gun much safer.
“Hey do you have a screwdriver I can borrow real fast?” he asked as he tinkered with a palm-sized lump of plastic. He finished his adjustments and picked up the black, Glock 22 off the table.
By connecting plastic around a Black Glock 22, he’s added a trigger lock with fingerprint detection. Once it detects a matching fingerprint, it will pop off the gun in less than a second.
Ramos said this device fits on about 80% of all rifles, handguns and shotguns.
486 people died in accidental shootings in 2017, many of them children, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
“If that was my case and my little sister one day accidentally found one of my father’s guns and shot herself, I would be devastated,” said Ramos. “So, I decided I’d go ahead and create something that helped solve that problem.”
But the trigger lock is just the beginning. He wants this lock to be able to connect to WiFi, and by using the same tech you would find on a phone — accelerometers — any movement would be detected. When a gun is moved, the owner is notified on their phone, foiling a theft or a tragedy.
Ramos developed the product at “The District,” an entrepreneurial bootcamp through Geekdom where he keeps an office. It taught him the basics of pitching to investors and helped him create his business RMS Innovations.
Upon pitching the product to the Geekdom community fund, he secured $25,000 towards developing his prototype.
That’s where Drue Placette and CANopener Labs come in.
Placette is fond of guns. A stroll through the Marine’s office makes that clear. It’s his Glock on the table in front of us, and he played with a disassembled baby Derringer as he spoke.
He is also gun-control proponent, a feeling that got even stronger on August 26, 2013.
“My father was murdered while sitting in a Denny’s, six years ago now,” he said.
Placette’s father Robert was shot when four armed men robbed the Houston restaurant.
He says this product could make a difference. But this iteration of the lock is duct-taped together and plastic. Ramos is quick to point out it needs to be developed further before Ramos can take it into a manufacturer or try to sell it through a distributor.
“I’ve seen a lot of people that have ideas that don’t really have the opportunity to go to labs that can work with them and help them design it,” said Placette. “They have to go either to the East Coast or West Coast to some of those R&D firms that can be extremely pricey. Or they can send it overseas and risk losing all their I.P. [intellectual property]”
When it’s setup, CANopener is intends to take people with ideas and give them a place to make them real — something Placette said San Antonio lacks.
But CANopener Labs is itself a startup founded in April and still two weeks from officially opening.
An industrial metal milling machine and lathe were delivered the day before. 3D printers wait to be set up in an incomplete room.
In 10 weeks Ramos hopes to have an aluminum prototype of his lock. After that, who knows. He said he can sell his lock for less than half as much as similar products.
For Placette and partners David Elam and Drew Bracey, they want CANopener Labs, the nondescript office building near the airport, to be a sort of pre-Southwest Research Institute.
For now, both companies are trying something new and hoping to make a difference.