sci·ence
noun /ˈsīəns/

1. The intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment

sci·en·tif·ic meth·od
noun /ˌsīənˈtifik meTHəd/

1. A method of procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses

Hmm, nowhere in any of the definitions for either of these terms did I find one that said the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses after shit-canning data that you don’t like. But that seems to have crept into the lexicon of the antis . . .

New Study Proves Microstamping Technology Works And Is A Necessary Tool For Law Enforcement To Solve Gun Crimes, their release trumpets:

Following on the heels of a front-page New York Times article on microstamping, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence today called attention to a new peer-reviewed, independent expert study on microstamping confirming the technology works and that it is an important tool for law enforcement to solve violent gun crimes.

Amazingly coincidental bit of timing there; the first piece on microstamping that The Times does in almost a year (the previous one was 09-Aug-2011) comes out just about the same time as this new study. Also, the study didn’t say that the technology works and that it’s an important tool for law enforcement, what it said was:

Despite shortcomings, microstamping does have the potential to place valuable information into the hands of the officer or detective at the scene of a crime in a timely fashion. [emphasis added]

But heck, why let a few facts get in the way of a good meme. As we can see as NYAGV continues:

The study, funded by the U.S. Department of Justice and spearheaded by a professor recognized by the National Academy of Science and a nationally recognized forensic firearm and tool mark expert and published in the Spring 2012 edition of the Association of Firearm and Toolmark Examiners (AFTE) Journal, found that all six letter and numbers imprinted on shell casings when a gun was fired, could be read at least 87 percent of the time.

Well, not quite. The test consisted of three weapons (a Sig, Taurus and Hi-Point) each firing 100 rounds of 10 different brands of ammo. If you average the results you get 87%. Except not quite, because they threw out the Taurus and Hi-Point results for the Sellier & Bellot ammunition. Their S&B rounds had a lacquer sealer on the primer which made reading the codes difficult. See what I meant about throwing out results you didn’t like?

So the actual percentage, across all the weapons, would be closer to 82%, which is still misleading, because the Sig had the highest score at 94.8% (and pause for a question: How many gang-bangers bring a $1,000 gun on a drive-by?), the Taurus was closer to the average at 84.8% while the Hi-Point came in at 66.3%. Unless they were using Silver Bear ammunition which brought it down to 58%.

Now assuming that bangers actually use microstamped weapons, and don’t deface the firing pin, and don’t wise up and start using S&B and don’t put a drop of nail polish on each primer, is there any way they could circumvent this important tool for law enforcement? Well, take a look at figure 2b from the report:

Hmm, less than 30 bucks on Amazon. Or if the BG is feeling really cheap, there’s always 2 pieces of Scotch tape and a plastic grocery bag:

But let’s assume that our shooters are really dumb and leave their microstamped brass all over the crime scene. The question then arises of whether someone trying to read the rounds cold, as it were, would be able to read the stampings. The study authors themselves point out:

In conducting an assessment of this nature it becomes a matter of concern whether a character is truly visible or whether the examiner, knowing what the character is supposed to be, un¬consciously ascribes greater clarity than actually exists. For example, after seeing 95 clear impressions of a code it would be difficult to not immediately interpret the 96th cartridge as being clear, even though some smearing may be present.

Since having each round examined by a different person was impractical, they told their researcher to be real sure that he actually could decipher the markings and wasn’t just remembering them.

And even then, even if the casings are left behind and are legible, what is to stop the purported owner from claiming the weapon was stolen? But NYAGV continues:

NYAGV is shining a light on the study and calling on the New York State Legislature to take action on microstamping legislation, which likely comes up for debate today in the New York State Assembly.

The study makes it clear that with the cooperation of the gun industry “microstamping could enable tracking of fired cartridges in an efficient and timely manner.”

Okay guys, weren’t you the ones that said CoBIS was going to enable tracking of fired cartridges in an efficient and timely manner? You remember CoBIS, don’t you? CoBIS, the 10 1/2 year old program that cost New York taxpayers almost $50 million and resulted in exactly 2 hits? Two hits which did exactly zero good because it took so long to get information entered, the statute of limitations had expired before you got your first hit. As for the second hit, when your officers went to the owner’s home and asked about the gun, he told them where he kept it. When they came back saying it wasn’t there he told them “It must have been stolen. I want to report a stolen gun.”

But this time you mean it, right? This time when we give you millions of dollars to spend on high tech toys (instead of putting ‘feet on the street’ as my former NYC cop buddy says) it will make a difference? We can count on this system to solve more than, well, zero crimes in ten years?

Further, to appease industry concerns about cost, the microstamping legislation in New York caps the cost at $12 or less per firearm to implement.

