POV: Todd Lizotte, Co-inventor of 'Microstamping'

POV: Todd Lizotte, Co-inventor of 'Microstamping'

This is a discussion on POV: Todd Lizotte, Co-inventor of 'Microstamping' within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; The following was posted in response to a news item titled 'Microstamping passes in California'; http://www.treesandthings.com/commen...0/15/16040/858 Re: Microstamping passes in California telizotte. Sun Oct 21, ...

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Thread: POV: Todd Lizotte, Co-inventor of 'Microstamping'

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array Janq's Avatar
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    POV: Todd Lizotte, Co-inventor of 'Microstamping'

    The following was posted in response to a news item titled 'Microstamping passes in California'; http://www.treesandthings.com/commen...0/15/16040/858

    Re: Microstamping passes in California
    Sun Oct 21, 2007 at 1047 PM EST
    5.00 (informative, interesting, informative)

    Hello my name is Todd Lizotte and I am the co-inventor of microstamping.

    I am bias, but I figured I could give some insight into the technology.

    First, the technique is simple. A firearm currently has small microstructures which are formed onto the interior surfaces of the firearm that come in contact with the cartridge, when the firearm is discharged. We call these unintentional microstructures, since they are randomly formed when the surfaces of the firearm are machined during the manufacture of the firearm.

    These random marks are what transfer to the cartridges and form the basis of the science of forensic firearm identification, which is the science of matching these scratches and dings from evidence to the firearm once the firearm is recovered.

    Microstamping identifies these surfaces within the firearm and adds to them by means of a simple laser process, intentional microstructures that take the form of numbers and letters to form an 8 digit code.

    The idea behind microstamp is to use the same forces that produce the unintentional marks, so that the status quo is maintained, no new mechanisms are needed, we just use the forces and surfaces that current produce marking onto the cartridge.

    The cost is minimal, ranging from between 25 cents and $3, depending on volume.

    The key benefit of the technology is that a majority of firearm crimes, nearly 45% in California are never solved and the firearm is never recovered.

    Microstamping would allow the firearm to be identified even if the firearm is not recovered.

    Law enforcement uses trace data like microstamping to pin point crime gun sources, which are either stolen firearms or straw purchased firearms. The shorter the time between the first time the firearm is sold and the time it is identified is important data to map patterns of trafficking, to target firearm trafficking networks.

    Microstamping if definitely an investment towards the future, providing firearm trafficking data within a shorter time frame, since microstamping identifies the firearm the first time it is used, instead of when it is first recovered. Figuring the cost per firearm is about a one time cost of about a couple cups of coffee at the worst case scenario.

    Firearm trafficking becomes vulnerable to new data analysis techniques such as, Pattern and Link analysis as well as social network analysis, but only when the analysis of the data can form into patterns within a "narrower window of time".

    Another argument I have seen is that microstamping could create a deterrent and shift criminals from semi-auto handguns to revolvers. In essence this would mean a shift or reduction of a criminal's effective firepower.

    Plainly speaking firepower is the amount of damage you can cause within a given time frame. However, effective firepower is a combination of variables including the type of firearm, the ammunition, and most importantly the gun handling skill of the shooter.

    Firing a revolver accurately takes more skill than a semi-auto handgun. And when you have no skill at all in firing, odds are you are going to be limited in the damage you can cause.
    Another point is revolvers are "dual action"; the criminal has to pull the trigger fully for each round fired where as semi-auto are typically single action firearms.

    Most drive by shootings cause death by the fact that a hail of bullets is fired randomly within seconds and reloading is easy by exchanging a magazine.

    What is good about microstamping is that AB1471 targets the growing use of semi-automatic handguns used to commit crimes. Microstamping makes sense for that segment and if it creates a shift to revolvers, knives or baseball bats, that shift will at least give potential victims a fighting chance or possibly limit the chance of innocent people becoming victims of stray bullets.


    Forensic investigators use crime scene reconstruction methods to analyze various patterns; scene evidence and projectile trajectories are used to track back to the firing location and to match projectile location to cartridge location, i.e. cartridge ejection patterns. Projectile locations have a specific location and an angular trajectory (They can show movement of the shooter, angle and elevation of the firearm), so it is possible to match the two patterns.

