Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

"Micro-Stamping" (Summary)

Friday, September 26, 2008

In 1969, President Lyndon B. Johnson's National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence recommended "a system of giving each gun a number and the development of some device to imprint this number on each bullet fired from the gun." In modern form, the concept, now termed "micro-stamping," theorizes that a firearm's firing pin or other internal parts could bear microscopic codes unique to the firearm and imprint the codes on fired cartridge cases, that the codes could be entered into a computerized database before the firearm leaves the factory, and that police investigators could pick up a cartridge case left at a crime scene, identify the markings on the case, run them against the database, and identify the criminal involved. "Micro-stamping" legislation supporters claim it will help police solve crimes, but their real purpose is to price handguns beyond the reach of many Americans, by requiring firearms to be made with the gadgetry necessary to create the markings, or to ban handguns by requiring that they "micro-stamp" more consistently than is technologically possible.

In 2007, California adopted a "micro-stamping" law that, as of 2010, will prohibit, as an "unsafe handgun," newly-designed semi-automatic pistols not equipped with two or more internal parts that imprint, onto the cartridge case of a fired round of ammunition, a microscopic array of characters that identify the pistol's make, model and serial number.1

In 2008, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) introduced a bill, supported by Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), to require "micro-stamping" technology in new handguns. Another bill (H.R.1874), by Rep. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.), proposes to prohibit any firearm that doesn't "micro-stamp" with every type of ammunition, every time.

Problems with "Micro-Stamping"

  • "Micro-stamping" has repeatedly failed in tests. In 2006, a study at the University of California (Davis) concluded, "At the current time it is not recommended that a mandate for implementation of this technology in all semiautomatic handguns in the state of California be made."2 Results of the study were consistent with earlier peer-reviewed tests published by the Association of Firearms and Toolmarks Examiners.3Firearms examiner George Krivosta, of the Suffolk County, N.Y., crime lab, found that the "vast majority" of "micro-stamped" characters in the alphanumeric serial number couldn't be read on "any of the expended cartridge cases generated and examined."
  • "Micro-stampings" are easily removed. In the tests noted above, firing pins were removed in minutes, and serial numbers were obliterated in less than a minute, with household tools.
  • Most gun crimes cannot be solved by "micro-stamping," or do not require "micro-stamping" to be solved. Most gun crimes do not involve shots being fired, thus there are no cartridge cases for police to recover. Also, a large percentage of gun crimes involve guns that don't eject fired cartridge cases. Notwithstanding TV shows that portray crime-solving as impossible without high-technology, most crimes can be solved by traditional means. For example, of murders in which the victim-offender relationship is known, 77% involve family members, friends and other acquaintances. Only 23% involve strangers.4
  • Most criminals get guns through unregulated channels. According to the BATFE, 88% of crime guns are acquired through unregulated channels, and the median time between a crime gun's acquisition and its use in crime is 6.6 years.5 According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, most criminals get guns via theft or the black market.6
  • "Micro-stamping" would increase gun thefts, home invasions and burglaries, and expand the black market in guns. Criminals would be further encouraged to get guns illegally, if guns bought legally would be linked to them in a computerized database.
  • Most guns do not automatically eject fired cartridge cases. Revolvers can fire five or more rounds without fired cases being ejected. Pump-action, bolt-action, lever-action and other types of guns eject fired cases only if the user manually operates the gun's unloading mechanism.
  • Only a small percentage of guns would be "micro-stamped." There are 250+ million guns in the country.7 New guns sold annually account for only 2% of that total, and new semi-automatic pistols less than 0.5%.8
  • Most violent crimes don't involve guns. According to the FBI, 3/4 of violent crimes, including 1/3 of murders and 3/5 of robberies, are committed without guns.9
  • "Micro-stamping" would waste money better spent on traditional crime-fighting and crime-solving efforts. The cost of a computerized database to track "micro-stamped" handguns would be passed along to all consumers, including law enforcement agencies. It would require a redesign of the handgun manufacturing process, and could require payment of licensing fees to the sole-source "micro-stamping" patent holder.
  • "Micro-stamping" would expose police departments to lawsuits if officers fired "unsafe handguns." Departments would have to spend money destroying all cases fired in training, to prevent cases from being reused at crime scenes. Criminals could obtain fired cases from practice ranges, and use them to "seed" crime scenes, to confuse investigators. 

