The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Conference Center > Law and Civil Rights

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old June 27, 2011, 08:24 AM   #1
Eclipse
Junior Member
 
Join Date: June 27, 2011
Posts: 5
Ballistic Fingerprinting

I am currently a college student writing a research essay on Ballistic Fingerprinting, and I happened to stumble across this website. I have only found a few threads in which they talk about this topic, all in which everyone seems to be disagreeing with the Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS) but none seem to give valid reasons as to why they oppose it. Valid being that they have not backed it up with anything besides the fact "they disagree with it," or they just "do not want it." I am natural on the topic, and don't really care either way, but I am curious as to why people are disagreeing with it.
Eclipse is offline  
Old June 27, 2011, 08:52 AM   #2
Bartholomew Roberts
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 12, 2000
Location: Texas and Oklahoma area
Posts: 5,718
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,66007,00.html
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yAlixegkf0o
http://old.nationalreview.com/commen...0502040751.asp
http://smallestminority.blogspot.com...ng-doesnt.html

All of the above links go into some detail about why ballistic fingerprinting is a bad idea. The subject has been discussed here for almost ten years now, so I find it difficult to believe you were unable to find any "valid" reasons why it should not be adopted. If you search the archives here, you'll even find links to the original state of California assessment on ballistic fingerprinting.
Bartholomew Roberts is offline  
Old June 27, 2011, 08:55 AM   #3
Don H
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 8, 2000
Location: SLC,Utah
Posts: 2,705
Would biometric fingerprinting be of much use if fingerprints naturally changed over time or if people could alter their fingerprints at will?

A firearm's "fingerprint" changes with use as the metal parts wear. The "fingerprint" can also be manually altered by use of common tools, processes or merely changing parts. As an exercise for the student, compute how many combinations can be fabricated from the slides, magazines, firing pins, barrels, extractors and ejectors of four 'identical' pistols; these being components that come in contact with a cartridge case and leave markings on that case.

Also keep in mind that those using revolvers in crimes generally don't leave cartridge cases onsite.
Don H is offline  
Old June 27, 2011, 09:32 AM   #4
alloy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 11, 2008
Posts: 1,931
As a similar statewide program, wasn't the fired maryland case included with new handguns, determined to be a waste of resources not having resulted in a single arrest?

Oops, I see BRoberts has a link.
I reload the ones I get.
__________________
Quote:
The uncomfortable question common to all who have had revolutionary changes imposed on them: are we now to accept what was done to us just because it was done?
Angelo Codevilla
alloy is offline  
Old June 27, 2011, 10:10 AM   #5
BGutzman
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 4, 2009
Location: Frozen Tundra
Posts: 2,414
In addition the science of why it shouldn’t be done Id like to ask you to consider the following.

The Bill of Rights only mentions one personal possession in a very specific way and that is the "Right to keep and bear arms." No other possession has this very specific protection.

Why because the founders of our nation knew it was essential in order to maintain freedom and felt it was necessary for the protection of individuals and familys.

Do we finger print you prior to using your freedom of speech? How about hand prints prior to using your freedom of religion?

Rights do not come from government, rights exist with or without government and are items that all forms of government should respect.
__________________
Molon Labe
BGutzman is offline  
Old June 27, 2011, 10:40 AM   #6
2damnold4this
Senior Member
 
Join Date: August 12, 2009
Location: Athens, Georgia
Posts: 1,401
I don't think people have a problem with forensic testing of a bullet or shell casing against a particular suspect's gun. What doesn't work efficiently is a system like Maryland uses with a large database of shell casings from every semi auto handgun sold in the state. The National Academies has released a report you should read before you write your report.

Here are a few highlights:

The committee concludes that a national reference database of ballistic images should not be established.

Images from more than a million guns would be entered into such a database every year, and many of these would have similar toolmarks. Because current technology for collecting and comparing toolmarks is not sufficiently precise in distinguishing extremely fine marks among so many images, searches would return too many possible matches to be practically useful. In addition, the type or brand of ammunition used in the initial firing of a gun would not necessarily be the same as the ammunition later used in a crime. This difference could be a significant source of error in generating possible matches.



