New York Microstamping Bill
A state lawmaker is poised to introduce a bill that would require all new pistols sold in New York to be equipped with microstamping technology, a means of tracing pistols the firearms industry opposes. The bill will likely be introduced this week by state Senator Martin Golden, who has been working closely with city officials over the past several weeks to iron out the language of the legislation, an aide to the Brooklyn Republican said. Mayor Bloomberg, a proponent of microstamping, said in his State of the City address in January that he would push for mandating the technology.
The bill, if passed, would provide stiff penalties to any gun retailer caught selling a new pistol without microstamping, in which a laser is used to create marks on the inside of a pistol. The marks transfer unique etchings onto discharged ammunition that law enforcement can use to trace the firearm.
Opponents of microstamping have raised concerns about the technology, pointing to studies that have found it unreliable.
"We're not opposed to this technology because it aids law enforcement. We're opposed to it because independent research has shown the technology is easily defeated," a senior vice president at the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Lawrence Keane, said. "It would be a very different story if the technology was found reliable."
Earlier this month, the National Research Council released its findings from a study of microstamping sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice's National Institute of Justice. More in-depth examination is needed to test the durability of microstamped marks under various firing conditions and their susceptibility to tampering, the study found.
The cost to gun manufacturers, which Mr. Keane said could run to $200 a pistol, also needs to be better analyzed, the study found.
Despite questions surrounding the reliability of the technology, California has already passed a bill that mandates microstamping implementation in all new semiautomatic pistols sold in the state by 2010.
Senator Kennedy, a Democrat of Massachusetts, has introduced similar legislation at the federal level.
"It is a common sense measure that, when implemented, will speed up the time it takes to solve crimes. We are working with Senator Golden on this measure, and we hope that once a bill is introduced, that it is quickly passed and signed into law," Mr. Bloomberg's criminal justice coordinator, John Feinblatt, said.