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Blocking Gun Laws With Patents

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the patent-attorneys-are-mightier-than-the-sword dept.

Crime 1165

New submitter robkeeney writes "Legislators in several states are working on laws that would require certain gun manufacturers to implement 'microstamping' to help law enforcement solve gun crimes. 'Lasers engrave a unique microscopic numeric code on the tip of a gun’s firing pin and breech face. When the gun is fired, the pressure transfers markings to the shell casing and the primer. By reading the code imprinted on casings found at a crime scene, police officers can identify the gun and track it to the purchaser, even when the weapon is not recovered.' As with any gun-related legislation, many people oppose these new laws. In California, a law passed in 2007 requires that when microstamping (which is easily defeat-able) is no longer patent encumbered, all new guns in CA must use it. To fight it, an organization called the Calguns Foundation paid a fee to extend the patent in order to prevent the law from going into effect."

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1165 comments

Damn! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315349)

Luckily I reload all shots myself that I use in crimes.
Additionally I use revolver or if I use a pistol, I use a brass catcher.
So dear murderers, get replacement firing pins now, before you have to order them in Canada.

Re:Damn! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315435)

So dear murderers, get replacement firing pins now, before you have to order them in Canada.

I just pick up brass at the police range and reload it when I murder people.

No need for extra firing pins, though; a bit of sandpaper is all that is needed to remove the microstamping. But that would be illegal, and we all know criminals wouldn't dare break the law before they go out to murder someone.

I don't believe the lawmakers could really be this retarded; there has to be some other reason they're pushing for this law (perhaps just general harassment of gun owners?).

Re:Damn! (5, Insightful)

nschubach (922175) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315765)

(perhaps just general harassment of gun owners?)

That's my vote. Make it annoying to carry (it already pretty much is) and law abiding citizens will just not do it.

Re:Damn! (0, Troll)

mozumder (178398) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315781)

No need for extra firing pins, though; a bit of sandpaper is all that is needed to remove the microstamping.

Criminals aren't going to stand around the crime scene, collect the casings, sandpaper them off, and put them back on the ground, before running off.

Really, you gun-nuts need to get a clue.

The best thing, of course, is to just ban guns from the country. Grab them from every household. The gun-nuts can easily get a different hobby, such as gardening. And government can train them to not live in constant fear for their lives, like we liberal gun-grabbers do.

The 2nd Amendment wasn't for your personal liberty. You do not have any personal liberty, something the libertarians don't understand. Everyone gets to live in the structure defined for them by society. Living inside the Matrix is no less valid than living outside the Matrix.

Re:Damn! (5, Insightful)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315835)

Criminals aren't going to stand around the crime scene, collect the casings, sandpaper them off, and put them back on the ground, before running off.

Why would anyone sandpaper the casings? They'd just sandpaper the firing pin and the breech face - before heading off to kill someone.

The 2nd Amendment wasn't for your personal liberty.

If you don't like the 2nd, just say so openly, and campaign for its abolition. Why do you feel the urge to engage in sophistry to argue that it doesn't say something that it obviously does?

Re:Damn! (5, Insightful)

Githaron (2462596) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315847)

The best thing, of course, is to just ban guns from the country.

Do you have a magical box or something? How do you keep guns out of the hands of criminals? There would be a black market. The criminals are the ones you need to worry about having guns not law-abiding citizens. Also, why is banning guns from the country "the best thing"?

Re:Damn! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315849)

Sandpaper the firing pin genius, not it's output.

Re:Damn! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315851)

No need for extra firing pins, though; a bit of sandpaper is all that is needed to remove the microstamping.

Criminals aren't going to stand around the crime scene, collect the casings, sandpaper them off, and put them back on the ground, before running off.

Note he said "remove the microstamping", not "remove the imprint of the microstamping". You sand down the firing pin, not the casings.

Really, you anti-gun nuts need to pay attention and try to think logically.

Re:Damn! (1)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315865)

No need for extra firing pins, though; a bit of sandpaper is all that is needed to remove the microstamping.

Criminals aren't going to stand around the crime scene, collect the casings, sandpaper them off, and put them back on the ground, before running off.

And why would they, when they can sand the microstamping off the firing pin in their leisure time at home, before they go out to kill?

Re:Damn! (0)

chstwnd (1751702) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315937)

you, sir, are an idiot.

Re:Damn! (2)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315805)

Even better - pick up brass from any sporting/shooting event. Be sure to reload using cartridges from three different widely-separated gun ranges.

Good luck with that.

The firing pin? Anyone with even a half-assed mechanical shop and a small metal lathe can make new pins by the dozen: "Oh, sorry Ossifer, my pin broke and this was cheaper."

Besides... barrel rifling already makes a fingerprint-like marking on the shell/slug/bullet, and that's going to be a hell of a lot more useful in identifying the gun it was shot from than any other method thought up so far...

Re:Damn! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315653)

Luckily I reload all shots myself that I use in crimes. Additionally I use revolver or if I use a pistol, I use a brass catcher. So dear murderers, get replacement firing pins now, before you have to order them in Canada.

Replacement parts is easy. This law is aimed at thug niggers who don't have sense enough to think of that.