Well, if it’s capped at $12 then everything is golden. Except you know what I always say about devils and details. In this case the details in question can be found in Section 7 of the bill which states that the law will be implemented:

at such time that the superintendent of the state police has received written notice from one or more microstamp job shops that such shop or shops are willing and prepared to produce microstamp structures on two internal surfaces of a semiautomatic pistol in accordance with subdivision 24 of section 265.00 of the penal law for a price of twelve dollars or less at a production level of one thousand semiautomatic pistols per batch

Well that’s great! Manufacturers won’t have to re-tool their lines after all; they can just send pistols to a job shop to get the fiddly stuff done. Of course, I don’t know what gun sales are like in New York. It may be that all manufacturers can expect sufficient volume to warrant sending off 1,000 pistols at a time to be retro-fitted for microstamping. It shouldn’t be a problem since it will only take, um, will be limited to . . . well I’ll be darned. It doesn’t say how long the “job shop” has to get the conversions done.

But that’s okay. I’m sure the Jim and Sarah Brady Microstamping Emporium would never even consider incorporating and informing the Superintendent of the State Police that they were ready to modify pistols for $12 each, only to sit around collecting money for a few months before folding their tent and slipping away in the night. Of course not.

But just for the sake of argument, if someone did pull a fast one like that on Beretta, Browning, CZ, Colt, EAA, FNH, Glock, H&K, Hi-Point, Kahr, Kel-Tec, Kimber, Magnum Research, NAA, Para-Ordnance, Remington, Ruger, Sig, S&W, Springfield Armory, STI Int’l, Tanfoglio, Taurus and Walther…and each sent 1,000 pistols, that’s only $288 grand to scarper with. Not enough to provide any temptation. Right?

And just how carved in stone is that $12 per gun? Well, it says right there in the law that they can only charge manufacturers $12 per gun start to finish . . . Oh, waitaminnit, it doesn’t say that. It says that they have to announce that they are willing and prepared to produce microstamp structures for $12 or less for a 1,000 gun run.

But how about the fees? Will there be an unpacking fee? A dis-assembly fee? A barrel longer than 4″ surcharge? A barrel less than 3.999″ surcharge? A re-assembly fee? Testing fee? Shop fee? Packing fee? Shipping costs and handling fees? In addition the law says nothing that would stop a shop from doing the first batch of 1,000 guns for $12 (plus $100 in various fees) and then immediately raising its price to $100 (plus $12 in various fees).

I know, I know, that whole theory is ridiculous. Why would someone go into business just to implement a scam? After all, once you have their pistols, why would a manufacturer be willing to pay you a bunch more money to get back their pistols that are worth a lot of money? Oh. Hmm, so we have now gone from a $288,000 scam to a $2,688,000 scam.

But the NAGgers continue:

“We are tired of the same old do-nothing complaints of the gun industry while gun crimes continue to go unsolved,” said Jackie Hilly, Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence. “The experts agree that microstamping is a proven technology … The time is now to pass microstamping into law in New York to help police catch criminals and provide closure and justice to victims and families.”

Over the last ten years, New York law enforcement officials reported more than 22,000 aggravated assaults with a firearm, but those cases resulted in an arrest only 48 percent of the time while 69 percent of non-firearm aggravated assaults resulted in an arrest. The forensic expert study conducted by firearm and toolmark examiners confirms that microstamping is an invaluable resource for law enforcement to help solve these unsolved crimes.

Whoa, whoa whoa whoa! The past 10 years, huh? That would be the same past ten years that CoBIS was in effect? I have a piece of pre-internet wisdom for you Jackie: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me! You fooled us with CoBIS, you’re not going to fool us with microstamping.

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31 Responses to Microstamping Works. No, Really. You Only Have To Fudge A Little

  1. One more headache / expense for law abiding owners and operators to deal with that will be circumvented by a crook in ten minutes with a nail file… or better yet they will obtain the evil wooden handled assault pistols with high capacity six round revolving magazines that leave no brass behind.

  2. So grandpappy gangbanger will just tell babyboy gangbanger to only use the semi auto for hunting, target shooting, and competetion, and do all his drive-by killin’ with the family revolver. Damn! Another $50,000,000 government program down the drain.

  3. This is not about solving crimes and never has been. This is about motivating firearm manufacturers to NOT bother to try and sell guns in New York State. It’s a limited market, anyway.

  4. Lets look at this in a different light for a moment.

    Let us assume NY has an imaginary law in place which bans firearms possession by the non-state employed public. In enforcing such a law ,periodically a house search must be done to look for firearms, evidence of a firearm,and so on. Lets say in such a search the NY authorities find a spent casing in the home. They arrest the homeowner for illegal gun possession , put him before a judge, and the case gets tossed out. Sorry guys, but there’s no evidence that casing belongs to a gun that the defendant owns or fired, so the Prosecution is screwed out of a conviction.

    This embarrassing outcome would be avoided in the event of microstamping. Now the police don’t need to find a gun when searching a citizen:one spent casing found on a car floor or range bag could be used to establish ownership of an illegal firearm, which would beget state charges in court. This wouldn’t just happen in the event of an outright ban either;say some future Assault Weapons Ban comes out and it includes weapons already legally registered, but down the line the government says what was legal yesterday is banned today.They pull a spent .223 casing which registers to an outlawed “assault weapon”, and voila’! Assault Weapon Arrest and charges! For those purposes you don’t need 100% accuracy in reading the micrcostamp off a casing , just like the police don’t need 100% of a plate number to find a car.

