Monday, June 21, 2010

Microstamping Needed in New York

We need microstamping for firearms in New York State (especially in New York City), but the Republican Party is thoroughly opposed to using new technology to catch criminal who use guns. Mayor Bloomberg is helping to lead the charge in favor of using microstamping, but he may now regret his earlier support of the Republican Party in New York State Senate races.


Firearm microstamping involves placing microscopic markings inside of a firearm such that the markings are transferred to the cartridges that law enforcement officers typically recover at a crime scene involving the firing of a weapon. Law enforcement professionals are then able to connect the markings of the cartridges to their records of firearms, and a crime solving is enhanced.

As we have noted, a much larger number of murders are going unsolved in New York City, lately. Microstamping would be a key ingredient in the recipe we need in New York City to reverse the trend of criminals literally getting away with murder.

California has already passed a microstamping law; it was signed into law in October 2007. New York would be an excellent place to continue the trend begun by California. Our two large trend-setting states could create enough momentum to result in a national microstamping requirement, which should be the long term goal.

New York's Political Push

New York City's Mayor Bloomberg, NYPD Chief Ray Kelly, and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance led a coalition of Mayors, law enforcement organizations, and District Attorneys from all over New York State who lobbied in Albany last week for the passage of a microstamping law. Their logic was undeniable. Microstamping would reduce crime, enhance crime solving, and would not undermine the lawful use of firearms for hunting. In fact, microstamping is expected to add only $12 to the cost of the average firearm, which has a total cost of $450.

Unfortunately, the Republican Party in New York State is focused on maintaining its relationships with the gun manufacturers who do not want their products to cost $12 more. The Republicans are willing to trade lives for the support of the gun manufacturers. The Republicans in the State Senate voted against the legislation and killed it. Only one Republican supported the legislation, and even a former law enforcement officer who is now a Republican State Senator failed to support the legislation and disappeared from the floor of the State Senate during a key moment in the effort to enact this life-saving measure.

Mayor Bloomberg has invested heavily in the Republican State Senate. He has provided them with enormous financial support and been a loyal and consistent opponent of the Democratic Party's efforts to consolidate its influence in Albany. One wonders if Bloomberg now regrets his steadfast support of the Republicans in the State Senate. Without flinching, those Republicans turned against the Mayor and against the Democrats' efforts to make our streets safer. Let's hope that Mayor Bloomberg spends his money more wisely going forward; perhaps he will support the election of individuals who will seek to do what is best for our city and our state rather than continually throwing in weight behind the Republican Party.

Passage Still Possible

The microstamping legislation that was killed last week by a unified Republican Party is likely to be brought back to the floor and voted upon in the coming weeks. The possibility of passage still exists. Your support may make the difference.


  1. As I find with the commentary from many progressives, you use half-truths, supposition, opinions, and disguise them as facts.

    What do you think this microstamping legislation will actually accomplish? Micro-stamping is an unproven technology. No manufacturer has ever implemented it in a production firearm. And no state requires this insane approach toward crime, except for the pending law in California. But you fail to mention that California has yet to actually implement their microstamping law. Want to know why? Because they do not know how.

    Actually regarding gun control, New York is going backward. More states are adopting "shall-issue" handgun licensing law. In fact, New York is one of 10 states that still have "may-issue" licensing. Compare New York State to Florida, Texas, and Pennsylvania. All three states allow for any law abiding citizen to exercise their constitutional right purchase and carry a handgun. Just try to get a pistol license in New York City. You have to either be a celebrity, rich, or politically connected. Would you consider this "fairness" as you progressives like to call it?

    Is handgun crime any worse in those states? I think you will find that handgun crime is comparable. Note handgun crime is never acceptable. But compare the murder rate in Dallas (13.3 per 100k) and Miami (14.7 per 100k) where legal purchases of handguns are easy, with Chicago (18.0 per 100k) and Washington DC (31.4 per 100k) where handgun ownership is banned. Does allowing citizens to own firearms decrease the murder rate? Not necessarily, just as saying an outright ban of handguns save lives.

    Will the micro-stamping law stop handgun crime? No, as crooks always acquire their firearms through the black market. Crooks do not go through background checks. They steal their firearms, or smuggle them in from another country. In fact, they do not follow the laws in the first place, so how will a microstamping law deter crime? Unless you plan on confiscating every handgun in the United States, there will always be an ample supply of non-stamped handguns to purchase and use in a crime.

    Will the micro-stamping law enable the police to trace a spent shell back to the source after a crime has been committed? Not necessarily. All a crook needs to do is file off the tip of their firing pin, thus changing the characteristics of the "micro-stamping." In addition, crooks can simply hang out at a few gun ranges, and collect the used brass left behind. Commit a crime, and leave a few of these spent shells from someone else's pistol and viola! The police will be looking for an innocent person from a handgun unrelated to the crime. The police will never know the actual weapon used in a crime, much less who fired it.