    In an exchange of gun fire; the criminal is firing the handgun and potentially moving at the same time. These actions are mirrored in the pattern of the cartridge casings being ejected. If the person then randomly drops or plants cartridges, those dropped cartridges would not follow the pattern that occurred during the actual action.

    A common criminal who commits a murder or engages in a fire fight, is not going to be in the right frame of mind to take into consideration these types of ideas. Fight or flight response takes over.

    The other big issue with the dropped/planted cartridge scenario is that the physical evidence is analyzed; powder or gun shot residue (its type, age, and oxidation), oxidation of the cartridges themselves (fresh versus old), finger-prints on the cartridges, odd things (cartridge with pocket lint, dirt, fingerprints, odd primers, reload status) and the standard ballistic markings on the projectile (ejector marks, extractor marks, firing pin marks). Most forensic professional tend to laugh at these ideas. People who comment on these scenarios figure highly trained forensic examiners can't tell a freshly fired cartridge from one that has been sitting on a firing range for a few weeks or months.

    This scenario also requires that the criminal can locate a firing range, find the right caliber cartridge of the same vintage, make, fired from the same firearm that they own.
    If the criminal reloads, they will need to use a similar powder and projectile consistent with that ammo and the same primer. This is a tall order for the common criminal who truly cares less about these issues, since in their mind they will never get caught.

    The planted cartridge scenario is not realistic for nearly all gang or moment of opportunity based heinous acts or crimes.

    Another point is that planted cartridges have a history and by planting them at a crime scene the criminal is just leaving more leads to follow. Maybe those planted cartridges will lead to the place where the cartridges were taken, maybe that range has video taping system (most do these days for liability), or requires people to show drivers license and sign a form to enter the range area.

    By planting cartridges at the crime scene the criminal is providing further opportunities to recover good finger prints and law enforcement can use other data and network information to track the person down since most people who commit these types of crimes tend to have extensive police records and have fingerprints on file.

    The fact is that planting cartridges is an interesting theory, but in reality, it doesn't happen now and modern forensic crime scene investigation methods are more than capable of overcoming this type of TV based scenario.


    Microstamping is a passive device, where no registry and no bureaucracy are required. It uses the same trace system that law enforcement currently uses today and all of the info is held by the firearms industry. There is no change to the legal owner's liability or responsibility. If you have a gun stolen, with or without microstamping and it is subsequently found at a crime scene, it doesn't matter; you are getting a knock at your door.

    As a supporter of law enforcement, NRA member and 2nd Amendment proponent, I view this as the most benign technology possible, providing law enforcement with a new tool, while maintaining firearm owner rights.

    Also the technology for commercial markets of semiautomatic handguns will be provided in a royalty free license to the firearm industry.

    Hope this helps people to understand our position.

    Todd Lizotte
    Co-inventor of Microstamping

    Source - http://www.treesandthings.com/commen...5/16040/858#23
    Personal Note:
    I read Mr. Lizottes entire statement, twice.
    Frankly he is well meaning in intention is what I think I see here. But, his statements, assumptions, understanding, and 'feelling' toward things are in some areas off base (e.g. "People who comment on these scenarios figure highly trained forensic examiners can't tell a freshly fired cartridge from one that has been sitting on a firing range for a few weeks or months.") and in others completely inaccurate (e.g. "Firing a revolver accurately takes more skill than a semi-auto handgun.").

    This gentleman does not seem to understand the market that he has developed this solution toward, criminals. Further he has greatly underestimated the will and ingenuity of those criminals while greatly over estimating that of law enforcement, timing toward review/analysis of a crime scene, and the real world capabilities of those "highly trained forensic examiners" he mentions who IRL are nothing like Gus Grissom nor Horatio Caine.

    - Janq
    "Killers who are not deterred by laws against murder are not going to be deterred by laws against guns. " - Robert A. Levy

    "A license to carry a concealed weapon does not make you a free-lance policeman." - Florida Div. of Licensing

  2. #2
    Member Array Wiggy's Avatar
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    Oh my God. He can't be serious... Dual action? I have a single action revolver... Apparently those don't exist, and single action actually means more fire power according to him. Wow. And California bought this?
    Eat a moose... 50,000 wolves can't be wrong.

