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Microstamp technology is ineffective for law enforcement

FirearmsMaryland State PoliceNational Rifle Association of America

Your editorial "Getting down to brass tags" (June 14) left out a few facts that might give your readers a clearer view of the value of adding microstamping technology to pistols as a way of tracing spent shell-casings found at crime scenes to a particular handgun. Independent studies by the National Academy of Science, by the University of California at Davis, and by George Krivosta of the American Society of Firearm and Toolmark Examiners concluded the technology is underdeveloped, producing inaccurate results that are easily circumvented, either on purpose or by simple use of the firearm within a few number of rounds fired. Mandates to use this technology come from its sole-source inventor who stands to benefit substantially when firearm manufacturers must come to him to learn how to apply microstamping to their products. The cost of $12 per gun comes from advocates of the technology. Firearm manufacturers estimate the cost at around $200 per gun.

Maryland has already been down the road of requiring that a fired shell casing be provided for every pistol sold in the state (that being a simpler type of microstamping). That requirement has not produced a single criminal conviction in 15 years, and the Maryland State Police no longer enter the shell casings into a searchable database both because of the cost and lack of effectiveness of the technology. In fact, New York recently repealed its shell case requirement in order to use those funds to hire more state police, leaving Maryland as the only state that still retains this costly and ineffective requirement. Repeating the shell casing mistake with a more expensive, less reliable technology just wastes even more resources.

Your June 14 editorial refers to "the usual suspects in such matters, gun manufacturers and the National Rifle Association..." Presumedly the "usual suspects" do not include the National Academy of Science or UC Davis, but you could add misinformed editorialists to the list.

Jeff Reh, Accokeek

The writer is general counsel of Beretta U.S.A. Corp.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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