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April 29, 2008

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Firearms Microstamping: Technological Advancement or 2nd Amendment End Run?

(The following is a guest blog by Derek A. Reeves. Reeves works in firearms retailing, is a competitive shooter and served in the U.S. Marine Corps)

We watched with popcorn in hand as Judge Dredd, (played by Sly Stallone), stood trial for murder and we were stunned as the prosecution pulled out its trump card. An innovation that marks the spent casing with the DNA of the shooter. The prosecution proved its case and Dredd was taken away yelling “I am the Law.” Now back to reality. On October 13, 2007 California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law Assembly Bill 1471 – Firearms Microstamping. A technology designed to stamp the fired casing with the serial number and other identifying marks of the weapon that fired it thus, in theory, enabling law enforcement to track the casing to the gun then to the perpetrator. Sounds good doesn’t it? Well this is where the movie and real life catch up because in both the technologies involved are flawed.

Prior to Governor Schwarzenegger signing AB1471 a University of California-Davis study concluded that the technology "did not work well for all guns and ammunition tested" and that “more testing in a wider range of firearms is needed to determine the costs and feasibility” of the program. But more importantly its biggest and most obvious downside, study researcher Michael Beddow went on to state, is the technology can be easily defeated with common household tools. Despite these damning conclusions AB1471 was propelled into law.

The Brady Campaign, in its continuing push for “sensible gun laws” claims this as a victory for law enforcement in combating gun crime. Paul Helmke, Brady Campaign president, even goes as far to say, “giving police more tools like this to do their jobs is the common-sense thing to do." Never mind that if a revolver is used there is no ejected shell casing. (The Department of Justice gun crime report states that of all gun crimes 51.5 percent were perpetrated with revolvers.) Never mind that if the weapon were manufactured prior to 2010 there would be no markings. (Illegal firearms are kept on the black market for as long as they are functional.) And, most importantly perhaps, weapons used in crimes are for the most part stolen so the trail would end at the original (and lawful) owner.

But the powers that are trying to put this technology in play are not interested in crime—this is about control.

—Derek A. Reeves

Comments

JohnFNWayne

Most Orwellian law passed in a long time, and given the current state of this country, that's saying quite a bit.

Get REAL

yes and with a dremel and a litle polihing media I Can take the dreaded head stamp!!!

Jim in Mo.

How would they accomplish this micro-stamping, on the firing pin? Those are replaced easily.

William Sinclair

The existence of one or more empty cases at a crime scene does not PROVE that the gun which fired them was in any particular persons hands at the time. May be they would be throw downs aquired at a legal shooting range. There is no logic to it. In the UK all our handguns were handed in 10 years ago.. Cun crime has more than trippled

William Sinclair

The existence of one or more empty cases at a crime scene does not PROVE that the gun which fired them was in any particular persons hands at the time. May be they would be throw downs aquired at a legal shooting range. There is no logic to it. In the UK all our handguns were handed in 10 years ago.. gun crime has more than trippled

Philip Brown

An interesting angle to this is the security of the production technology. I foresee replacement firing pins with police or military designators. Should make the CSI's jobs a little complicated.

jstreet

This isn't about solving crimes and making cops jobs easier. It's about making ammo and firearms as expensive as possible.

The anti's have figured out that the SCOTUS is going to uphold the 2nd and now they are going after ammo. There are 12 states that either considered (or are considering) serial numbers on ammo for semi-auto pistols and AR type rifles.

How much a box do you figure that stuff will sell for?

Jim