The committee was not charged with issuing a verdict on whether toolmarks are unique -- that is, whether each gun leaves marks that could not be made by any other firearm. Nor was the committee charged to recommend whether toolmark evidence should be admissible in court. However, it became clear to the committee early on that the assumption that toolmarks are unique to each gun has not yet been fully scientifically demonstrated. Much more research would be needed to determine whether toolmarks are truly unique, or even to estimate the probability that they are unique.



Consequently, the committee advises against one statement frequently made by firearms examiners -- that toolmarks link bullets or casings to a particular gun "to the exclusion of all other firearms." Given that uniqueness has not been demonstrated, such statements do not have a firm statistical basis. These claims, which imply an error rate of zero, also don't reflect the element of subjectivity involved in declaring a match, a determination that's always made by a firearms examiner.



The conclusion that uniqueness has not been fully established doesn't mean that toolmarks or ballistic imaging technologies are not useful. It is clear to the committee that the toolmarks generated by firing guns are not completely random and volatile, and that the current imaging technology is definitely helpful in generating leads for law enforcement investigation. Thus, our report recommends many ways to improve ATF's existing database of crime-related ballistic evidence, called the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network or NIBIN, which permits investigators at about 230 participating law enforcement agencies to search evidence against images from their own jurisdiction as well as from other departments.



For example, ATF should consider establishing protocols for entering images of multiple exhibits from the same gun, ideally involving various types of ammunition; currently, only a single exhibit is entered in some jurisdictions. The report also recommends several ways to improve the database's technical platform -- for example, by making it simpler to conduct searches across multiple regions of the country. In addition, we recommend more research on a possible future shift from using two-dimensional photographic techniques to using three-dimensional surface measurement techniques.
2damnold4this is offline  
Old June 27, 2011, 10:57 AM   #7
LordTio3
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 5, 2010
Location: Bloomington, Indiana
Posts: 850
The following is a direct copy/paste from a well-known Gun Fact Website:
http://gunfacts.info/

Page 18 of the easily-viewable info pdf is a section specifically addressing the process of Ballistic Fingerprinting casings upon firing; with sources for support.


Quote:
BALLISTIC “FINGERPRINTING”
Myth: Every firearm leaves a unique "fingerprint"
that can pinpoint the firearm used

Fact: A group of National Research Council scientists concluded that this has not yet
been fully demonstrated. Their research suggests that the current technology for
collecting and comparing images may not reliably distinguish very fine differences.101
Fact: "Firearms that generate markings on cartridge casings can change with use and can
also be readily altered by the users. They are not permanently defined like fingerprints or
DNA."102
Fact: "Automated computer matching systems do not provide conclusive results.”103
Fact: “Because bullets are severely damaged on impact, they can only be examined
manually”.104
Fact: “Not all firearms generate markings on cartridge casings that can be identified
back to the firearm.”105
Fact: The same gun will produce different markings on bullets and casings, and different
guns can produce similar markings.106 Additionally, the type of ammunition actually
used in a crime could differ from the type used when the gun was originally test-fired -- a
difference that could lead to significant error in suggesting possible matches.107
Fact: The rifle used in the Martin Luther King assassination was test fired 18 times
under court supervision, and the results showed that no two bullets were marked alike.108
“Every test bullet was different because it was going over plating created by the previous
bullet.”
Fact: "The common layman seems to believe that two bullets fired from the same
weapon are identical, down to the very last striation placed on them by the weapon. The
trained firearms examiner knows how far that is from reality."109


