-- Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA)
Ballistic identification is the science of using a ballistic fingerprint to identify the specific firearm used in a shooting. A comprehensive ballistic identification system would connect a bullet or cartridge case recovered at a crime scene directly to the make, model and serial number of the gun from which that bullet or cartridge case was fired. In effect, comprehensive ballistic identification would allow police to trace a gun even before they recover that gun.
A confirmed link between a specific firearm and a bullet or cartridge case recovered from a crime scene constitutes a valuable lead, because investigators can then connect the firearm to its first purchaser, who may become either a suspect or a source of information helpful to the investigation.
A technology called "microstamping" is now making comprehensive ballistic identification a reality. Microstamping technology utilizes lasers to make microscopic engravings on the breech face and firing pin of a gun. As the gun is fired, a code identifying the weapon's serial number is stamped onto the cartridge. The technology promises to greatly aid law enforcement officials in investigating homicides and other gun crimes.
On October 13, 2007, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger made history by signing a first-of-its-kind microstamping bill into law. The District of Columbia enacted a similar microstamping law in January 2009. Several other states, and the U.S. Congress, are now considering microstamping legislation.
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|Resources for Advocates|
- American Bar Association resolution urging federal and state governments to adopt microstamping laws
- Research paper: Extracting Ballistic Forensic Intelligence: Microstamped Firearms Deliver Data for Illegal Firearm Traffic Mapping Technology
- Ed Fund memo: Microstamping Technology Proves its Worth...Again
- Testimony on microstamping by Ed Fund Executive Director Josh Horwitz before D.C. Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary
- September 2008 study on microstamping by co-inventors Todd Lizotte and Orest Ohar
- Ed Fund memo: Microstamping Technology: Precise and Proven
- Frequently Asked Questions about microstamping