Maryland's 'Ballistics Fingerprint' System Not Working, Report Says

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:05pm EDT

( - Maryland's "ballistics imaging" system isn't working and ought to be scrapped, says a report from the Maryland State Police.

A Maryland law that took effect in 2000 requires gun makers to test-fire all new handguns sold in the state so that each gun's "ballistic fingerprint" may be entered into a state database. Each fired shell casing has unique markings that police -- theoretically -- can use to identify guns that were used in crimes.

But as gun control opponents have long noted, the unique markings that gun barrels leave on shell casings can be easily altered, either deliberately or through wear on the gun. Second Amendment supporters say "ballistics imaging" systems amount to gun registration.

The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) is congratulating Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich's administration for releasing the findings of the Maryland State Police Forensic Sciences Division.

The report recommends that "this program be suspended, a repeal of the collection of cartridge cases from current law be enacted, and the Laboratory Technicians associated with the program be transferred to the DNA database unit."

CCRKBA says Maryland has spent $2.5 million over the past four years -- with nothing to show for it. "Guns found to be used in the commission of crime...are not the ones being entered into" the system, the state police report noted.

"By admission of the Maryland State Police, ballistics imaging doesn't work, and it appears to be a waste of money," said CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb in a press release.

"The Citizen's Committee and other gun rights groups have been saying all along that ballistics imaging was a fraud as a crime-prevention tool, and now it's also being proven as an ineffective crime-solving tool."

Gottlieb said taxpayers in every state need to know about the Maryland report so they can resist the "gun control zealots" who are pushing similar "ballistics imaging" programs in other state legislatures.

New York has a ballistics imaging program, which also should be scrapped, CCRKBA said, a move that would save taxpayers about $4-million a year.

"Taxpayers expect to have their money wisely spent on genuine anti-crime measures, not on some boondoggle that amounts to gun registration by another name," Gottlieb concluded.

See Earlier Story:
Maryland's Ballistic Fingerprinting System Proves Cumbersome (21 Jan. 2004)
Police Challenge Gun Control Advocates on Ballistics Imaging (29 Oct. 2002)

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