101 Ballistic Imaging, Daniel Cork, John Rolph, Eugene Meieran, Carol Petrie, National Research Council,
2008.
102 Feasibility of a Ballistics Imaging Database for All New Handgun Sales, Frederic Tulleners, California
Department of Justice, Bureau of Forensic Services, October, 2001 (henceforth FBID).
103 Ibid.
104 Ibid.
105 Ibid.
106 Handbook of Firearms & Ballistics: Examining and Interpreting Forensic Evidence, Heard, 1997.
107 Ballistic Imaging, Daniel Cork, John Rolph, Eugene Meieran, Carol Petrie, National Research Council,
2008.
108 Ballistics 'fingerprinting' not foolproof, Baltimore Sun, October 15, 2002.
109 AFTE Journal , George G. Krivosta, Winter 2006 edition, Suffolk County Crime Laboratory,
Hauppauge, New York.
And if ballistic fingerprinting ever evolved to the point that it was actually reliable and could produce any useful data at all (it's a long way off), why would you, as a criminal, just use a revolver which retains it's spent casings after firing?

It's just a poorly planned, impractical, flashy buzz-program that gun-control advocates have gotten behind and openly supported before they even understood the process and it's weaknesses.

~LT

PS- I hope this copy-paste was conducted as per our policies. If not then I do appologize to the moderators.
__________________
ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ- Greek:"Come and take them..." Meaning: Here we peaceably stand as armed and free men, willing to defend that peace, and ready to make war upon anyone who threatens that freedom.
LordTio3 is offline  
Old June 27, 2011, 11:09 AM   #8
LordTio3
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 5, 2010
Location: Bloomington, Indiana
Posts: 850
It also suddenly occurs to me... Are you speaking about Ballistic Fingerprinting or Ballistic Microstamping?

In Microstamping, the firing pin in a firearm is designed to imprint a serial number into the back of any cartridge it fires apparently making them distiguishable to a certain firearm.


This is also a terrible, expensive, and poorly-thought-out idea for many of the same reasons. For example, firing pins can be bought, made, swapped, and changed incredibly easily. These numbers can be filed off with no change to function. The stamping process doesn't even work legibly after only 10-20 rounds fired (many handguns with their factory firing pin will be fired hundreds of thousands, if not millions of times in their service). The stamping process and database registration and recording would mean an average of about a 40% increase in handgun cost. And most guns that are used to commit crimes are stolen, or unlawfully unregistered. What good would finding the original owner do toward solving the crime?

Most "campy" gun-control ideas are just terribly unreasonable and impractical when you apply ANY measure of common sense or ballistics knowledge to them.

~LT

(Reading on the matter)
NanoTagTM Markings From Another Perspective, George G. Krivosta, Suffolk County Crime Laboratory, Hauppauge, New York, Winter 2006 edition of the AFTE Journal

Etched bullets interest law enforcement, The Record, September 25, 2006
__________________
ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ- Greek:"Come and take them..." Meaning: Here we peaceably stand as armed and free men, willing to defend that peace, and ready to make war upon anyone who threatens that freedom.
LordTio3 is offline  
Old June 27, 2011, 11:36 AM   #9
Uncle Buck
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 21, 2009
Location: West Central Missouri
Posts: 2,565
Eclipse: If you are writing a paper on this subject, would you be so kind as to come back and post it once it is completed. It would be interesting to see your conclusions.
__________________
Inside Every Bright Idea Is The 50% Probability Of A Disaster Waiting To Happen.
Uncle Buck is offline  
Old June 27, 2011, 11:39 AM   #10
hermannr
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 24, 2011
Posts: 730
Eclipse:

Let's take one brand firearm, that manufactures Rifles, Pistols and shotguns..OK?

Thompson Center (not the only one to do this, but an example) has devised a system whereby you can purchase the "frame" or "Receiver" (the ATF legal part, that is, acrding to the ATF, the "receiver" is the firearm).

Now that you have a "firearm" with a serial number, (the receiver) you can purchase any number of barrels, firing pins, stocks, etc that will fit on this receiver, creating another totally different weapon.

A human analogy would be, if you could take a persons heart and transplant it at will into any number of "bodies". These bodies could be white, black, male, female, whatever you wanted....how would that help in identifying the original doner of that transplanted heart? Even the DNA would be different, let alone the "fingerprint"

Just like the long gun registration in Canada, micro stamping makes assumptions that just are not valid and wastes a lot of public money for no reasonable gain.
hermannr is offline  
Old June 28, 2011, 06:41 AM   #11
Uncle Buck
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 21, 2009
Location: West Central Missouri
Posts: 2,565
Eclipse: Some people have propose having the firing pin stamp the primer with a series of numbers/letters.