  3. #3
    Distinguished Member Array Bob The Great's Avatar
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    I notice he didn't address the intentional defacement concern, nor the black market parts/whole guns concern. Essentially, it seems to me that microstamping very narrowly targets gun traffickers who are too limited in their abilities to illegally import unmarked weapons, and too stupid to deface locally purchased weapons before re-selling them. Seems like a lot of expense and worry for the rest of us to go through for such a narrowly targeted breed of criminal, even if it does work as advertised.
    "A well-educated electorate, being necessary to the continuance of a free state, the right of the people to keep and read books shall not be infringed."
    Is this hard to understand? Then why does it get unintelligible to some people when 5 little words are changed?

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  5. #4
    Member Array 1911packer's Avatar
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    A weak defense that was apparently accepted by weak minds.

    How is a revolver more difficult to fire accurately?

    My 1911 flings spent brass all over the place.

    With microstamping, if your gun is stolen and used in a crime, you will get a knock at the door if they find the brass. No gun needs to be recovered.

  6. #5
    Array QKShooter's Avatar
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    Todd Lizotte...bend and stretch way up into the sky to try to find reasons why legitimate legal law abiding gun owning American citizens should feel fantastically happy about your micro-stamping.
    The only reason I need not to trust it is if that traitorous California turncoat left wing bulked up Kennedy humping sheeple on steroids likes it...then I automatically hate it.
    If Arnold thinks it's a good idea...then it's for sure it's as sneaky and as underhanded and deceitful as he is.
    Liberty Over Tyranny Μολὼν λαβέ

  7. #6
    VIP Member Array ELCruisr's Avatar
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    He obviously doesn't consider that the felon with a stolen weapon, high on his drug of choice or badly needing a fix, couldn't care less if the cases are microstamped or not. It won't make much difference to a victim either. Since the weapon is stolen to begin with it won't lead LE to a suspect either.

    If you stand up and be counted, from time to time you may get yourself knocked down. But remember this: A man flattened by an opponent can get up again. A man flattened by conformity stays down for good. ~ Thomas J. Watson, Jr.

  8. #7
    VIP Member Array OPFOR's Avatar
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    His second sentence - the first after introducing himself - blows the whole thing. "I am bias..." Now, if he were biased, that would be one thing, but to actually be bias itself...wow.

    Seriously, this guy lives in a dreamworld, probably one he has intentionally created to support his commercial product. His statements of "fact" regarding firearms - revolvers are more difficult to shoot accurately, most semi-autos are single action, etc. - show an ignorance (that I can only assume is intentional, the guy knows enough about guns to come up with microstamping in the first place) that is inexcusable in someone who wants to push firearms policy. And if you have to "pull the trigger fully" to fire a "dual" action revolver, what do you have to do to fire a semi-auto? Pull the trigger partially?

    His statements about criminals and investigators are laughable. Apparently, the only reason that the modern miracle workers in forensics (of which there must be tens of thousands, thoroughly investigating each and every use of a firearm in the country) is because they don't have microstamping. Criminals, of course, are so incredibly dumb, incompetent with their weapons, and utterly incapable of circumventing the simplest attempts to stymie their activities that it's a wonder there are any crimes at all!

    I also think that there may not have been pure bad intent on the part of Mr. Lizotte. Now, however, when the $$$ are in sight, and the massive flaws in his invention have been pointed out, he has resorted to the worst form of obfuscation and misinformation to keep the ball (and the money) rolling. For shame.
    A man fires a rifle for many years, and he goes to war. And afterward he turns the rifle in at the armory, and he believes he's finished with the rifle. But no matter what else he might do with his hands - love a woman, build a house, change his son's diaper - his hands remember the rifle.

  9. #8
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    If society would determine to harshly punish lawbreakers then the massive government regulation that we endure, along with such tomfoolery as microstamping, tagents, and designs that restrict the firearm to operate only with special external apparatus, wouldn't be necessary.