Re:Damn! (1)

Kindgott (165758) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315763)

I guess it's time to find out which handguns are most popularly used for crime and then start a company selling brass catchers for them. And then the government will ban sales of brass catchers.

utter pointlessness (5, Insightful)

Cederic (9623) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315391)

So... file the firing pin?
Buy a gun from outside CA and bring it in?
Laser engrave some other sod's ID?
Hold a firing pin party?

It sounds like a horrendous waste of time and money, whether you want gun control or not. Ineffective legislation is the worse of all outcomes.

Re:utter pointlessness (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315455)

politicians proving their worth (?) or lack thereof

Re:utter pointlessness (0)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315611)

Their brains are what the "micro" actually refers to.

Re:utter pointlessness (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315475)

Indeed! Yet another piece of legislation that will not impact the bad guys in any way but will increase costs and inconvenience to law abiding citizens.

Re:utter pointlessness (0)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315525)

Increased cost? Yes... Inconvenience? How, other than a larger cost?

Re:utter pointlessness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315621)

He didn't say inconvenient, he said waste of time and money passing pointless laws.

The real goal here is to drive up the cost of guns, and probably require it on older guns at some later time (effectively making most unusable because of the prohibitive cost).

Re:utter pointlessness (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315731)

You're an idiot.

probably require it on older guns at some later time (effectively making most unusable because of the prohibitive cost).

Probably? Get a fucking clue. That has never happened. Will never happen.

If that's the only argument you can come up with do the human race a favor and kill yourself, I don't care if you use a new or old gun. Just do it ASAP.

Re:utter pointlessness (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315827)

He didn't say inconvenient, he said waste of time and money passing pointless laws.

He said it would be an inconvenience (which would be inconvenient):
and inconvenience to law abiding citizens." [slashdot.org]

The real goal here is to drive up the cost of guns

Oh heaven forbid! We need cheap guns!

Re:utter pointlessness (3, Informative)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315791)

It may not be obvious now, but whenever you deal with firearms, it is inconvenient.

There is NO room for error when dealing with firearms laws. If I'm late on getting my car's registration renewed, I can get hit with a $25 fine.

If I am late on getting that pistol that sits in a locked box in the back of my closet and hasn't been opened in 2 years renewed... I can be charged with a LOT of crimes which carry VERY stiff penalties. (which ones, I don't know... but I'm sure I wouldn't like it)

The point is, whenever there is a compliance law relating to firearms, you have to be absolutely anal retentive about getting EVERYTHING PERFECT. Even if you think you got everything right, what if you didn't and you end up somehow carrying an 'illegal' firearm and get subject to minimum sentencing laws?

With this stamping technology, what happens if I need to change a component in my firearm? Will I be able to do it the old fashioned way and just replace the part myself, or will I have to take it to a repair shop specifically licensed to do the work and then re-register with the police?

The point being, with the extreme penalties surrounding firearms, even simple laws makes people trying to follow the law have to take more care than most would believe. Hell, I've asked some cop friends and they admit that it's hard to be 100% legal.

Re:utter pointlessness (3, Insightful)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315811)

Increased cost? Yes... Inconvenience? How, other than a larger cost?

  1. Your gun is stolen and used in a crime. The cops come looking for you.
  2. When selling your gun to someone else, add on the cost and time of changing the micro-code registration.
  3. When the paperwork for a legal sale gets lost, and the buyer uses the gun in a crime, police come looking for you.
  4. When the paperwork is lost, and the new owner has his gun stolen and used in a crime, the cops come looking for you, then you finger the buyer, so double the fun and double the inconvenience for twice as many people.
  5. When your "helpful" "friend" helps you police your brass at the shooting range and then drops a few casings at his next shooting, he's effectively framed you.
  6. When the market for old guns explodes and it becomes harder and more expensive to buy one, it both costs money and time.
  7. If you are trying to repair your gun, having to buy a new registered firing pin instead of someone's cheaper and readily available used one.

Re:utter pointlessness (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315481)

What makes this ineffective. All laws don't have to solve all problems.

In NY, this would amount to possessing a defaced firearm, A class C felony. Some criminals would ignore this and remove it anyway, just like a normal serial number, but saying that this would not help solve some crimes is just wrong.

Re:utter pointlessness (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315581)

So explain how a criminal who is going to kill someone with malice aforethought is going to fucking worry whether he's committing a class C felony as he's doing the act when the penalty may very well get him executed?

What would stop someone who knows some guy with a machine shop from etching *different* numbers on the end of a firing pin with a die-sinking EDM?

This law is worse than useless. It gives a false sense of security that law enforcement can look at shell casing and identify who owned the gun used in a crime.

--
BMO

Re:utter pointlessness (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315645)

criminal who is going to kill someone with malice aforethought
Not all crimes are committed with malice aforethought. The parent's point stands.

Re:utter pointlessness (1)

Githaron (2462596) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315901)

The criminals that don't plan things out would probably get caught anyway.

Re:utter pointlessness (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315685)

The point of this law is NOT to solve crimes. Its point is to harrass otherwise law abiding gun owners, hopefully making criminals out of them for violating increasing complex legal rules. It could possibly be used to declare all existing firearms unsafe, requiring purchase of a registered firearm facilitating the destruction of the existing stock of arms which are generally unknown to the government. All guns and gun owners would then be subject to regulation or jailed. And I'm not saying this is desirable, or legal under the existing US Constitution.

