Monday, May 4, 2009

Microstamping Not Ready for Prime Time

Note: this was sent out as a press release and to all our State Senators along with our complete position paper on microstamping.

Microstamping Not Ready for Prime Time

A6468/S4397 would require semiautomatic pistols to be capable of microstamping a cartridge case with an alphanumeric or geometric identifier containing the make, model, and serial number of the firearm when fired. The purpose of the bill is to enable law enforcement to identify the firearm used in a shooting incident when only the fired cartridge cases are recovered at the scene.

While the concept of firearms microstamping, if it could be fully developed and properly implemented, would be an attractive forensic tool, the technology remains unproven at this time. Some of the issues are:

The ability of the technology to reliable transfer an identifier containing sufficient data has not been proven. Testing has been done with identifiers comprised of only half the number of characters needed to contain the data required.

The quality of the impressions is negatively impacted by the normal cycling of the firearm. The firing cycle of a handgun involves violent motion and multiple high-pressure impacts that distort the image and limit the data recovery rate.

The durability of the image over the life of the firearm is questionable. Tests have shown softening of the character sharpness, distortion, and peening after the firing of as little as 1000 rounds.

Microstamps are easily removed by grinding or parts replacement. Firearms are made to be serviced. Disassembly and parts replacement require little time and no special skill.

The only firearms that would be microstamped are those legally sold in the State. These are the ones least likely to be used in criminal activity. A trace will only identify the original legal purchaser and will be of little forensic value if the firearm has changed hands legally or otherwise.

The proponents of this bill purport that it will provide law enforcement with a powerful tool to help in the investigation of violent crime. We believe that this is, at best, an emerging technology whose efficacy has yet to be proven. From the peer reviewed testing that has been published, substantial development and testing remain to be done.

If the technology does prove viable, it will only be effective if implemented at the Federal level. Enactment at this time would result in very expensive "feel good" legislation that can only provide a false sense of security in the face of a very real crime problem.

The CoBIS system in its nine year plus life has proven to be a multi-million dollar failure as multiple studies indicated it would be. We don't need another CoBIS like failure, this legislation should not be enacted.
Director @ Large

No comments: