Thursday, May 22, 2008

Lawmaker support for bullet stamping mixed

With Democrats making a concerted push for tougher gun controls, one Assembly measure to trace bullets through “microstamping” got support from law enforcement Monday.

Saratoga County District Attorney James Murphy III, a Republican who is president of the state District Attorneys Association, said at a news conference that its membership has unanimously endorsed the bill proposed by Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel, D-Great Neck. Lloyd Perkins, president of the New York Association of Chiefs of Police, also endorsed the measure.

The bill would require semiautomatic pistols manufactured or legally sold in New York to be equipped with a device that stamps a code identifying the gun on cartridges as they are fired. The idea is that police will be able to use sale records to trace the weapon from bullet casings left at crime scenes, even if the gun itself is not recovered.
Murphy said: “We need every piece of evidence that we can. We need every piece of technology that we can.”

Proponents said the cost of the new technology would be less than $3 per gun, and co-inventor Todd Lizotte, who attended Schimel’s news conference at the state police academy, said he would waive royalty payments in New York.

But Jake McGuigan, director of government relations for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, said industry cost estimates are much higher, up to $200 per gun. He and other opponents, including Assemblyman Greg Ball, R-Carmel, said the technology is too untried and unreliable to be enacted into law.

Gov. David Paterson, who released his own proposed guncontrol measures Monday, apparently has similar reservations about microstamping. Erin Duggan, a spokeswoman for the Democratic governor, issued a statement praising Schimel but adding that her legislation was not included in Paterson’s program bill “because while microstamping holds promise as an investigative tool, the technology needs further study before it can be required by the state.”

Schimel’s law enforcement support is not quite as extensive as she stated. The Schenectady Police Department was listed as one of numerous endorsers on the basis of a memorandum in support prepared by Schimel’s office and signed by Assistant Police Chief Michael Seber. Seber attended a demonstration of the technology Monday at the state police academy, but left before the news conference. Schenectady Police Commissioner Wayne Bennett, a former state police superintendent, said the Schenectady Police Department has not endorsed the bill, and Seber was there to get more information about microstamping.

Contacted later, Seber said he made a mistake in signing the departmental endorsement, and would contact Schimel’s offi ce to retract it. Speaking on his own behalf, he said the bill sounds like a good idea because “any little thing helps” in getting information to law enforcement. But he said that to be really effective, a microstamping requirement needs to be passed at the federal level because most of the guns used illegally in Schenectady come from out of state.

A federal microstamping bill is sponsored by Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and is opposed by the National Rifle Association. Opponents note that most guns used in homicides are acquired illegally, so finding the last legal owner would not lead directly to the killer.

State police were not asked to support the bill because they have a policy of not making endorsements, a Schimel aide said. But the news conference was held at the academy’s firing range, where, in a demonstration, a trooper fired a pistol and his shell casings were shown to carry the microstamping.

The Assembly has passed Schimel’s bill (A9819A) along with a package of other gun-control measures. Prospects do not appear good for Senate passage.

Sen. Martin Golden, R-Brooklyn, regards microstamping as a promising technology but has various questions about its cost and accuracy that will be addressed through a “study bill” he intends to introduce this session, his spokesmen said.

Schimel said Golden had previously been supportive, but “I think the [Republican Senate] leadership got to him.”

The press office of Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick, did not respond to a request for comment."

So at the very LEAST, all criminals need do is A.) Police their brass, or B.) Use a revolver.

Man, but thats a toughie. And since but of course this "technology" wouldn't be mandatory for police departments, add a C to the above. Steal more guns from cops.

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