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Post date: June 10 2011

Microstamping Saves Lives: Senate Must Resist Gun Lobby And Pass Crime-Fighting Bill

Op-Ed Published in the NY Daily News


By Michael Bloomberg and Eric Schneiderman
Friday, June 10th 2011

Do your state legislators - state senators in particular - fully support giving our police officers the tools they need to keep us safe? To find out, call their offices and ask one question: Do you support passage of "microstamping" legislation that would help the police capture criminals who use guns to menace society and murder innocent people?

Microstamping is a technology that imprints a unique mark on every bullet casing that is ejected when a semiautomatic is fired. These marks help detectives make the connection between a gun and a crime scene, generating important leads in shooting investigations. Right now, if shell casings ejected from a gun are left behind at a crime scene but the gun itself is not recovered, the case can go cold - leaving the criminals free to pull the trigger again.

If police find one microstamped shell casing at a crime scene, they have a 54% chance of identifying the gun. Right now, using existing ballistics technology, they have a 2% chance.

When officers are trying to solve gun crimes, every moment counts - because another day on the loose is another day a criminal can commit another robbery or fire the bullet that takes the life of a child, a parent or a police officer. Our police departments do a magnificent job, and they should have access to the best technology available for tracking down violent gun criminals. That's why more than 100 New York mayors and more than 80 police departments and law enforcement organizations statewide have endorsed microstamping legislation, and it's why the state Assembly passed microstamping legislation last week. Now, it's time for the Senate to do the same.

This should be an easy vote. Instead, however, lobbyists for the gun industry work the halls of Albany, making specious arguments driven more by a kneejerk opposition to any gun-related legislation rather than by their desire to protect legal gun ownership.

The fact is that microstamping poses no threat or inconvenience to law-abiding gun owners; it is solely about crime fighting. The technology is invisible and does not have any impact on the operation of guns.

And the bill only covers semiautomatic handguns - not long guns favored by sportsmen - and even then, the requirement would be waived if microstamping costs more than $12 per firearm, a minor expense for guns that typically cost more than $300. The argument that New York-based gun manufacturers would bear an unfair burden is flat-out false: The bill applies to guns sold in New York regardless of whether they're manufactured in New York State, New Mexico or anywhere else.

What this legislation would do is help our police departments speed up investigations, improve the proportion of deadly shootings they can solve and take killers off the streets. Public safety must be every public official's first priority, and microstamping is a common sense way to improve public safety that both members of both parties should support. There are still more than two weeks remaining in the legislative session, plenty of time for the state Senate to pass microstamping legislation and make communities across the state safer. Criminals are hoping that our senators won't act. Police leaders and mayors are hoping they will. The choice is theirs. Innocent lives hang in the balance.

Bloomberg is mayor of New York. Schneiderman is New York attorney general.