Re:utter pointlessness (5, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315745)

"What would stop someone who knows some guy with a machine shop from etching *different* numbers on the end of a firing pin with a die-sinking EDM?"

Ahhh, the sheltered suburbanite slashdot demographic, blessedly unfamiliar with the real world...

Guys, the vast majority of criminals are not planning out everything with meticulous detail. In fact, most criminals are criminals because they are uneducated and never learned impulse control, and act irrationally and emotionally. They're not going to forge different numbers on the gun. The vast majority of them will not understand even the basic structure of the gun in the first place.

Re:utter pointlessness (2)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315893)

They're not going to forge different numbers on the gun.

Nope. They either won't care because they've stolen the gun themselves and the coding points to some law abiding citizen, or the streetcorner gun dealer will tack on ten dollars for the added feature of scraping the coding of the Saturday night special off. (And yes, the Saturday night special is a revolver, typically, that doesn't drop brass at a shooting and thus it won't matter.)

The only people you will catch are those who are not career criminals and have probably left enough other clues that the coding isn't necessary. Remember, all it takes to defeat this law is to simply pick up your brass when you shoot someone. Or steal the gun to start with.

Re:utter pointlessness (1)

Tanktalus (794810) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315915)

You're right. They're going to be using a weapon that was received in a less-than-legal manner in the first place, and either their fence will have fixed this for them (the fence is smarter - they're generally not in harm's way, which is a much smarter place to be) or, even if it's not removed, it will merely tie back to the original, legal owner, who likely had it stolen. Then you have to solve the theft, first, assuming the cops are smart enough to believe the victim instead of accusing them of the murder, and then figure out the fence, find him, and find out who he sold to (he probably isn't keeping meticulous records, though I'm sure some do).

So you're going to nab a) crimes of passion (not generally high on the repeat-offender list), and b) guys dumb enough to use their legally-purchased weapons in otherwise premeditated offenses. All low-hanging fruit, relatively speaking. While the group in (a) needs appropriate punishment for their actions, they're not generally a threat to the world at large. And those in (b) are likely going to be caught anyway even without this new law.

You don't really need to go too far up the intelligence tree to find guys using stolen weapons for their crime. At which point, this does very little. About the best it can do is improve the ability to link crimes together (you have to go MUCH further up the intelligence tree to find guys using a new weapon for each crime once fired).

Re:utter pointlessness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315945)

you grossly underestimate the number of 'ghetto gunsmiths' there are.

Re:utter pointlessness (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315897)

So explain how a criminal who is going to kill someone with malice aforethought is going to fucking worry whether he's committing a class C felony as he's doing the act when the penalty may very well get him executed?

Not all crimes are committed with malice aforethought and not all ones that do are perpetrated by criminals who think of every little detail...which is why the vast majority of them are caught.

What would stop someone who knows some guy with a machine shop from etching *different* numbers on the end of a firing pin with a die-sinking EDM?

Well then the guy with the machine shop is committing the felony.

This law is worse than useless. It gives a false sense of security that law enforcement can look at shell casing and identify who owned the gun used in a crime.

It doesn't give a false sense of security at all, it just means they can potentially do that, and given the amount of dumbass idiot criminals out there it will probably work in a hell of a lot of cases.

Re:utter pointlessness (2)

ichthus (72442) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315587)

but saying that this would not help solve some crimes is just wrong.

No, it isn't. The ID on brass probably won't even be admissible in court for the reason that brass gets reused all the time. Any would-be criminal's defense would be, "I fired those rounds at the firing range, and the REAL murderer retrieved them from the floor, reloaded them and used them to commit the crime."

Re:utter pointlessness (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315789)

Most rounds have a primer. The firing pin strikes the primer. When a fired round is reloaded, the old primer is removed and thrown away and a new primer is installed. Now, the REAL murder could take some of these brass casings and thrown them around at the crime scene.

It is not useless. Why is DNA evidence admissible? Someone can steal your hair from your bathroom and plant it. The judge/jury must understand all the evidence (not just one) and believe the person is guilty. A case never has just one piece of evidence (physical or testimonial).

My only problem with this legislation is that it implies a database of guns->gun owners. If that database is not in this legislation, it will be.

Well that presumably shouldn't be a problem (3, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315813)

As the firing pin hits the primer, and that you don't reuse, you get a new primer to put in the case. As I said in another post a more real problem would just be people getting new firing pins. You can order them online and people do. Some AR enthusiasts like to keep an extra firing pin and bolt with them since those are the most likely things to go wrong. If they do, swap them out, go back to plinking.

Re:utter pointlessness (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315855)

I may be a bit ignorant, but I believe the cap is replaced during the reload so the serial number would be thrown out with the spent cap.

Re:utter pointlessness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315733)

What happens when the numbers wear off of the firing pin after a few hundred rounds?

I know the firing pin on my pistol has some visible wear, and it's fairly even across the face. If they're engraving deeply enough to last through a few years of normal target practice, then i'd be worried about how much durability is lost in the process.