    Or even better yet, a crook can simply use a revolver in a crime, which of course does not eject a shell as a semi-automatic pistol. How will the politicians in Albany track crimes with revolvers?

    Doesn't the Senate have more important things to do, such as reducing our deficit by cutting out-of-control spending?

    And if the politicians must pass some laws, how about focusing on the criminal rather than the firearm? Give longer mandatory sentencing for violent criminals. For example, home invasions in New York are increasing at an alarming rate. How about a mandatory sentence of 50 years for these scum? But instead, the Senate is spending time to pass laws to monitor the rounds fired by law abiding citizens.

    For example, when the DWI rate increased, the politicians passed strict laws that either suspended or revoked the licenses of those driving drunk, or put them in jail, and in some cases confiscated their automobiles. But you never heard a politician suggest placing tracking or breathalzyer devices on every car sold in the state. They focused on the criminal, not what they used to commit a crime.

  2. And in case you did not know, every legal handgun license holder in New York State has gone through an extensive background check, including review by the New York State Police and the FBI. These are not the people you need to worry about committing crimes. And yet, legal, licensed law abiding handgun owners are the only people the insane micro-stamping law will impact.

    Let's call this microstamping law what it really is: a politically motivated attempt by a State Senator who is running for Attorney General to score points at the expense of the law abiding, while ignoring facts and more importantly, ignoring those that actually commit crimes. And, another attempt for a billionaire to gain power. Yesterday, it was salt. Today, it is the law abiding firearm owner. What will this maniacal dictator in training go after tomorrow?

    As I mentioned, crooks do not obey the law in the first place. So how will another misguided law deter them from committing a crime? It cannot, and it will not.

  3. "Anonymous" seems to be someone working for the gun lobby. In general, Gregg's point that we should, to the extent we can, improve identifying information from guns generally, so that more forensic evidence is available from crime scenes. This is a public safety ideal. The more forensic evidence the better, as that improves public safety, and more importantly, will reduce incarceration of innocent people who are falsely accused of crimes.

    The lobbyist makes some good points relative to the deficiencies in the current methods of micro-stamping, and going through a process to determining if the proposed law makes sense. The process we have to follow needs to ensure that the additional forensic evidence obtained is reliable enough to justify the costs of the program.

    The rest of the lobbyists criticisms are self-evidently foolish. We are struggling to keep our streets safe, and making sure the police get the correct person when a crime is committed. We want less innocent people going to jail. To those of you working for the gun lobby, we will work with you so that those who are legitimate hunters, or have a good faith need for weapons in self-defense can get them. But you need not to be dismissive of the rest of us who want to keep that out of the hands of gang members and crack heads, hold people accountable when weapons are misused.

  4. This comment is directed specifically to Joe Mohen:

    When you say "...we will work with you so that those who are legitimate hunters, or have a good faith need for weapons in self-defense can get them."

    Exactly who is "we."

    And what is a "good faith" need for weapons for self-defense? For law abiding citizens, is the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution of the United States "good faith" enough?

    Or is there something a law abiding citizen would need to prove when working with "we" in order to obtain a firearm?

    As mentioned by the poster above, New York State already has among the strictest gun laws in the country. A law abiding citizen requires a background check and a six month wait to obtain a license just to even purchase a handgun. But even after acquiring a pistol license, that firearm cannot legally be carried for self defense.

    Please explain in detail, specifically how more gun laws will keep firearm out of the hands of gang members and crack heads.

    I would really like to know.

  5. Hi Anonymous, the "we" is the people of the United States. The "we" is also the people of the middle ground, who recognize that there are legitimate uses of firearms in a civil society, for hunting and self defense. However, there must be strict supervision of those firearms, and there is also a legitimate need of the population to make sure we prosecute and incarcerate the right person when a crime is committed especially with a gun. "Anonymous", you might not be as sensitive as I am, to the consequences of what happens when an innocent person goes to jail for a crime they did not commit. I have seen this first hand in New York State, and the consequences on that person are devastating. And sadly, this happens every day in New York State.

    When an innocent is incarcerated, almost all the time they are economically ruined. The are physiologically scared, and their families often never recover. The problem is especially severe in New York counties where the District Attorneys rely on polygraphs instead of forensic evidence; polygraphs are around 59% accurate -- slightly more accurate than a coin toss. Forensic evidence can be very accurate, but it is generally not allowed to be used unless someone dies. Innocent defendants who do not have the money to hire their own forensics experts generally rot in jail, and New York prisons are full of them.

    Anonymous, the specific legislation in question may or may not be the right choice. However, in general terms, increasing the accuracy, availability, and for that matter the use, of forensic evidence must be a priority in New York.

    Your quoting of the second amendment is also taking it out of context. The second amendment relates to states having a well armed militia, like a national guard type force. This was a specific problem in the colonies when King George wanted the colonies to be defenseless against the excesses of his troops. The framers of our constitution in no way intended for this for this to be applied to stop any commence sense attempt to regulate gun violence, or to make it possible for us to hold perpetrators of gun violence accountable.