Letter to TIME magazine. RE: Ballistic Fingerprinting


George Hill
April 29, 2003, 03:48 PM
I sent the following to Time Magazine in response to something that I have just read. Perhaps I fired off the cuff, but I was/am ticked off.
I don't believe in Ballistic Fingerprinting. I think it's useless, and a wasted effort and expense.
Here is what I said.

On page 25 of the April 28, 2003 issue, there is a little article about Ballistic Fingerprinting.
The article was basically a criticism that the fingerprinting project has not begun yet.
How DARE a government agency put off spending millions and millions of dollars on a project based on a ludicrous idea.
Ballistic fingerprinting is useless.
Yes, a bullet passing through the barrel does pick up marks. But the problem is, and why the program will not work, is that unlike human fingerprints, the characteristics of that barrel change over time. They erode a bit by bit with every shot fired. They can change with a simple stroke of a metal bristled cleaning brush. Rifling can wear out completely from a barrel, given enough time. But unfortunately for this project, to render the fingerprint useless, you only need a tiny bit of change… perhaps one from a few boxes of ammo and one session at the firing range.
Let’s not forget the time honored method of “Fire Lapping” that is used to “Smooth Out” the rifling of a new barrel. Fire Lapping is used by most any competitive rifle shooter to improve the rifles accuracy. Just ask any good rifle competitor. This is in essence like sanding wood. This will forever change the microscoping markings that make up the fingerprint, rendering the effort to print it completely useless.
Unfortunately for American tax payers, rifling doesn’t heal and return to it’s original print like a human finger does. To anyone who has real knowledge of firearms, the idea of ballistic fingerprinting is as retarded as the idea of “finger printing” a set of tires for your vehicle. Sounds silly doesn’t it? Everyone who has driven a car for more than a year knows that tires just wear out and need replacing. Tires wear out fast, but it's the same thing with guns. But please, let’s ignore all the tire joints around town, and let’s study these tires too. After all, it might help in investigations of drunk drivers or stolen vehicles right?
But please, let’s take all measures necessary to pull the wool over the eyes of the masses of firearms ignorant taxpayers so we can spend tons of money on a useless program when instead we could use the money for something more useful… like funding enforcement of existing gun laws.

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Partisan Ranger
April 29, 2003, 04:06 PM
You're on the money. You could also point out that the ballistic fingerprinting boondoggles in MD and NY have cost 10s? of millions of dollars and have solved no crimes at all.

Very expensive to implement, of very limited value, tons of money being diverted from law enforcement, and infringes on the rights of law-abiding folks....gosh, what's not to like?

April 29, 2003, 04:17 PM
Well said George!

I know someone, whom while out of town, mailed a spent case and 1/2 of a $10 bill. "Gentlemen, when you find me you get the other 1/2 of this $10 bill."

Last I heard, this fellow is still waiting .


Partisan Ranger
April 29, 2003, 04:33 PM
Anyone who is intellectually honest and actually thinks about this knows it would never work. It would be so simple for criminals to alter a gun's 'fingerprint.' Yet again, the only people who would obey are law-abiding people.

That's why so few crimes are committed by people with CCWs (oh, sure, the Brady guys can find a few, but they are just that - FEW). People with CCWs are by definition obeyers of the law. It logically follows that only people who generally abide by the law are going to go through the rigamorole of obtaining a permit.

April 29, 2003, 04:39 PM
Well said.

April 29, 2003, 04:46 PM
I contacted a firearms/toolmark examiner and asked about ballistic fingerprinting. His reponse was:
and told me he'd tell me why it didn't work but his fingers were too tired to type several pages and the list just goes on.

He concluded by telling me that firearms examiners are "Pro-gun, anti-idiot." :D

Standing Wolf
April 29, 2003, 05:58 PM
Well said.

Time is just another leftist extremist propaganda rag.

April 29, 2003, 06:20 PM
Very well said. I doubt they will, but let us know if they print any or all of your letter. The only problem I had with your letter was...
Fire Lapping is used by most any competitive rifle shooter to improve the rifles accuracy. Just ask any good rifle competitor. but, hey that's just me.

April 29, 2003, 07:29 PM
let's see. Amendment to the bill about ballistic finger printing should include verbiage making it illegal for the purchaser of an Archived firearm to alter it in any way. Words like;
shall not fire lap, clean, shoot come to my mind.

That will make the anti's argument much more supportable.

Go get em George!

April 29, 2003, 07:44 PM
Tire prints left at crime scenes have been used like finger prints to prove that a particular vehicle was involved in a crime. It can be useful, but it can also be easily defeated. Most criminals aren't smart enough to cross the street alone, but dumping a stolen gun in a landfill is all it would take to make the system useless. Nothing's perfect.

Some of the folks against Ballistic Fingerprinting are the same folks who have posted the serial number of one of their guns on the Internet.:confused: What makes a National database intrusive, but broadcasting the make, model, caliber and serial number over the Internet okay?:scrutiny:

George Hill
April 29, 2003, 08:29 PM
Of course they have, Blade...
But after the fact and the tire print, or shoe print was taken at the time of the crime investigation... not before it left the factory.
25,000 miles later, the unique tire imprints are different and such evidence would do investigators little or no help other than "Yup, it's a Goodyear."

Partisan Ranger
April 30, 2003, 09:04 AM
If this flawed idea would have the effect that advocates say, I would consider it.

But it is just another onerous gun law that is going to fall heavily on the backs of the law-abiding.

If they got a database going on new firearms, how many years would it be before they passed laws requiring us to bring in older firearms? 5 years maybe?

April 30, 2003, 09:15 AM
reckon -if sent to another agency that does BF...the two of them could match up a ten-spot?

nah :D

who me...what guns?

April 30, 2003, 11:44 AM
Sirs, again and again

this has NOTHING to do with crime solving! It's just another step to register ALL guns and finally CONFISCATE the guns of law abiding "citizens" (criminals will ALWAYS have guns).

ALL the "gun-laws" are criminal protection laws. The government NEED the criminals because they scare the sheeple and the politicians are thus allowed to create more laws to disarm the "citizenry". As far as I know, the handgun-registration here in Clark County didn't help in a single case and we have some gang wars and shootings every week (14 last month). It JUST PROVIDES MORE GOVERNMENT!

That makes the "politicians" safe in their power. Can you imagine you and 10 of your co-workers are going to your boss and say, hey, we need to raise our wages $ 5,000.00 starting next month? Guess who is already able to do that!

Gun control has nothing to do with guns, crime protection, and crime solving, BUT WITH CONTROL!

This is why "liberals" (actually "intolerants") don't want to deal with logic.

Sad :fire:

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