    Our criminal justice system doesn't instill a proper fear of retribution into the lawless.

  10. #9
    VIP Member Array obxned's Avatar
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    Even IF this would make it possible to catch even one BG, what's the point? Catch them, try them, convict and sentence them, and they are back out doing their evil so very, very quickly that it is beyond stupid.

    Here's a radical new idea - fix the justice system.
    "If we loose Freedom here, there's no place to escape to. This is the Last Place on Earth!" Ronald Reagan

  11. #10
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    The man is either deceitful or ignorant regarding firearms.

    Honestly... how many people who have gone through the background checks, paperwork, etc and legally purchased/registered a semi auto handgun are going to not only use it in a crime, but also fire it? Obviously, as stated, if the gun was stolen, it gets them nowhere.

    As a side note, does this technology mean that we have to start registering after market barrels, too? Or is the stamping coming from the breechface?
    eschew obfuscation

    The only thing that stops bad guys with guns is good guys with guns. SgtD

  12. #11
    VIP Member Array pogo2's Avatar
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    Both a cynic and an optimist

    I am cynical about some things but optimistic about other things.

    With respect to microstamping, I am cynical about the motives of those politicians who made it a law. I don't think they were motivated to reduce crime, but rather were motivated to harass gun owners in one more way, making it more expensive or more difficult for honest citizens to own a gun. The crime solving argument is just a cover story.

    But I am also optimistic about the ingenuity of gun designers and the gun industry. By the time the CA law becomes effective in 2010, I think the gun industry will have figured out a quick and inexpensive way to manufacture guns which comply with the law. So there may be just as many kinds of guns available for sale in California, at about the same price as anywhere else.

    I predict that this whole thing will be quite minor, and will be irrelevant in the long run.

  13. #12
    Senior Member Array Musketeer's Avatar
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    The reason behind most things can be found by following the money. This guys stands to make plenty if his ideas are put into place.

    He belongs to the NRA... so does Michael Moore.

    I still do not believe that serialization can be accomplished on such miniscule surfaces for anywhere near the price he claims. If this is such a great idea why don't the CA LEOs support it for their own weapons?

  14. #13
    Senior Member Array walvord's Avatar
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    It's about him making money - lots of it. Thug steals legal gunowners gun - cops come to legal gunowners home after crime has been committed - legal gunowner has ironclad alibi after getting hassled by the police - now what? We aren't any further along than we were before. Enforce the laws already on the books and quit letting these idiots out of prison.
    The most exhilarating thing in life is getting shot at with no results.
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  15. #14
    Senior Member Array gddyup's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by walvord View Post
    It's about him making money - lots of it. Thug steals legal gunowners gun - cops come to legal gunowners home after crime has been committed - legal gunowner has ironclad alibi after getting hassled by the police - now what? We aren't any further along than we were before. Enforce the laws already on the books and quit letting these idiots out of prison.

    Legal gunowner has alibi unless he/she lives in an area where non-notification of a stolen firearm within x amount of time is against the law. We all have heard and seen these laws passed. All CA has to do now is get those laws on the books and then they can get at least the firearm owner a good portion of the time on the stolen firearm notification.

    BS at it's most opportune.
    "You've never lived until you've almost died. For those who fight for it, life has a flavor the protected will never know" - T.R.

    <----My LT was unhappy that I did not have my PASS-Tag at that fire. But I found the body so he said he would overlook it. :)

  16. #15
    Distinguished Member Array AutoFan's Avatar
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    Maybe I'm just an ignorant gun owner (with an engineering degree) but wouldn't polishing the surfaces involved remove the microstamping? And if it didn't, couldn't one buy parts without the microstamping? And how would this change anything to do with the many millions of guns in existance without microstamping? Suppose some BG does buy reloads at a gun show or gun store. Now you may have microstamps from multiple guns on one case (none of which may be the BG's gun if he has a pre-microstamp gun). Now multiply that by say 15 rounds. Now the cops are running down hundreds of guns, non of which are related to the crime, wasting time and resources for nothing.

    There are way too many holes in this guy's ideas for it to work.

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