Re:utter pointlessness (2)

dwillden (521345) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315739)

Forget intentionally "defacing" the firearm, just put a few thousand rounds through it and normal wear and tear on the pin will eliminate the etching. Firing pins often wear overtime and are often replaced from time to time. This law is useless, and does nothing to protect anyone from criminal activities.

Re:utter pointlessness (0, Troll)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315545)

File the firing pin? Good luck getting the gun to fire reliably after that. Buy the gun outside CA? Sure, but that's why there's a push for all the states to have firing pin tech. Laser engrave some other dudes ID on it? Man, if you can do that, you wouldn't be need to kill dudes with a gun--you'd laser them. A firing pin party? Sure. Let's give your pin to someone else and be responsible for whatever they did. "How did they end up with your firing pin?" "Uh, I gave it to him." "Why?" "Second Amendment rights, uh." "Let's go down to the station to clear this up..."

Re:utter pointlessness (4, Informative)

livewire98801 (916940) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315665)

File the firing pin? Good luck getting the gun to fire reliably after that.

The amount of filing required is far less than the tolerances for getting the round to fire. Actually, one of the biggest critiques of this law is that a few magazines into the gun's life does all the "filing" you need.

then the bad guy will get the gun from Mexico (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315715)

then the bad guy will get the gun from Mexico

Re:utter pointlessness (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315615)

just like number plates on cars, why bother any one can just paint they own using their neighbours number?
or just drive with out?

Or just buy a new firing pin (2)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315629)

Components of a gun aren't restricted. For some guns, that can be nearly all of them. Like an AR-15 the only part that is the actual "gun" is the lower receiver. Everything else, you can mail order. Gun laws are a very strange mix of shit like that, particularly since some of the regulations were implemented as tax regulations to try and get around any second amendment concerns.

At any rate, firing pins are cheap and easy to order. They are just literally little metal pins. They are also something that is prone to break in a weapon that is used often, hence they are something not uncommon to order.

As an example a new striker, which includes the firing pin, for my pistol would be $40 for a titanium upgrade (lighter than the factory steel unit). Even cheaper for something more common that uses a separate pin, an AR-15 firing pin is $6.

I guess maybe this helps catch dumb criminals but I have trouble believing it'll do much good. Getting your hands on a new firing pin is dead simple, can be done on the Internet, and is in fact not at all suspicious as people do it all the time.

This also ignores the 100 million-ish guns already in the US that don't have this feature, of course.

Re:utter pointlessness (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315641)

The very idea of microstamping was never intended to assist law enforcement. It was specifically intended to target lawful gun owners to cause them harassment and extra expense and to better "track the law-abiding citizenry". I've been employed with a municipal police department for over 16 years, in a city that has more than its fair share of shootings and even random "gunfire in the night". Our forensics team has zero problems identifying shell casings using existing stereo microscopy technology to match it to a gun that fired the cartridge, but 99 times out of 100 there's no need to ever do that because regular ordinary police detective work that already solves the gun crimes is well established and quite effective. In the case of drive-by shootings in the gang areas of town, by the time the gunshots call is made to 911, the gang detectives already know who the culprits are and are ready to round them up because... well, these cops know their "clientele" pretty well from past repeat offenses.

Re:utter pointlessness (1)

atticus9 (1801640) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315829)

+1 since you have to take apart the gun for cleaning and maintenance this seems super easy to defeat. It would have been better if they kept this requirement under wraps somehow.

Collect Yer Brass! (2)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315397)

All responsible gun owners do.

Re:Collect Yer Brass! (1)

bdrees (1015815) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315643)

"policing" your brass! always thought that was a strange term for collecting your brass....

But you added a key word there.... responsible...
You think the idiots out there causing crime are responsible?

Re:Collect Yer Brass! (0)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315769)

I believe it's a military term. You don't clean up the parade grounds, you police them.

The problem here is that there is a large and active reloading market. Reloading renders this scheme useless. You will have multiple stamps and illegible stamps because of over stamping.

The whole idea is to make buying, owning and using a fire arm legally more expensive. When they find this doesn't work, the will pass more laws to fix it's deficiencies. So by-by reloading market. Owning brass will be illegal.

Since the vast majority of crime is committed with stolen firearms, the idiots will be unaffected.

Re:Collect Yer Brass! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315779)

Works on a range. Not so well on a dirty street. Never works when fleeing the scene, or shooting out of a moving vehicle.

Who Cares? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315413)

Ballistic "forensics" has already been shown to be, essentially, utter bullshit, [totalcriminaldefense.com] so why should I care?

Re:Who Cares? (1)

ZeroSumHappiness (1710320) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315439)

Because it will be many years and many millions of dollars before this gets thrown out of court, if it ever does.

Re:Who Cares? (1)

robkeeney (1061032) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315471)

Because it cost the manufacturers a lot of money to add to a gun, increasing the cost of guns.

They've thought of everything! (0)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315415)

This *totally* solves crimes where a stolen firearm was used!

Re:They've thought of everything! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315563)

The point is that the firearms that criminals get their hands on don't just materialize out of thin air. They were at some point legally sold. I doubt this is a real solution to the problem, however it at least attempts to deal with the problem.

As long as the NRA is obsessed with allowing felons to gain access to firearms we're not going to have any other realistic options. I remember somebody proposing a similar idea of imprinting a serial in the barrel which would become imprinted on the casing when a round is fired. In theory it works because in order to remove it you'd have to damage the firearm. But still.

