Oklahoma Bill takes Long, Hard look at Microstamping

Representative Dan Boren from Oklahoma has introduced a bill calling for a congressional study into firearm microstamping, a new technology that has gun rights and gun control advocates manning what are now familiar battle stations.

Microstamping (also going under the names ballistic imprinting and ballistic engraving) is a new piece of technology that can place a microscopic signature onto a guns’ firing pin with a sophisticated laser.  The stamp imprints each cartridge fired (as is already the case with any bullet fired) with the guns unique markings making the empty traceable by police forensic teams.  The study proposed in Boren’s bill would investigate whether or not microstamping would be a cost effective initiative in society’s fight against crime.

Gun control supporters say canvassing officers could use empty cartridges recovered at a crime scene and check their stamps in a database.  This would also open forensic opportunities for shotgun shells loaded with shot, which have previously been untraceable from a laboratory standpoint.  The database would then link the cartridges to the gun and therefore the gun owner, which supporters say could provide police with more evidence and may help police close more cases.

But opponents in Oklahoma file it under gun control and an infringement on their second amendment rights.  Possibly of greatest concern to the gun camp is that guns that don’t currently have a microstamp pin (like the ones in your gun safe), could easily be retrofitted with a microstamp signature.  The implications of a federally mandated “retrofitting” makes many gun owners nervous.

“If you are a criminal, why would you use a firearm that could come back to you?  Guns that are used in crimes are stolen firearms.  Bottom line is, it’s just a way to keep citizens law abiding, and bad guys aren’t going to care one way or another,” mused one member of arms industry residing in Oklahoma.

Though already voicing their skepticism (as seen in their response to the bill) the National Rifle Association has come out in support of Boren’s microstamping study as a means to gain scientific evidence as to the cost and effectiveness of microstamping.  Introduced in July of this year, bill just began its first stages earlier this month.