    • There are some problems with this though. The microstamping would have to be done in such a way that the ownership would be tracked. Meaning, we know who owns this gun because of the stamp. So, it wouldn’t be finding a spent casing used to establish ownership, but finding a casing at the scene of the crime, then tracking the owner of the firearm.

      I think the real problem could be in framing someone for a crime. What is to stop some tool maker from making a stamp that registers to someone else, and having that weapon used in a crime.

      • NY already requires registration of handguns, as does California. It would be a minor administrative change to add the Microstamp code/serial number to the registration data. Thus, casing XYZ discovered at a crime scene would be easily tied to Gun Owner XYZ via the state registry documents, purchase permits, or remotely-but possible-adding it to CCW renewals and permits.

  5. Why don’t we just let them spend their money, and see the whole affair crash and burn? It’s easy for me to say because I don’t pay taxes to these idiots, but why not let them prove to themselves that they were wrong?

    • The same reason why we don’t just abolish the 2nd amendment and let everyone rely on the firearm clauses of their state constitution.

    • Let me tell you about what happened to us in Maryland.

      We have a fired shell casing requirement for new handguns. The manufacturer (or a SOT of your choice) fires the gun, produces a shell, writes up the paperwork, and sends it off to the state police. Annoying, but given that we have a lot of SOTs around here, it’s mostly just a hurdle to be jumped.

      Naturally, this scheme didn’t do a damn thing for solving crimes, so the legislature eventually defunded it. But, they didn’t bother actually repealing the law. Now, we still have to do the scheme above, but the casings just get dumped into barrels at the state police HQ.

      What I am trying to get at is that, in blue states, getting gun control laws off the books is almost impossible even when everyone agrees that they are hideously ineffective. Better to fight hard from the start to keep them from getting on there to begin with.

  6. I am surprised no one ever mentions what to me is obvious. This will lead to fewer convictions because it will give lawyers a great out, or worse could lead to false imprisonment.

    If micro-stamping was to be implemented in my area, and I wanted to kill someone, I would simply collect the brass of the most “suspect” looking guy at the range. Then when I wanted to commit the crime I would use a revolver or a around catcher and dump the casings I collected before fleeing the scene. Even if they do catch on to my little scheme, it will undoubtedly cause them to waste time going in the wrong direction, and force them to second guess every piece of evidence they have. Then, even if I do get caught and wind up before a jury, my lawyer can have a field day with “cases found at the scene where micro stamped to somebody else’s gun, a gun belonging to a guy police questioned and let go so they could harass my client and charge him with a murder her did not commit.”

    Or if I did it with my own gun, my lawyer could just argue I was at the range days before the murder and someone collected my brass there.

    So, I propose micro stamping gives gun grabbers such a woody because not only does it further their primary announced goal of making gun ownership by law abiding citizens harder, bu also furthers their primary unannounced goal of making it easier for criminals to survive and get away with their criminal acts.

    Just Saying!

  7. “The time is now to pass microstamping into law in New York …”

    And as a resident of Idaho, I think it is a WONDERFUL idea – because it will then be a LOT easier to get Remington to move their gun manufacturing to Idaho.

    Note to Remington: Idaho REALLY likes gun & ammo manufacturers! Our state Legislature is 81% conservative Republican! Democrats and anti-gun flakes are politically irrelevant in Idaho! Manufacturing taxes are low! Move here! We won’t pass no steenkin’ microstamping laws!

  8. This, by itself, wouldn’t achieve the goal of the gun control freaks. Each gun must be registered to a specific owner. And not just in New York, but around the country. Ordering firing pins or strikers through the mail would have to be illegal. All older models would have to be retrofitted or destroyed. It would have to be a crime to own a gun without the microstamping feature or to damage or modify said feature. And the list goes on.

    But there are some 100,000,000 gun owners and 300,000,000 guns, give or take, in this country. This must be the control freaks’ new jobs bill.

  9. Over the last ten years, New York law enforcement officials reported more than 22,000 aggravated assaults with a firearm

    So on average, that’s 2,200 aggravated assaults with a firearm per year. I don’t feel like wasting time being exact, but in 2000 the population was 8,008,278 and in 2011 it’s 8,244,910. Average it and we get 8,126,594. That means that, assuming each of those aggravated assaults was against one person only and they were only assaulted once, only 0.027% of the population of New York City experienced an aggravated assault with a firearm each year. Sorry, but having 99.973% of the population NOT be assaulted with a firearm doesn’t constitute a crisis in my book.

    • I don’t even think it was NYC. I think they meant statewide. NYS population is ~19.xx million. That makes the actual statistic less than half of your calculations, proving an even bigger waste of time and money.

  10. growing up i fell in with the wrong crowed bad guys with guns all stolen mostly out of cars never payed for or registerd we never did any thing bad with them but a micro stamp wouldnt have done any thing want to slow down gun crimes dont leave your gun in your car

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