Re:They've thought of everything! (1)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315895)

I remember somebody proposing a similar idea of imprinting a serial in the barrel which would become imprinted on the casing when a round is fired. In theory it works because in order to remove it you'd have to damage the firearm.

If it's a revolver, perhaps. Semi-auto pistols require a barrel change that takes all of 10 seconds.

No. But you bring up an important point. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315749)

Really there are multiple issues.

1. How are the criminals getting the guns?
They probably are not buying the guns through a licensed gun dealer themselves.

2. If someone else is selling guns to criminals, is there a way to find out who that is?
Maybe this laser micro etching will help in certain instances. Probably not many, though.

3. If the guns were stolen from a legitimate owner, is there a way to check the plausibility of that?
Probably. Most legitimate owners do not have their guns stolen repeatedly.

4. Is there a way to track the gun that was fired in a crime?
Not really. This might help in certain instances. But probably not with career criminals.

So, it looks like this might (emphasis on "might") help in a sub-set of instances and be totally useless in "career criminal" cases.

If it does not cause any damage to the gun and does not increase the price then I'd have no problem with this.

But I understand people who DO have a problem with it. They're worried that the government will mandate that ALL guns be marked this way. Without any "grandfathering".

Lame Tech (4, Insightful)

iinventstuff (1888700) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315419)

So, a well-planned criminal just needs to hang out at the local shooting range and collect someone else's brass casings before they commit a crime. After they commit their crime, they collect their own shells, and toss out the other person's shells. When police show up, there is a positive ID on the discarded casings, because of the #. This was a good idea, but it is so very easily spoofed because it's non-deterministic and can put innocent people at risk. I'd pass...

Re:Lame Tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315501)

That wouldn't work. You have ballistics to match the round to the barrel (debatable if it works), and then all the other stuff the police/prosecutor would have to do to win a conviction, or even make an initial arrest. It sounds like a real stupid law that would be easy to get around though.

Re:Lame Tech (2)

gknoy (899301) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315637)

It would, however, be enough to make some random innocent person's day REALLY shitty when the police bust in their door at 1:30 am in full riot gear, and then shoot their dog too.

Re:Lame Tech (1)

dwillden (521345) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315785)

Sure it would, because unless the real gun was found through other investigative measures, the police would look for the weapon matching the serial on the primer. Just because the ballistics then fails to match the suspected weapon doesn't mean they'd then know which weapon it would match. A better method, would be to collect multiple casings from multiple weapons and scatter them at the scene. Then the police would really have no clue which weapon it was.

Re:Lame Tech (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315557)

Preferably a range where cops frequently shoot.

Re:Lame Tech (4, Insightful)

mbstone (457308) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315571)

Also get some hair or other random DNA from the floor of the local barber shop, nail parlor, etc.

Re:Lame Tech (1)

mbstone (457308) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315923)

Of course, a criminal must also remember to turn off and remove the battery from his cellphone. But this raises suspicions also. He should leave the cellphone on, and at home. But wait, on the way to the crime he will drive by a dozen cameras that will read and record his license plate. He'll also need to steal some license plates. But then he risks getting pulled over if the plate owner has warrants and the plates get recognized by a passing cop car with license plate reader cameras.

It's getting pretty goddamn hard to pull off crimes, isn't it?

Most criminals are too stupid to cover their tracks in all the ways one has to cover one's tracks nowadays, if that's even possible.

Re:Lame Tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315719)

Made me think of something.

1) Go to gun ranges and collect all the shells you can from as many people as you can using the exact same weapon as you intend to use. Spend a few months doing this to collect a great deal of them. Over 500 rounds per round you intend to fire. Also stretch out how long you do it, take a couple days break in between visits. Make sure they are from at least 12 different people.

2) Go to a few local barbershops and collect as much hair from various people as you can. You can go dumpster diving for this at night without raising too much fuss.

3) Commit crime but instead of picking up your casings, dump out a couple thousand casings that you collected from the gun ranges and make sure to sprinkle a couple pounds of hair from the various barbershops around the place.

Now, short of you forgetting to use gloves or getting caught on camera or you talking too much. When the cops come, they will see a crime with dozens of different peoples ammo casings and hair samples from dozens of different people. That would give them a headache trying to figure that one out. Especially if it is in a place that is very heavily trafficked so they can't use foot prints reliably.

Re:Lame Tech (1)

oddjob1244 (1179491) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315929)

Rather than trying to associate gun crimes with people, they're trying to associate gun crimes with guns, and then just assume that means a person. By printing numbers on the shell casings, they can piggy back on the precedence that has been set by the riaa which is numbers (IP address) = person.

Used gun market and revolver sales will sky rocket (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315423)

Apparently the people making laws are about as proficient with firearms as they are with technology.

Frame (1)

aztrailerpunk (1971174) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315429)

Wouldn't this make it easier to frame people?
Find spent casing from either your target or some random spent casings.
Plant them at the sight.
????
Profit.

Re:Frame (2)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315573)

This will be the problem that the next law will address.

