Stamping out Gun Crime with Microstamping Proving to be Ineffective and Costly

Ballistic identification technology might be moving forward with microstamping but current legislation by New York and Connecticut lawmakers appears to moving in the wrong direction.  Two local and loyal employers, Colt and Remington, may be asked to retool their factories if legislation passes for microstamping shell casings.  This is a giant risk for a technology that is unproven and possibly ineffective in reducing crime.  The law would require semiautomatic pistols to be microstamping-capable.  Microstamping occurs when the gun is fired.  The firing pin will stamp the cartridge with identifying marks, linking the cartridge to that firing pin; and hence, the gun used to shoot that cartridge. In theory, tying the person who purchased that gun to the shooting.

The Coalition to Stop Violence promotes the technology as a seamless link from a cartridge at a crime scene to the owner of the firearm having committed the criminal act; thereby, ignoring all the variables that make this rather expensive undertaking an inefficient and ill-thought out remedy to reduce crime. If the law passes, it effects only semi-automatic guns originating in New York and Connecticut.  Guns already produced will be grandfathered by the law. Guns made in all other states will not require microstamping. Moreover, firing pins can easily be changed, filed down, and altered without damaging the gun and shell casings can be recycled and used in any gun of the same caliber.  While the actual technology might have credence, the parameters it must perform within are too unpredictable for effective results or to be sufficient for a criminal proceeding.

The questionable performance should be a strong deterrent; especially, when coupled with the high cost.  There has been some talk as to what the cost might be ranging from $12 for the manufacturer per gun, up $200 per gun to the end consumer.  There is even less talk about how it will effect the taxpayer, who will more than likely pick up the tab for law enforcement to purchase the machines that read microstamped shells.

California has yet to move forward with Assembly Bill 1471, Crime Gun Identification Act of 2007 because the microstamping technology is still too negligible. There are plenty gun friendly states eager to work with companies like Remington and Colt, which should make our east coast lawmakers reconsider their hasty legislation.   If their goal is to catch criminals and reduce crime with this legislation, they would be casting an expensive net with a small reach and a lot of holes.


Written by Amy Buser. Reviewed and approved by Joshua Prince, Esq.

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