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Maryland Ends Ballistics Imaging Program And Provides A Lesson

GUNS AND GEAR

9:12 AM 04/17/2015

By Larry Keane, National Shooting Sports Foundation

Both houses of the Maryland General Assembly in the past week acted in near unanimity to end that state's decade-long dysfunctional experience with what was once billed as a crime scene investigative tool, but that was never used to solve a single crime. In fact, the ballistics imaging program now on its way out was unsupported by the very state police charged with operating it and had been unfunded for years.

And yet firearms manufacturers, Maryland's firearms retailers and law-abiding firearms purchasers continued to bear the costs of this ill-conceived and moribund program for years and will continue to do so until October when the collection of cartridge casings will finally cease. New York was the only other state to so encumber its state crime lab with unlamented ballistics imaging technology and had already discarded it as a costly failure that never solved a single crime in the Empire state.

Ballistics imaging didn't work and its would-be successor in the form of microstamping is similarly unready for crime labs anywhere anytime soon because it simply is impossible to implement. We are now fighting the legal battle against microstamping in California on behalf of manufacturers and California's firearms retailers but ultimately to benefit the Second Amendment rights of Californians.

Legislators in too many states have a tendency to leap before taking a good look. The result in Maryland and New York has been the now-discarded ballistics imaging distraction that law enforcement did not need and did not want. In the end, no one was served. Taxpayers footed the bill for those wasted efforts. In Maryland's case the costs won't be recovered by sending uncounted barrels of brass casings for recycling. Call it a lesson learned. Be wary of any technology touted as the panacea for solving gun crimes.

The implications of the continued pursuit of microstamping are even greater. On that score we will keep you posted.