Probably, they will ban the selling of used brass and prohibit its ownership because it renders the current law ineffective. You heard it here first.

overheard at an Italian restaurant (5, Funny)

bitt3n (941736) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315445)

"Ok Vito, we're going to need you to ice Ricky Peanuts tonight. Shoot him full of holes, then chop up the body and feed it to your pet alligator. Then grind up the alligator, dissolve him in acid, and turn it into smoothies at your ice cream parlor. Then burn down the ice cream parlor with everyone inside. And don't forget to file the code off your gun."

"File off the code? Madone! That's illegal!"

Millions of dollars in legal bribes (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315451)

defeated by a diamond dental burr and a Dremel.

Guns (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315459)

The problem with guns is the technology to kill people is very primitive and simple. We've been killing each other since before we could read and write. Guns are nothing more than a device for initiating a controlled rapid exothermic reaction resulting in a propulsive force to a projectile.

Most people have the necessary tools and items required to manufacture a simple gun in their garages, propellant included. So even in the ideal case where criminals don't just file off the microprinting in a few well-placed strokes, and in this magical world every bullet fired has a 1:1 parity with a registered gun owner, the problem isn't any closer to being solved... there's still hundreds of other ways to murder people, either with guns, or gun-like devices, or even without guns. Hell, the government routinely says tazers, water cannons, and microwaving protesters is "safe", yet people still somehow wind up just as dead.

Expecting violent criminals to care about legislation like this is like expecting a terrorist to care his car bomb is taking up two parking spaces.

What about...... (2)

gderf (1288680) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315469)

revolvers that don't leave shell casings behind?

Re:What about...... (1)

su5so10 (2542686) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315743)

Yes. That was my first thought.

Re:What about...... (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315959)

As a side note, a Nagant [aimsurplus.com] costs $100 (though ammo is kinda expensive at 35 cents per round), and can be silenced.

Black market laser etching (1)

beavmetal (250116) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315477)

Will make some people very rich and send many innocent people go to jail.

LOL (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315493)

Ok, microstamp it. Costs to manufacturer to tool up to do that, thousands.
2 dollar file at the local Ace hardware store, file it down...defeat it, PRICELESS.

Hey idiots...instead of making NEW laws for firearms, how about ENFORCING the current ones?
IE: Fast & Furious?

What, you mean it isn't 100% perfect?! (5, Insightful)

Derekloffin (741455) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315511)

Well hell, can't use that then. We all know that criminals are all well planned geniuses that think of every contingency and will counter every forensic method used to find them. I mean, seriously, what are they thinking.

Re:What, you mean it isn't 100% perfect?! (1)

cjc25 (1961486) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315577)

By that logic, security by obscurity is actually just fine security, because most people on the internet don't know how to do much besides googling default ports and passwords...

The only reason to oppose this (which I would but I don't live in Cali so who cares?) is that you have to pay someone for going to gun manufacturers and saying "let me see your microstamping equipment and tests please." Sign me up for that at 50k+, or better yet his "supervisor" at 100k+

Re:What, you mean it isn't 100% perfect?! (1)

Derekloffin (741455) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315675)

No, that logic would be 'passwords are useless because keyloggers exist'. Clearly faulty logic. You can argue it doesn't add enough value to be worth the effort, you can't argue that it is possible to defeat therefore it is useless.

Re:What, you mean it isn't 100% perfect?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315687)

I didn't realize that the brass was used as is. I always assumed it was melted down to make new (not reused) cases. Is this incorrect?
Couldn't you hash the serial number in such a way that printing a random number would not work?
This solution would seem to help solve all of those non-premeditated crimes. Of course the smarter criminals with time to plan will get around this (just as they get around every other forensic measure).

Security by obscurity is perfectly fine if whatever you are securing is not all that valuable to begin with.

Re:What, you mean it isn't 100% perfect?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315701)

Security by obscurity is a perfectly valid way to get security.

The problem is when security by obscurity is the ONLY form of security that you have.

Think about a flaw in SSH that allow bots to login into your machine automatically and alter your computer to make it become one of the zombies. The process is automated, so, a little security by obscurity will help here. Change SSH port to a non standard one and voilá you are safe from 90% of the attacks.

You cannot rely ONLY on that method, but it is a good tool for a layered defense.

Re:What, you mean it isn't 100% perfect?! (2)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315717)

There are lots of reasons to oppose this:

A) It's easily beat. It isn't going to do a damn thing to harm criminals, its just going to make legitimate citizens have to pay even more for ammo and firearms.

B) It makes it trivial to frame someone for a crime. Find some used brass at any gun range, drop them off at the shooting scene.

C) It creates even more tracking and tracing for gun owners. Just like the census was used to round up people of Japanese decent to put them in concentration camps, these databases will be used to round up potential political enemies. Mix that with B and you have an easy way to put lots of innocent people in jail.

Re:What, you mean it isn't 100% perfect?! (-1, Flamebait)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315783)

A) It's easily beat. It isn't going to do a damn thing to harm criminals, its just going to make legitimate citizens have to pay even more for ammo and firearms.

Boohoo.

No, seriously, I'm crying tears here for your paranoia and need to destroy things.

Re:What, you mean it isn't 100% perfect?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315633)

It is so easily defeated it should not have been proposed. Criminals may not plan their crimes as well as Ocean's Eleven, but they do use stolen guns (to add to the spoofing ideas already given).