1. California has repeatedly expanded its "unsafe handgun" ban. In 2001, it defined "unsafe handguns" as those that did not pass a drop test and a live-fire/malfunction test, and that did not have certain types of mechanical safeties. In 2006, the ban was extended to semi-automatic pistols that did not have a loaded chamber indicator or a magazine disconnect. In 2007, it was extended to semi-automatic pistols that do not have an indicator and a disconnect.

2. David Howitt, et al., "What Laser Machining Technology Adds to Firearm Forensics: How Viable are Micro-Marked Firing Pins as Evidence?," 2007.

3. George G. Krivosta, "NanoTagTM Markings From Another Perspective," 38 AFTE Journal 41, 2006.

4. FBI, http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2006/offenses/expanded_information/data/shrtable_09.html.

5. BATFE, Crime Gun Trace Reports 2000, National Report, http://www.atf.gov/firearms/ycgii/2000/highlights.pdf.

6. Bureau of Justice Statistics, "Firearm Use by Offenders," http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov./bjs/pub/pdf/fuo.pdf.

7. National Research Council, Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review, National Academies Press, 2005.

8. BATF, "Firearms Commerce in the United States 2001/2002," http://www.atf.gov/pub/index.htm - Firearms.

9. FBIhttp://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2007/offenses/violent_crime/index.html.

IN THIS ARTICLE
Ammunition "Micro-stamping"
TRENDING NOW
California Using Tax Dollars to Racially Profile Gun Owners

News  

Monday, August 15, 2022

California Using Tax Dollars to Racially Profile Gun Owners

California gun owners have been under siege for the past year - even by the not-so-Golden State’s standards. In September 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom (D) signed AB-173, which allows for the disclosure of highly sensitive ...

Canada’s Liberals Bypass Parliament to Further Gun Control Agenda

News  

Monday, August 15, 2022

Canada’s Liberals Bypass Parliament to Further Gun Control Agenda

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government introduced Bill C-21, proposing a permanent freeze on the sale, transfer and import of handguns in Canada. The bill remains at the initial stages and did not pass prior to ...

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

California: Appropriations Committees Pass Anti-Gun Bills to Floor

Friday, August 12, 2022

California: Appropriations Committees Pass Anti-Gun Bills to Floor

Yesterday, the Appropriations Committees of both chambers considered bills previously placed on the suspense file. SB 505, which would have required gun owners to carry insurance and held them strictly civilly liable, was held in committee, while the ...

Supreme Court Signals It May Rein In Federal Rulemakers

News  

Monday, August 8, 2022

Supreme Court Signals It May Rein In Federal Rulemakers

While most of the attention from the end of the United States Supreme Court’s last term focused on several landmark cases, including a major win for gun owners in the NRA-supported case New York State Rifle ...

Oregon: Faulty Gun Control Ballot Measure Summary Approved

Friday, August 12, 2022

Oregon: Faulty Gun Control Ballot Measure Summary Approved

This week, the Explanatory Statement Committee approved Ballot Measure 114’s (formerly IP 17) summary that will appear in the voter pamphlet.

Another Good Guy with a Gun Stops the Bad Guy

News  

Monday, July 25, 2022

Another Good Guy with a Gun Stops the Bad Guy

On July 19, 22-year-old Elisjsha Dicken was shopping with his girlfriend at the Greenwood Park Mall in Greenwood, Ind. when a gunman armed with a rifle opened fire in the food court. Upon witnessing the ...

When Seconds Count, the Police are Only Hours Away

News  

Monday, August 8, 2022

When Seconds Count, the Police are Only Hours Away

After violent unrest and looting in 2020 that Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot admitted had “spread like wildfire” throughout parts of Chicago, the mayor nonetheless “urged Chicagoans not to take matters into their own hands in this concealed ...

House-Passed Gun Ban Shows the Importance of the Election This November

News  

Monday, August 1, 2022

House-Passed Gun Ban Shows the Importance of the Election This November

On Friday, after a last-minute rule change to allow its consideration, the United States House of Representatives passed H.R. 1808.

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Monday, June 30, 2014

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.