Kansas Legislation Favors Specific AI Gun Detection Company For School Safety Grants

Kansas is considering offering up to $5 million in grants for schools to install surveillance cameras equipped with artificial intelligence systems that can detect people carrying guns.

However, the legislation awaiting Gov. Laura Kelly’s approval includes very specific criteria that only one company currently meets: ZeroEyes, a rapidly growing firm founded by military veterans after the fatal shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.

To qualify for the grants, the AI software must be patented and “designated as qualified anti-terrorism technology” in compliance with certain security industry standards already in use in at least 30 states. It must also be capable of detecting “three broad firearm classifications with a minimum of 300 subclassifications” and “at least 2,000 permutations,” among other requirements.

ZeroEyes appears to be the only firm that meets all those criteria, which the company itself touted to Kansas lawmakers. The legislation highlights how school security has become a multibillion-dollar industry and how some companies are successfully persuading policymakers to write their particular solutions into state law.

ZeroEyes is also the only firm qualified for state firearms detection programs under laws enacted last year in Michigan and Utah bills passed earlier this year in Florida and Iowa and legislation proposed in Colorado, Louisiana and Wisconsin. On Friday, Missouri passed legislation geared toward ZeroEyes, offering $2.5 million in matching grants to schools to buy firearms detection software designated as “qualified anti-terrorism technology.”

While few question the technology, some do question the legislative tactics. Jason Stoddard, director of school safety and security for Charles County Public Schools in Maryland, called the super-specific Kansas bill “probably the most egregious thing that I have ever read” in legislation.

Stoddard, who chairs the newly launched National Council of School Safety Directors, argues that when states allot millions for certain products, it often leaves less money for other important school safety efforts such as electronic door locks, shatter-resistant windows, communication systems and security staff.

ZeroEyes is not the only company using AI-driven surveillance systems to spot guns. Competitor Omnilert has pivoted to firearms detection but does not yet have a patent or federal designation as an anti-terrorism technology under a 2002 law providing liability protections. Though in hundreds of schools, Omnilert’s products aren’t in 30 states ,which could disqualify it from state grants under the proposed legislation.