What would happen if you broke the firing pin? Would you have to go back to the manufacturer and have them make you another pin? I have made some firing pins myself. Would that now become illegal?

The idea of have the numbers somehow etched in the chamber of the gun, so when it is fired, the gun leaves a mark on the shell casing. Criminals would find a way to remove the mark.

Please keep in mind that criminals, by their very nature, are intent on breaking the law. They may not file the identifying numbers off the gun, but a nail and a hammer could mar the numbers very easily.
__________________
Inside Every Bright Idea Is The 50% Probability Of A Disaster Waiting To Happen.
Uncle Buck is offline  
Old June 28, 2011, 09:26 AM   #12
Eclipse
Junior Member
 
Join Date: June 27, 2011
Posts: 5
Uncle Buck

I will be glad to post my paper once I have finished, it should be done by the end of next week.

We are to make a presentation of it as well so the pictures and facts that people have been posting will do well to help me in this area. I thank everyone who has been posting within this thread, this will truly help me out a lot. So feel free to continue posting if you would like

Thank you,
Eclipse
Eclipse is offline  
Old June 28, 2011, 09:47 AM   #13
Eclipse
Junior Member
 
Join Date: June 27, 2011
Posts: 5
Don H

Don H: "Would biometric fingerprinting be of much use if fingerprints naturally changed over time or if people could alter their fingerprints at will?"

I just wanted to point out to you that people already do change their fingerprints at will. They do this by burning them off, using acid or other methods. Also the IBIS is not made to give you one direct hit, and nor is the Biometric Fingerprinting method. In fact the Biometric Fingerprinting method is used to give you several (or a pool of) hits, and then they are required to have Fingerprinting analysts to go over them, and determine which of the prints might be a plausible match. No fingerprint analysis will ever say that they are 100% sure that this print matches that, but most are usually only 80% or 85% sure of the matches.

But I do understand what you were trying to prove by your statements.

*Correction made: IBS --> IBIS
Eclipse is offline  
Old June 28, 2011, 10:31 AM   #14
mehavey
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 17, 2010
Location: Virginia
Posts: 3,048
Eclipse,

I want to thank you for asking the members of this Forum for their (in many cases professional) opinion on the issue. As you see by the replies, those opinions range from legal, to technical, to practical and contain the wisdom of a great deal of experience with weapons.

(And as w/ much on this Forum, I learn something new every day. Case in point being the Nat'l Academies Study which advises against trying to rely upon "fingerprinting" in a pre-crime scenario.)

Unfortunately, both sides are emotionally wrapped around the problem: The Gun Nuts point to the Framers' deliberate distrust of/concern for a tyrannical government. The Gun Grabbers alternately point to an increasingly irresponsible plebiscite whose members cannot be trusted with the individual mandate of life and death decision.

You can guess where I come down. But that's after a long life watching this country -- both its gov't and its people -- change. I'd be interested what you finally find to be your own conclusion when the paper's done.
mehavey is offline  
Old June 28, 2011, 12:09 PM   #15
NJgunowner
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 13, 2009
Location: NJ
Posts: 1,101
If you were intent on committing a crime and the shell casings were marked somehow, you'd just use a catcher where they eject... or a revolver.
__________________
Sig 1911 Traditional reverse two tone, Sig p226 .40, Sig 556 Swat patrol, Baby Eagle/jerico steel .45
NJgunowner is offline  
Old June 28, 2011, 05:16 PM   #16
ConlawBloganon
Member
 
Join Date: May 28, 2011
Posts: 47
I'll be interested to read the paper when it comes out. In the meantime, keep your hands off my guns.
ConlawBloganon is offline  
Old June 28, 2011, 05:24 PM   #17
Eghad
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 28, 2005
Location: Texas
Posts: 6,231
Well the easy way to put it would be what if 98% of the samples you had on file from guns was never used in a crime? How much does it cost to compare a ballistic sample only to not have it not match with anything in your sample base if it was from a gun that were made before this became mandatory.