Unreliable and defeatable (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315531)

Not only can you just file/sandpaper the tip of the firing pin, I personally know a forensic scientist who did a Master's Thesis on this very subject, and in his research and testing, he found that the serial numbers wear down enough in just a few shots that they aren't readable on the primers any more. Combine that with widely varying degrees of hardness of different brands of primers (some take a good print, some don't), and it's a totally unreliable way identify which firearm shot the round. The people who push this technology in the political arena hope to make tons of money on it (they own the businesses that make the products). The tech sounds good in theory, but in practice, it simply doesn't work.

Just learn to use a lathe and milling machine (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315541)

Look man, guns were invented over a thousand years ago. It's not like it's any kind of secret as to how to make them.

All you require is a small hobbiest-sized lathe and milling machine. Those are quite cool for lots of other kinds of projects.

It happens that I myself am a witness to the execution style murder of an informant to a Methamphetamine Kingpin.

That Kingpin's countryside pharmaceutical manufacturing facility had a machine shop where they manufactured their own fully-automatic machine guns. They had no stamps or serial numbers and so were untraceable if found.

When the poor fucker was discovered talking to the wrong people, the Kingpin had everyone down into his basement, put the guy up against the wall, asked everyone to pay close attention, then opened fire on full auto.

I kept my mouth shut about that for many years, until I spent two solid months completely unable to sleep, overcome with visions of horrible, collosal - yet quite unrealistic disasters, like global nuclear war, comets striking the Earth and the like.

What I finally realized was that I was haunted by my memory of witnessing this murder then telling no one at all about it, so I rang up the Vancouver, Washington Police Department to ask them to take a report, then pass my report to the appropriate authorities. Note that in the US, there is no statute of limitations for first-degree murder, and those kinds of people tend not to change careers a whole lot.

Get This:

Corporal Greg Zimmerman of the VPD flatly refused to even write a report because the murder didn't take place in his jurisdiction, so I threatened to beat him to death with my bare hands for not doing his fucking job as a law enforcement officer.

For this I spent a solid month in the slammer, charged with the Class 3 Felony of threatening the life of a law enforcement officer. I got the case dismissed by representing myself Pro Se, and pointing out to the Assistant Prosecuting Attorney first that he and I would be someday making oral arguments together before the United States Supreme Court, and that it would cost the people of Clark County well over a million dollars to put me back in the slammer.

My name is Jonathan Swift [softwareproblem.net] , and I am to solve what I call The Software Problem [softwareproblem.net] :

  • Software failure is fundamentally a human problem, not a technical one
  • Purely technical solutions fail to effect truly meaningful and lasting change

I welcome your comments, criticisms and flames at swift@softwareproblem.net [mailto]

In Reverse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315647)

That's a shame because this seems like a great way to prove that my weapon (or at least my firing pin) wasn't used to shoot anyone.

Lawful Citizens = Criminals (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315669)

This is just one more attempt to make law abiding citizens criminals because they exercise a right the government thinks they shouldn't have. Criminals will ignore this law and deface their illegal guns if they have this. However, it will soon become illegal to have your firing pin defaced, and with how much som people legally shoot it will become defaced through use. Once a cop decides he doesn't like you, searches your car without a warrant, finds the gun and suspect its illegal, the law abiding citizen is now a criminal.

This is merely an attempt to make those who legally exercise their second amendment rights criminals.

Microscopic engraving? (1)

Post-O-Matron (1273882) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315677)

I don't understand, it's enough to just graze a microscopic layer off the tip of the firing pin to render the gun "unidentifiable" ?

Gun Control = DRM (5, Insightful)

johofnovi (1667811) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315679)

In terms most /. readers can understand, Gun control has very similar problems to DRM. It solves a minute percentage of the problem, affects almost none of the people it was intended to (criminals/pirates) and serves only to inconvenience the law abiding citizen. Passing gun control legislation has a nice "feel good" factor, ie "Do it for the children!", but in fact does squat to actually diminish any gun related crime at all. I give you the infamous "Crime Bill" passed in the 90's as exhibit A.

Microstamping: Framing made easy. (1)

ChrisKnight (16039) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315713)

Microstamping would only work if it were 100% impossible to pick up someone else's casings at a gun range. Plan on committing a crime? Just follow these steps:

1) Go to a local gun range.
2) Shoot next to someone who has a similar gun.
3) Pick up a few of their spent casings.
4) Commit your crime.
5) Pick up your casings.
6) Toss down the casings you picked up in #3.

If law enforcement has faith in micro stamping, you have just successfully framed someone. At least with blood evidence, it is a lot harder to steal someone's blood without them noticing.

Literally, what is their thought process? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315723)

What I want to better understand is where does this kind of thing come from? Are legislators just stupid? And I don't mean in a small way that certain acts are stupid but in a big way that they are retarded. Are they intelligent but naive? Are they well aware of the futility of these laws (including limiting folks to 10 rounds, banning mean-looking guns, etc.) but are doing such things for their own personal career gain? What's going through their heads?

