We told them so

For at least ten years gun owners, the police, and many others have been saying “ballistic fingerprinting” will not and cannot work (many of the links are dead but in January 2005 they were active, I include them anyway to give a hint at the number of people who were in agreement the system was doomed to failure):

Millions of dollars and over a decade later the Maryland legislators finally admitted what we have been saying all along:

Millions of dollars later, Maryland has officially decided that its 15-year effort to store and catalog the “fingerprints” of thousands of handguns was a failure.

Since 2000, the state required that gun manufacturers fire every handgun to be sold here and send the spent bullet casing to authorities. The idea was to build a database of “ballistic fingerprints” to help solve future crimes.

But the system — plagued by technological problems — never solved a single case. Now the hundreds of thousands of accumulated casings could be sold for scrap.

But the computerized system designed to sort and match the images never worked as envisioned. In 2007, the state stopped bothering to take the photographs, though hundreds of thousands more casings kept piling up in the fallout shelter.

And now we all get to say, “I told you so”:


9 thoughts on “We told them so

  1. Yep. It doesn’t work, it cannot work, and “Ballistic Finger-painting” (a deliberate misnomer) has approximately the same degree of veracity as my grandchildren’s finger-painting. We have been saying this for YEARS (I could cite articles which I have published, but what’s the use?

    It’s a mish-mash of theoretical crap which has been embraced by liberals all across the land, with no more veracity than wishful thinking. The people who wish to demonize guns as :”Bad” (without any reference to the number of times that crimes have been stopped because the supposed victim was armed) will not/would not listen to rational people with real-life experiences.

    It’s refreshing that there is now indisputable proof … and I am making an assumption here, but I think it’s rational … that it’s impossible to convincingly prove that the cartridge which was imprinted on Gun “A” and not have been fired by Gun “B”.

    As all who have any experiences with guns know, the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune will wear on every gun, and upon every other mechanical devise made by man. Random Chaos (is there any other kind) works on machinery, the proof stampings of a new metal surface usually bear little or no similarity to a piece of machinery 10, 5, even one year older.

    I’ve never approved of legislators who enact laws based on wishful thinking, and these are among the most egregious because their mis-interpretations can and will lead to penal servitude for honest citizens who have done no harm to society greater than owning a firearm which “kind-a/Sort-a” looks like one which has been used in a crime.

    It’s time for Legislators to stop looking for new laws to pass, and review the old laws which have ALREADY been passed … at a severe detriment to society.

    I have nothing more to say about this.

    Well … maybe I could say “BULLSHIT HAPPENS”, but that would be just rude. And it would embarrass a lot of state senators and assemblymen.

      • Thank you. Nice to have one of my old columns be relevant. I didn’t post it as ‘dittybopper’ because it had my name on it anyway.

  2. I’ve been told by an individual who might well know the the program hit rocks and shoals very early on. The problem wasn’t false positives, it was (presumably) false negatives. For the reasons laid out quite well by Jerry the Greek above, they had created an official government agency which would reliably, in the absence of the firearm itself, “prove” that shell casing X did not come from firearm X, even though everyone knew it did. At that point they suddenly “discovered” technical problems and the program became another government Zombie, not alive but not dead enough to stop eating money.

  3. Such programs are never designed, nor expected, to “solve” anything. They have one purpose. Which could be broken down into several constituent parts;
    Grow the bureaucracy and enrich a few of their friends
    Harass gun manufacturers
    Make guns more expensive
    Display the power of the bureaucracy to accomplish all the above (intimidate)

    In that sense the program is probably more of a success than you imagine. It’s only flaw is that the lie has come to light. If they’d been able to maintain the lie then all would be well. They did maintain the lie long enough for the program to show a good run though. All those years and millions of dollars is in itself a bureaucratic success. Next time, if they’re smart, they’ll have planned in advance several ways by which they can “prove” the programs’s worth by “solving” them some “crimes”. It’s just a matter of some creative thinking.

    I suppose we’ve reached the point where they could simply take the money and not even make up a reason. Still, they’re going to have to fuck with some people along the way, give some other people some titles. and so these programs will continue to pop up in different forms.

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