NEWTOWN, Conn., Oct 02, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX

Following an AP article ("NY new-gun database has yet to lead to prosecution," September 29, 2008) citing the failures of the New York and Maryland ballistic imaging databases, and testimony yesterday in a Washington, D.C. City Council hearing where the Executive Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence conceded that ballistic imaging has "not been successful," the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers' Institute (SAAMI) an association of the nation's leading manufacturers of firearms, ammunition and components released the following statement:

The failure of the New York and Maryland ballistic imaging database systems to solve any crimes in their nearly eight years of existence was predictable. In 2001, California wisely rejected setting up its own ballistics imaging system because research, including by the California Department of Justice, proved that a database of lawfully purchased firearms (that are rarely ever used in crimes) would not be an effective law enforcement tool. Another study released earlier this year by the National Research Council confirmed the findings and advised against setting up a national ballistics imaging system. New York and Maryland have wasted millions of taxpayer dollars on systems doomed to fail.

It is believed that New York has even stopped entering images into its database with a backlog of over 25,000 cartridge cases because the computer server housing the database is offline and isn't even in the state.

In 2004, a report by the Maryland State Police Forensic Sciences Division concluded that the ballistic imaging system "had not proven to be a time saving tool for the firearms examiner or an investigative enhancement to the criminal investigator," and that "it has simply failed in the mission and vision concepts originally established for the program." [emphasis in original.]

These "retail point-of-purchase databases" should be distinguished from the ballistics imaging database of crime scene evidence maintained by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, called the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, which has had some success in developing investigatory leads.

As the failures of ballistic imaging are becoming known, some gun control advocates that had initially supported mandating ballistic imaging databases are now promoting a new technology, called firearms microstamping.

Firearms microstamping is the patented process that laser engraves the firearm's make, model and serial number on the tip of the gun's firing pin so that, in theory, it imprints the information on discharged cartridge cases.Microstamping is a nascent technology that numerous independent studies, including by the NRC, University of California at Davis and renowned forensic scientist Professor George Krivosta, have proven to be unreliable and easily defeated in mere seconds using common household tools. Furthermore, microstamping can be simply evaded by criminals by switching out microstamped parts on a firearm for unmarked spare parts. In fact, yesterday Washington, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier joined the firearms industry in calling for further research into microstamping prior to any legislative mandate.

While the firearms industry welcomes further independent study of either technology, SAAMI supports allocating taxpayer dollars to proven means of crime reduction such as more police officers and more prosecutors.

SAAMI was created in 1926 at the request of the U.S. government to create standards related to safety and reliability. Technical excellence is always our goal and safety is always the prerequisite. SAAMI supports science-based solutions to the many issues related to firearms, ammunition and components. Information and a description of the function of each committee is available by visiting the SAAMI Web site at SAAMI | Home.

SOURCE Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute

SAAMI | Home