Can you imagine all the taxpayer money spent for little or no results.

Not to mention all the start up money to set it up and them maintain it.

another anti gun scam revealed.
__________________
Have a nice day at the range

NRA Life Member
Eghad is offline  
Old June 28, 2011, 08:05 PM   #18
mehavey
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 17, 2010
Location: Virginia
Posts: 3,048
Quote:
...all the taxpayer money spent for little or no results...
Whatchu mean no results...?

Ve now haf a little List !
Can you say "Baaaaaaaaahhh" ?
mehavey is offline  
Old June 28, 2011, 08:35 PM   #19
rdf.hack
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 7, 2011
Posts: 173
So lets say an assassination was carried out. The sniper was at such a range that he got away without anyone seeing his rifle or himself, and he used a brass catcher on his rifle, lets say that is an M24. But the bullet was retrieved from his victim. Could they tell if it was fired from an M24?
rdf.hack is offline  
Old June 28, 2011, 08:45 PM   #20
Buzzcook
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 29, 2007
Location: Everett, WA
Posts: 5,646
Quote:
If you were intent on committing a crime and the shell casings were marked somehow, you'd just use a catcher where they eject... or a revolver
Not sure if this is a valid argument. It pre-supposes that crimes committed with firearms are pre-planned. iirc the majority of crimes are committed in hot blood and criminals are not generally Professor Moriarty.

Quote:
Do we finger print you prior to using your freedom of speech? How about hand prints prior to using your freedom of religion?
Government does investigate people because of their speech and or religion. Free speech zones are actively used to silence free speech. Religious profiling exists right along side racial.

imho the only serious argument is that such a law would be ineffective and costly.
Even that might not be enough of a bar because we already have many laws that are ineffective and costly.
Buzzcook is offline  
Old June 29, 2011, 08:23 AM   #21
Eclipse
Junior Member
 
Join Date: June 27, 2011
Posts: 5
BGutzman & Others

BGutzman

"The Bill of Rights only mentions one personal possession in a very specific way and that is the "Right to keep and bear arms." No other possession has this very specific protection....Do we finger print you prior to using your freedom of speech? How about hand prints prior to using your freedom of religion?"

I am just wondering on how you view this as an attack on the "right to bear arms," when it is only cataloging what types of guns are made and what their markings are. For one it is not as if they are tracking down every single person that has a gun and taking it from them.
In ballistic crimes, especially murders, the IBIS would be used to narrow down the suspects they already have. Say they have 4 suspects in a murder case and two have registered guns, both of which do not fit within the range the IBIS and the Ballistic expert has given. Whereas out of the other two suspects one is more plausible then the other to have committed the crime, and if they are fast enough on the case (and if the suspect hasn't has time to get rid of the gun) then they could gain a warrant and take them to court.
Also you cannot compare the freedom of speech and the right to bear arms, it’s not proportional. Speeches don't kill people, guns can (depending on who is controlling them at the time.) Religions would be considered a motive within crimes (primarily found in family related crimes.)

Others: Please reframe from posting one line comments within this thread please. Such as:
"Whatchu mean no results...?
Ve now haf a little List !
Can you say "Baaaaaaaaahhh" ?"
or
"I'll be interested to read the paper when it comes out. In the meantime, keep your hands off my guns."
or
"As a similar statewide program, wasn't the fired maryland case included with new handguns, determined to be a waste of resources not having resulted in a single arrest?
Oops, I see BRoberts has a link.
I reload the ones I get."

I am only here to gain SUPPORTED input. It would be very much appreciated if you only posted that. I am not looking to be rude when saying this, but this is for a research paper, not for a relaxed disscution in which I need supported input in, not biased statements. I highly apologize if I have offended anyone.
Eclipse is offline  
Old June 29, 2011, 08:33 AM   #22
Eclipse
Junior Member
 
Join Date: June 27, 2011
Posts: 5
Food For Thought

I have come across some interesting statements for those of you who have been stating that the IBIS has not helped in a single case.