Not an extension (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315747)

I know this is slashdot, where Patent FUD is King, and this may be a bit of a technicality, but the company didn't pay an "extension" fee - there is no such thing. It's called a maintenance fee. In order to keep the patent in force for the full statutory term, the holder of a patent must continue to pay fees to the USPTO. This is not some sort of fee to allow the patent to remain in force longer than the statutory term of 20 years from the earliest claimed priority date. Don't pay the fee - the term of the patent is cut short.

Just thought I'd throw that out there before someone criticizes the patent system for allowing "extensions."

Are you all idiots? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315757)

Why are so many of you talking as if this would be the sole evidence used in a murder case - were you dropped as children? The most obvious application would be to narrow down what to look for - all pieces of the puzzle helps. To actually convict they'd *still* need the usual evidence, motive etc. so no, messing with numbers would not get "innocents" sent to jail or whatever incredibly stupid scenario you can think of.

I swear to god, you lot appear to get more retarded by the day.

The natural alliance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315831)

Gun-turds teaming up with patent-turds. A match made in hell.

Pointless. (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315857)

Years before this is actually in place there will be five movies where it's used to solve crimes and the CSI shows will have been doing it for seasons. Net result is that the bad guys will pick up their shell casings.

Net result? You'll know LESS about the gun since now there won't be any shell casings left. Amongst the good ideas will be that criminals will shift to revolvers. Guess what revolvers don't eject? Shell casings. They stay in the gun until manually removed. So good work.

Furthermore, about five seconds after this thing is released blackmarket gun dealers will know how to file the firing pin or whatever so it doesn't even put a serial number on the casing.

This is basically the whole stupid DRM argument all over again. Once I have the gun in my hands it's a lot easier for me to disable whatever stupid features were put in place then it is for anyone else to implement them in the first place.

And with the rise of 3d printers if they really want to get obnoxious with trying to code the guns they'll find home made guns coming out metal printing 3d printers that get the job done. This is a bad idea.

They're disturbing the equilibrium. Criminals have little reason to pick up shells and little reason print their own guns. Play around with this stuff and they will do both.

Net loss to law enforcement. Possibly it will make it easier to catch really dumb criminals but the clever ones will just get harder to catch.

Plenty of lies on sides. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315891)

Ever since the anti-self-defense lobby has resorted to every single dirty trick in the book to get their way, it's only fair that NRA aka the good guys only do the same.

Being a gun owner in CA, we've seen this numerous times. Anti gun legislation is proposed with seemingly noble goals, while the real reason behind is to drive down gun sales by raising the cost of firearms to the point where only the rich can buy one (and, FWIW, this country isn't that far off from making the collective realization that the best way to fix the problem is to kill all the rich people and start over). In Noo Yowk's case, the pricing is specifically capped to make selling guns there unprofitable.

I just wish more manufacturers would grow a backbone and stop selling non-civ-legal weapons to LE in the affected states.

Oh, please, people... Bother to think much? (2, Insightful)

trims (10010) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315905)

I see lots of "oh, it's easily defeatable" blah blah blah here.

Naturally, if one bothers to go out an look at the legislation and motivation behind this, one would find it's no different than the serial number stamp on firearms. You can't get a conviction based on micro-stamped brass at a crime scene, any more than you can get a conviction just on finding the murder weapon (complete with intact serial number stamped on the frame) at the scene. One still has to place the gun in an offender's hand (in either instance).

It's an aid to crime solving, in the same way serial numbers on the gun itself are an aid. It gives the police investigation a good place to start looking, nothing more, nothing less. It's not evidence that the owner committed the crime; one still has to prove that the owner fired the gun in question, just like you have to do with gun frame serial numbers . For the purpose it is intended to serve, microstamping the firing pin is a very good idea, and has roughly the same utility as gun frame serial numbers do. As such, it's actually a great investigative aid, given that brass is much more likely to be left at a crime scene than a gun itself, and that criminals are highly unlikely to be able to gather all expended brass, which means that at least some of the brass almost certainly comes from the weapon used in the crime.

Certainly there are ways to subvert this, but they're not much more likely than filing the serial number off a gun, and we all know how many guns used in crimes have them filed off (hint: not many). Gun crimes (like the vast majority of all crimes) are not well-planned by super-level-headed big brain geniuses that think of all possible outcomes, then coolly remember to execute everything flawlessly. Crime is sloppy by nature, with gun crimes even more so, so the utility of this goes up with the amount of sloppiness of the criminal. Hell, even "professional" mob hits are notoriously unprofessional.

Get a grip, people.

-Erik

California (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315935)

Many firearm manufacturers don't bother to make CA compliant products, or only make some subset of their product line compliant. They give up 10% of their potential market and forego 100% of the CA regulatory burden.

Requiring micro-stamps will create a mess for gun owners and gunsmiths, who will then be obligated to deal with the stamps (via some additional federal registration process, doubtless) when parts are replaced (barrels, revolver cylinders, etc.) during repairs, modifications or otherwise. This will naturally make gun ownership more difficult, expensive and create new legal jackpots for everyone involved. Thus, the real intent of these laws is achieved; discouraging law-abiding shooters.

Oppose this nonsense here [nra.org] . Today, gun control is a political third rail among the free states of the US because of gun rights organizations and their millions of dues paying voters. Support them or keep quiet when you're locked up because some apparatchik lost your micro-stamp paperwork.

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