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Unintended Consquenses of Bad Gun Laws- Microstamping

October 11, 2012

New York Democrat Michelle Schimel keeps proposing a state bill to microstamp ammunition.  Shame on her.  The theory is that the brass case in a cartridge will be uniquely stamped as the gun fires.  Let us say this works perfectly.  Ignore the fact that I could eliminate these tool stamps from a firearm in a few minutes and I am not a gunsmith.  Imagine that microstamping worked exactly as designed.  Ignore the fact that revolvers don’t leave their brass at the scene of a crime.  Yeah, the idea of microstamping  is stupid, but drink the Koolaid with me and pretend it all works just fine for a minute.

I’ve left brass everywhere.  I’ve buckets of spent brass in the garage.  It is from my firearm, from my friends firearms.. and from every person who shot on that hillside and did not pick up their brass.  The idea behind microstamping is that criminals will leave a unique fingerprint at the scene of a crime.. except that I and every honest shooter has left spent brass all over the planet!  What does it mean if my spent brass ends up at a crime scene?  Imagine you left a unique fingerprint on every penny you ever touched.  What does it mean if a penny with your mark was found at the scene of a crime?  It doesn’t mean a thing!

Registering the microstamp from a firearm doesn’t put the person at the scene of a crime.  Anyone who shoots will leave thousands of these microstamped calling cards all over the state.  I wonder if I could collect some of the microstamped cases from a politicians gun.  Hmm.  Anyway, the fact that the regulations won’t help law enforcement solve crimes simply doesn’t matter to the politicians proposing more gun regulation.

The legislation is proposed again and again for several reasons.  One is that some people will believe anything.  I could get campaign donations if I said that pink guns don’t commit crimes and I sponsor legislation that guns must be painted pink.  Next year I’ll cite new research and propose guns with blue dots on them.  There is a political sucker born every pink and blue minute.

Microstamping will require a state bureaucracy to register the unique microstamp of each firing pin.  That creates jobs for unionized state workers that make campaign contributions.  Microstamping will allow the state of New York to charge gun owners extra fees to cover the increased cost of registration.  Guess who else likes microstamping.

Microstamping will keep New York gun owners from buying firearms that are not registered  and equipped to microstamp.  Large gun companies like this because regulation is proportionally harder on small firms than on large firms.  The state will drive some gun companies from the New York marketplace.  (Where is the office of consumer protection on this bill?)  Self-defense prohibitionists like this because it keeps some guns away from citizens and it raises the cost to every gun owner.  That is a  two-for-one benefit, so any excuse will do for the anti-gun crowd.  We don’t need to appeal to stupidity to explain political behavior when ordinary self-serving greed explains what we see in the legislature.

Those are enough reasons for the ineffective and costly bill to appear each year.  The legislation will appear next year until the citizens of New York get tired of their cheap politicians.  Some politicians would rather have a government job than do the people’s business.  Shame on us for voting them into office.

California is no better when it comes to firearms regulation, but our brand of greed takes longer to explain.

Robert the indignant

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 2, 2012 10:04 am

    Abe said,
    I’m doing research as part of an attempt to write a story with a balanced view of the gun control debate. Your contention that microstamping probably won’t even work does seem to call the whole thing into question… but the notion that IF it did work, it wouldn’t help solve crimes confuses me. If a criminal robs a bodega and shoots the owner, is there some reason the cops wouldn’t be able to “find their brass” at the scene? You seem to be suggesting that there would be all sorts of other people’s brass at the scene, too — but I would think that many or most murders occur where there isn’t a bunch of “other people’s brass.” Can you clarify your thinking here?


  2. December 2, 2012 10:06 am

    The claim is that brass is unique like a fingerprint. The truth is that it is like a fingerprint on a spent paper cup. Abe, where have you left a used paper cup? We found one at a crime scene with your prints on it.

    True, if the owner bought the gun and registered it into the microstamping identification system
    if the gun is a semi-automatic pistol that ejects spent brass
    if the firing pin is not worn, sanded down or replaced to remove the microstamping
    if the firing pin remains in the original gun from which it was microstamped and registered
    if the criminal is the registered owner
    then the police have a lead on the possible criminal.

    If I drop a handful of used brass at the scene then they have a score of possible suspects. I could pick up my brass and drop yours at the scene. A spent casing does not give the police evidence that conclusively ties the spent case to a person who committed a crime. Ask a prosecuting attorney if they want to chase that claim in court. All the criminal needs to say is, “Naw, its not mine any longer. I reported that gun stolen years ago.”

    New York and DC used to require ballistic fingerprinting of a gun barrel rather than the firing pin. The grooves in the barrel create the equivalent of a fingerprint on the bullet. I can not find a case where that system was successfully used to solve a crime. Try it yourself.

    Pre-sale fingerprinting of the bullet to the new barrel is different from comparing a bullet recovered at the scene to a recently recovered gun. The latter is sometimes useful.

    The police do recover guns from criminals. The guns are seldom legally registered to the criminal. That fact does not matter to those who will use any excuse to pass a law restricting the ownership of arms.


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