"In Boston [in 2001], for instance, law enforcement was able to connect three weapons seized from several suspects to at least 15 shootings spanning several jurisdictions in two states.

In July [2002] in Louisiana, a suspect arrested for theft of a firearm was quickly connected to an armed robbery and carjacking murder he committed after stealing the firearm, because law enforcement had recovered cartridge casings from each crime scene and linked them to the stolen gun found in the suspect's possession.

Using a networked database containing more than 867,000 "fingerprint" images of shell casings and bullets, investigators were able to link evidence found at the scene of the crime with evidence found at other crime scenes and build a stronger case against the perpetrators."

"And nationally, these images have resulted in almost 12,000 "hits," in which a ballistic fingerprint from one crime is matched with the fingerprint from another crime or from a firearm included in the network. Numerous violent crimes have been solved as a result of this nationwide network."

"Some will argue that no ballistics fingerprint system is infallible, and that these unique fingerprints can be altered or may wear down over time. All of this is true, and nobody argues that this bill would be a panacea for gun crime in the United States—nothing is."

Source Citation: Feinstein, Dianne. "Ballistic Fingerprinting Can Help Reduce Crime." Guns and Crime. Ed. James D. Torr. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2004. At Issue. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 29 June 2011.

"But Luis Tolley, Western director of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said studies showed it took "an extreme amount of firing" -- thousands of shots -- to even slightly alter a gun fingerprint.

And trying to change the markings inside a gun won't throw off investigators either, he said, because a criminal would have to both make new etchings inside the gun and figure out which markings to smooth over.

"It would be like taking a razor blade to slice your thumb in order to alter your fingerprint," Tolley said. "The police would easily be able to match it.""

Source Citation: Salladay, Robert. "'Ballistic fingerprints' not useful yet, study finds; Technology inadequate, Lockyer says." San Francisco Chronicle 30 Jan. 2003: A15. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 29 June 2011.

Last edited by Eclipse; June 29, 2011 at 08:54 AM.
Eclipse is offline  
Old June 29, 2011, 09:01 AM   #23
Bartholomew Roberts
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 12, 2000
Location: Texas and Oklahoma area
Posts: 5,718
Diane Feinstein is a "valid" source?

You (and Feinstein) are confusing the utility of the existing database which tracks only crime guns with one that tracks ALL guns. As 99.9% of firearms are never used in a crime of any kind, you spend a tremendous amount of resources maintaining a database on guns not causing problems - and all those additional options mean that making a match to evidence recovered at a crime scene may be more difficult rather than less as each investigation will now find hundreds, if not thousands, of similar images that must be evaluated by a human being.

The cases you mentioned were useful because the bad guy had the gun and it could be linked to other crimes. Used the way Feinstein suggests, even if the link could be made, all you get is the name of the last legal purchaser, which may have no relation to the criminal.
Bartholomew Roberts is offline  
Old June 29, 2011, 09:01 AM   #24
mehavey
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 17, 2010
Location: Virginia
Posts: 3,048
Source Citations:
Feinstein, Dianne.
Luis Tolley, Western director of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence

Eclipse, you have cited two sources w/ axes to grind (big time).
Go find a gunsmith or two and talk to them, then re-read the Nat'l Acad Study.
mehavey is offline  
Old June 29, 2011, 09:16 AM   #25
Bartholomew Roberts
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 12, 2000
Location: Texas and Oklahoma area
Posts: 5,718
Or go read the California state study that Tolley is responding to which has no axe to grind, as mentioned earlier, there is a link to it if you search past posts on this subject. Reading it will make clear that Tolley doesn't know what he is talking about...

Thousands of rounds to affect markings? I've put 2,100 through a pistol in three days.
Bartholomew Roberts is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 05:55 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2014 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.14863 seconds with 7 queries