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Friday, May 16, 2008

Microstamping Can Help Police Match Guns to Shell Casings, Study Finds

H/T: World Net Daily

Here's a few thought about this new, emerging, technology coming to a legislature near you.

"New technology currently being tested by the University of California at Davis could make it easier for police to identify the gun from which shells left at a crime scene have been fired."
First of all, I'm all for technology that helps solve crimes. I am against technology that either fails to that or creates little, or no, benefit to the citizenry who pay for it.

For the foreseeable future, micro-stamping fits both categories, INMNSHO. How dare I make this observation?

Let's look at what we're being told. Correct me if you can.

  • The current technology, according to the article, requires an etched firing pin to be installed in each and every weapon to mark the fired cartridge. The photo in the article depicts an unfired cartridge with a code marked across the rear, or butt, of the cartridge. That's an excellent place to place the code. Every time the primer, in the rear of the cartridge, is struck the primer (that's the device that sets off the firing sequence) is deformed. I think that will render many fired cartridges unreadable.
  • If the code is engraved onto the side wall of the firing chamber, that will be another excellent idea! Fired cartridge brass expands under pressure to seal the firing chamber. Extraction, for that ultimately critical shot, is sometimes difficult. Anything that increases extraction difficulty is to be avoided like the plague. It cost lives. Furthermore, as the cartridge is ejected, the force involved should smear the encoding.
  • Micro-stamping really works for only semi-automatic and fully-automatic weapons. They both can spray empty, once-fired, cartridges for several feet. Revolvers and single-shot pistols, on the other hand, hold fired cases until they're extracted in one movement. Many of the revolver shooters reload, or remanufacture, their ammunition as a cost-saving technique. In addition, a few like to try for specialized loads emphasizing power, velocity or accuracy. Think target shooters and hunters.

Further items from the article:

"After firing about 2,500 rounds, the letter/number codes on the face of the firing pins were still legible with some signs of wear. But the bar codes and dot codes around the edge of the pins were badly worn.

'They were hammered flat,' Beddow said"

2,500 rounds sounds like a lot. NOT! Those in the handgun shooting sports go through many, many thousands of rounds a year, Firing pins, while replacable, are usually very long-lasting components. 2,500 rounds is inadequate.

"Tests on other guns, . . . showed a wide range of results depending on the weapon, the ammunition used and the type of code examined. Generally, the letter/number codes on the face of the firing pin and the gear codes transferred well to cartridge cases, but the bar codes on the sides of the firing pin performed more poorly. Microstamping worked particularly poorly for the one rimfire handgun tested."

Not quite ready for prime time! In fact, how much do you want to trust your life to this technology? BTW, did you know that the .22 rimfire family of cartridges are the most popular in the wor;d?

"The researchers did not have access to patented information allowing them to read the bar- or gear-codes, and so could not determine if these remained legible enough to be useful."

"Codes engraved on the face of the firing pin could easily be removed with household tools . . . "

Well, they looked good to me!

"About 2,000 makes and models of handguns are sold in California, compared with the nine tested . . . "

Hmmmnn?! And California is so restrictive! How could they allow "2,000 makes and models of handguns" to be "sold in California"?

"AB 1471 also requires at least one other internal location for microstamping a number. Microstamping on areas other than the firing pin was not tested in this study. Based on the study's preliminary results with a .22-caliber pistol, where the code on the firing pin was transferred to the brass of the cartridge rather than the softer primer, the effectiveness of such a requirement needs further assessment, Tulleners said."

As the guy said, above, "Hammered flat."

One company is promoting this technology. Does any one else smell a rat?

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