Monday, September 25, 2006

Microstamping: Cost vs. Benefit


submit by troy m; comments by blogger jgl

Neat idea (click headline). If they only could stamp the bullet too. Almost everyone agrees that microstamping would be a good thing in many/few cases. Of course, there is a slight difference of opinion as to the cost.

A new, ultra-precise laser technology can engrave the entire alphabet on the tip of a ballpoint pen. It's called microstamping, and it's got the attention of some law enforcement officials, intrigued by its potential use in solving gun crimes...

...For two years, the California Legislature has considered bills mandating that all new handguns be manufactured with microstamping, through which a weapon's firing pin engraves the serial number, make and model on bullet casings...

...Keane and other gun industry representatives say the technology is flawed primarily because the microscopic etchings can be easily filed off using common household tools. They also say it could cost up to $150 per firearm...

..."This is technology that would cost manufacturers from 50 cents to a dollar," said Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, countering the cost argument.

Give or take $149.50.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

I suppose forward thinking criminals could file down or replace the firing pins. however, picking up your brass (expended shell casings) would be just as effective. The idea though, as I see it, is that many criminals are not forward thinking. In fact in my experience most are just plain stupid. And although I have not personally studied the matter, I feel confident enough to say that there are many gun crimes committed by people who never intended to commit gun crimes. And thus, would have no reason to file or replace their microstamping firing pin. In short: give it a try, the more nets you throw out the more fish you catch. -CDR

Anonymous said...

In time, I think this could be a really good thing. I figure it should be taken even one step further - How about somehow having the gun stamp the bullet when the bullet is fired. The bullet may not always be recoverable. The times that it is recovered, it give investigators a starting point.

g.r.

Anonymous said...

My only concern is that aren't most gun crimes committed with guns that were obtained illegally anyway and not from legitimate sources. This seems like it would make some gun identification easier, but would have no effect on the majority of cases in which guns are used. I know that the guns would still need to come from the manufacturer, but those who sell guns illegally could still file the firing pin before they sell them. All and all, it is a good idea, it just needs a bit more thought before it can be implemented effectively.
JK

Forensic Bloggers said...

CDR - good point. i agree that most criminals don't think things through. Plus, if the suspect gun could be recovered the filing might leave unique marks on the cartridge as well.

gr - this would be tougher since the only contact a gun makes with the bullet is as it passes down the barrel of a gun. it might be possible to leave barcode like striations on it, but probably expensive to put into action.

JK - good point. i'm sure this is an aruguement the manufacturers make. however, as mentioned above, if the gun can be recovered, it provides another way that the cartridge can be linked back to the gun.

toddlizotte said...

I am a co-inventor of the technology so I am kind of bias. We are going to give the firearms industry a free license to use the technology, so no royalties. The market is to small and the process is really quick, so it is not very expensive, at the moment, 15 cents for the pin.

From our contact in the forensic community the feedback is similar to the posting here. The DC based ATF group is digging in on the IBIS/NIBIN system, but we had a few ATF agents in LA who said they like the technology. They feel the data or information from our technology, would help quickly develop trafficking patterns or routes. Especially for stoeln or illegally aquired firearms "straw purchases".

Well, at this point, I figure it is cheaper to place this technology on board a firearm instead of having to use imaging technology.

Sincerely, Todd Lizotte - Co-Inventor / Microstamping

Anonymous said...

So, Arnie the RINO signed it into law. Now, everyone's gonna find out what a WASTE this is. Despite the assertions of the gun-control lobby, your average crook does not have to be an evil genius to defeat this.

-Pick up your brass
-use a revolver
-Use your "illegal" pre-2010 pistol
-Don't worry about leaving brass at the scene ANYWAY, it's not like you legally bought the gun under your own name anyway, right? Too bad for the poor sucker you stole it from, or the shady-looking guy who's trunk you bought it out of!

Anonymous said...

I hate to bring up the obvious question that no one seems to have asked: How many crimes do you suppose this would solve, anyway? I mean, crimes that wouldn't have been solved through all the various conventional means. It occurs to me that if you look at the number of handgun homicides, and then take out all those where the criminal is someone fairly obvious, and where the criminal would not have been readily found by other means, anyway -- and this would be the best clue they had -- you get a pretty small number. Then take this small number and remove the number committed by real criminals who -- because they are professional criminals -- had the foresight to get a non-traceable firearm for their dirty work, anyway. What does that leave in terms of crimes to solve? Not much. Then we should ask the other question -- how many cases would there be where this would be the conclusive piece of evidence for conviction? Again, not many. This is one of those solutions in search of a problem. Just because it is technologically possible to do something doesn't always mean that it is a good idea.

Anonymous said...

This is nothing more than a ploy to price ammo and guns out of site. They couldn't defeat the 2nd amendment, so this is their end-around play to try another way to get us to give up our guns. Read Thomas Jefferson and see the true intentions of the Framers of the Constitution. Ben Franklin had some great thoughts on this,too. This is a way to cost many manufacturers out of business for a method that can be easily defeated.

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