From the Heartland

This is my soap box, on these pages I publish my opinions on firearms and any other subject I feel like writing about.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Maryland State Police want the Ballisitic Fingerprinting law repealed

In a News release from the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, Alan Gotlieb reports that Maryland State Police;

In its progress report on the Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS), the Maryland State Police Forensic Sciences Division recommends that "this program be suspended, a repeal of the collection of cartridge cases from current law be enacted and the Laboratory Technicians associated with the program be transferred to the DNA database unit." So far, Maryland has spent $2.5 million over the past four years, with nothing to show for it. The report admitted, "Guns found to be used in the commission of crime...are not the ones being entered into" the system.
The original intent of the IBIS was to identify firearms used in crimes by having the firearms manufacturers provide a fired cartridge case for every firearm sold in Maryland.

As I have reported in the past, at this point in time it is an ineffective and scientifically unsound feel good measure that was doomed to failure from it's inception.

The gun grabbing populace that insist that schemes like this be adopted through out the states and at the federal level do not have a grasp on the physical aspects of basic metalurgy. Unlike human finger or retinal prints that never change, the simple fact that metal exists in an oxygenated atmosphere dictates that it will change. (Corosion)

In addition the actual use of the metalic object will change the structure of its existance.

Why ballistic finger printing does not work;
Firearms are metalic, Cartidge Cases are metalic, Projectiles are metalic.

Buy the time a new firearm is usually stolen, sold trough numorous hands and eventually used in a crime/s it has been fired and cleaned so much that it cannot be matched to a spent cartridge case provided to a Law enforcement Organization by the manufacturer.

Cartridge Cases and Chambers
When a firearm is discharged the softer brass metalic case swells in the harder steel metalic chamber. It is true that the harder machine marks of the steel chamber are embossed into the softer brass case and these markings can be immediately atributed to a specific firearm. However the constant insertion and removal of a soft brass case into and out of a hard steel chamber causes both metals to undergo changes. Over a period of time the machine marks in a steel chamber will be altered beyond recognition of the original cartridge case provided by the manufacturer.

Projectiles and Barrels
When a firearm is fired the softer metalic lead or copper jacket of the projectile is embossed with the lands, grooves and machine marks of the harder steel metalic barrel. Again it is true that the harder marks of the lands grooves and machine marks on a non deformed projectile can be immediately atributed to a specific firearm. The constant travel of projectiles through a barrel will over time will wear on the lands, grooves and machine marks making it impossible even after as few as fifty rounds to render indentification to a specific firearm possible.

Regular Maintance and Cleaning
The responsible and proper maintance and cleaning of a firearm will also change the microscopic structure of the chamber, bolt face, lands and grooves of a firearm. The fact that wire brushes are used to clean the various parts of a firearm that provide the ballistic fingerprints often negates matching a firearm with projectiles that were in fact fired from it.

People initially buy Firearms to Shoot Them
Individuals buy a new firearm to use it for a variety of activities such as hunting, target shooting, practice for personal or home protection. That the buyers use these firearms often discharging several hundred to several thousand rounds of ammunition there is no way that a fired cartridge case from a new firearm provided to IBIS can be matched to a firearm that has had an amount of ammunition fired through it.

This is why Maryland has nothing to show for the 2.5 million expended over a four year period and they admit it. How much more money has been wasted enacting scientifically unsound or unreliable laws at the behest of the Brady Bunch that could have been used in other areas to really make a difference in fighting crime?

Why Ballistic Comparison can and does work.
When a crime is commited forensic evidence in the form of spent projectiles and cartridge cases is often times recovered. Markings on the projectile, because of the different types of rifling and twists, may be identified as coming from a specific make of firearm or a narrow variety of firearms. It is possible to say that a projectile recovered from a crime scene was specifically fired from a Glock or Marlin.

This evidence, cases and projectiles, is microscopically examined and recorded and can be compared to and identified with evidence of the same type that has come or will come from other crime scenes.

The basic reason this verifiable comparison is possible is simply, that criminals gernerally do not expend a great deal of ammunition from their firearms.

Cartridge cases and/or projectiles discovered and typed at a crime scene can be attributed to a firearm used in a crime two years later mostly likely because those were the only two times that gun was fired in that two year time period.

Had that firearm been fired a few hundred times during that two year period it is highly unlikely or virtually impossible that a match could be made beyong the fact that the two firearms used were made by the same company.

I own a few firearms of the collectable variety that I have not shot in years. If you possessed a cartridge case from the last time I used that firearm I have no doubt that you could compare and match it to the very next round I expend from it.
Conversely I have a few that I use at the range with a certain regularity. I do not believe that you could match a cartridge case fired last week to a cartridge case fired from that firearm today. Scientific evidence provided by IBIS and in a California report of several years ago that the Attorney General sought to squelch prove that fact.

Ballistic Fingerprinting is a panacea whose time has not come. Will it? Maybe someday, but as long as cartridge cases, projectiles and firearms are manufactured using porous metalic compounds it is highly unlikely that it ever will.

Gunner at No Quarters has someting on this as well.

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