HotAir has this piece today on what’s been an ongoing fight for years now with regards to backdoor gun laws.
One story out this month hits pretty close to home for me, both figuratively and literally. It involves the Remington Arms plant located in Ilion, a village in upstate New York. They are currently battling a pending move by the state government which would force them to put laser etched microstamps on the firing pins of all their weapons, driving costs through the roof.
From the FOX story that they link to:
Two venerable American gun manufacturers — Remington and Colt — could head for the West their weapons helped win if New York and Connecticut force them to implement microstamping technology.
Microstamping, or ballistic imprinting, is a patented process that uses laser technology to engrave a tiny marking of the make, model and serial number on the tip of a gun’s firing pin to allow an imprint of that information on spent cartridge cases. Supporters of the technology say it will be a “game changer,” allowing authorities to quickly identify the registered guns used in crimes. Opponents claim the process is costly, unreliable and may ultimately impact the local economies that heavily depend on the gun industry, including Ilion, N.Y., where Remington Arms maintains a factory, and Hartford, Conn., where Colt’s manufacturing is headquartered.
I’ve put the key words in bold.
HotAir and the FOX story both list a myriad of reasons why microstamping fails, from the fact that firing pins can be swapped, to the fact that it won’t make a difference on guns that don’t leave brass, to the fact any brass left at a firing range can then be used to incriminate non-criminals (the same way Ted Kaczynski famously went to barber shops to gather random hairs to put in his letters), it’s so flawed it’s almost laughable among those who understand firearms, but the most important fact is that it’s a patented process.
There’s one guy – Todd Lizotte – who stands to benefit millions upon millions upon millions if he can get the government to force firearms manufacturers to mandate his process. He’s got all the anti-rights activists behind him that want citizens rendered defenseless and gun companies destroyed, and he’s got his own desire to line his pockets with millions and millions in loot.
Even though the Lizotte reportedly says he wants his patent to expire and the technology to enter the public domain, he stands to reap the significant rewards as a consultant to those many firearms manufacturers that would be faced with the challenge of optimizing the microstamping process.
Optimization would not be a one-time procedure, but rather would be required each a time a company retooled because of wear and tear on parts and machinery. Legislation that would mandate and reward the use of sole-sourced, patented technology should also be closely scrutinized, and microstamping does not hold up to that scrutiny.
The Times’ article quoted divergent estimates of how microstamping would affect the retail price of firearms, with industry estimating costs would increase by $200 per firearm and microstamping advocates putting the cost at $12 per gun.
He won’t let the patent expire. He’ll make millions upon millions on a process that does not and cannot work, but that government will force the industry to adopt.
AFTE here is the Association of Firearms and Toolmark Examiners, a professional journal.
Surely, the manufacturers are in a better position to estimate their costs of implementing this process, which would require assembling firearms with a unique set of parts rather than in a batch process of interchangeable parts, as the AFTE paper points out.
Even if microstamping were adopted in New York and worked as claimed, it would not be the crime-solving solution its proponents suggest. Most guns used in crime are stolen. Many guns used to commit crimes in New York State were originally sold at retail outside the state. In New York firearms recovered by law enforcement were originally lawfully sold on average almost 14 years before being recovered by the police.
As result, even if microstamping were adopted in New York, shell casings recovered at crime scenes would be very unlikely to have microstamping marks. And it would be about 14 years before casings start showing up at crime scenes in New York with markings that would be largely illegible.
Implementing microstamping is also not without cost to the taxpayer. In order to examine the illegible micro laser engraved markings on cartridge casings New York State crime labs would be need to purchase special scanning electronic microscopes which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
His own defense of microstamping makes no sense, and bears the kind of fundamental lack of understanding of guns, crime, law, the Constitution, and overall makes as much sense as a desperate man drooling over millions and millions of dollars can make… that is to say, he can’t even make his own sentences work. “I am bias.” – Todd Lizotte. Yes, yes you are.
Update 5/19/2013: Noted in the comments by Mr. Frey, it looks like Lizotte may have let the patent expire.