“Forensic testing of ammunition used in a crime is the most effective way of tracing criminal activity.”
– Former Republican Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger
Ballistic identification is the science of using a ballistic fingerprint to identify the specific firearm used in a shooting. A comprehensive ballistic identification system would connect a bullet or cartridge case recovered at a crime scene directly to the make, model and serial number of the gun from which it was fired.
A technology called “microstamping” has made comprehensive ballistic identification a reality. Microstamping technology utilizes lasers to make microscopic engravings on the breech face and firing pin of a gun. As the gun is fired, a code identifying the weapon’s serial number is stamped onto the cartridge. This enables police to trace a gun without ever physically recovering it. A traced firearm is a valuable lead in a criminal investigation, because investigators can then connect that weapon to its first purchaser, who may become either a suspect or a source of information helpful to the investigation.
On October 13, 2007, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger made history by signing a first-of-its-kind microstamping bill into law. The District of Columbia enacted a similar microstamping law in January 2009. Several other states, and the U.S. Congress, are now considering microstamping legislation. The technology promises to revolutionize the way law enforcement officials investigate homicides and other gun crimes.
Ed Fund Report: Microstamping Technology: Precise and Proven
Editorial: Stamping Out Violence