The Smallest Minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities. - Ayn Rand
OK, I didn't have time to plow through that whole thing-hopefully I will later.
But the statement by the Brady's (I think) on the Mohammed/Malvo case is praticularly disengenuous and reliant of people's lack of knowledge of firearms.
BF is particularly useless with the AR family, since the S/N is on the lower receiver, while the upper is easy to change out-resulting in a new bolt, chamber, and barrel. And these can even be in a totally different caliber-ranging from .22LR to .50 Beowolf.
Another fun hypothetical: I reload, and I re-use cartridge cases. So most of those case have been fired multiple times, for several different guns. Let's see the techs deal with that.
Title: Ballistic Fingerprinting Bunked
Excerpt: Why ballistic fingerprinting doesn't, and won't, work.
Kevin over at The Smallest Minority has written a rather revealing exposition on the limitations of ballistic fingerprinting, the science of identifying a firearm used in a crime by the marks ...
Blog name: Outside the Box
Too much faith is being put into the BF B.S. by the MSM, either through ignorance intent. One might wonder if those who are in support of this dollar-eating scheme gather their "information" or "knowledge" on this subject from television fantasy such as the popular shows "CSI" (and the spin-off of similar name), "Law and Order" (plus it's spin-offs) and "Third Watch".
These widely viewed weeekly shows have all used BF to triumph over evil, so-to-speak. I recall (with a chuckle) hearing such "scientific" and "firearms-savvy" lines as [all are paraphrased]: "armor-piercing hollow-points, 9 millimeter.", "We found him with a Plus P slug in his head. Only police have those.", "The cartridge[cartridge?] recovered from his body is too mangled for ballistic I.D." [pray tell, what firearm launches the entire catridge? Perhaps the decedent was hit with a cartidge cycled though a firearm's action during an unloading, such as with a lever-action rifle or shotgun? ;^)], and "That's M-16 ammo. He's got a machine gun!".
Unfortunately, this type of "drama" is all too believable to much of the audience and helps fuel support for the BF schemes proposed by the anti-gun lobby.
Forgot to give praise where it is due:
BRAVO on your analysis!
Title: Why ballistic "fingerprints" aren't
Excerpt: Kevin over at the Smallest Minority has an outstanding and detailed post on this that truly must be read in full.
Blog name: Posse Incitatus
Well, rimfire, as Heartless noted, even he didn't slog through the whole thing. If I tried to cover every problem with BF, the piece would be longer than the nearly 5,000 words it is now. By a factor of two or three.
I tried to limit the dissertation to California's, Maryland's, and New York's IBIS systems, but the gun grabbers are the ones who obfuscated and mislead by bringing up the D.C. Snipers, so I had to comment on that. I tried to keep it short. (No, really!)
Well written, Kevin.
I read the whole thing, and it certainly answered any questions I might have had on this topic. This'll be great ammo (pun intended) if someone brings up the topic of "gun DNA" in conversation.
Please forgive this slight digression from the topic...
I don't know much about ammunition, so when RFJ said he heard the phrase "armor-piercing hollow-points, 9 millimeter" on a TV program, I was a bit confused. This (to me) implied a handgun, but there's no such thing as armor-piercing handgun ammo, right? If it was supposed to be a rifle, aren't hollow-points not known for their "armor-piercing" capability? Did the writers use "hollow-points" and "armor-piercing" just because this sounds bad-ass? And while we're on the topic of TV misnomers, what are "cop killer" bullets?
First, there's a significant difference between armor piercing ammunition, and ammunition designed to defeat the ballistic vests worn by police officers, but the gun-control groups lump them all together. Specifically, armor piercing ammo is designed to punch through light armor plate like that found on military vehicles. This is pretty much exclusively limited to rifles, but there are some submachinegun and handgun rounds that can fill the bill. For example, the trick Fabrique National P90 submachineguns used on Stargate SG-1 are chambered for a little tiny 5.7x28mm round specifically designed to be able to penetrate light plate. That same ammo is chambered for a pistol called the Five seveN (yes, that's correct capitalization) that carries an evil magazine that holds TWENTY rounds.
The Five seveN is available to the public, but the only ammo available to civilians is a hollowpoint version that won't penetrate plate. But it CAN penetrate most ballistic vests. It's small, shaped like an icepick, and goes very fast. Vests don't stop icepicks well, either.
Now. other than that round, the overwhelming majority of handgun ammunition will not penetrate a vest - BUT there are classes of vest and the classification details what the vest is designed to stop. A Class II vest, for example, should stop a 9mm. A class IIA vest should stop a .357 Magnum. A class III vest should stop a .44 Magnum. Each of these vests is progressively heavier and stiffer, being made of multiple layers of Kevlar sewn together. When you get to a vest designed to stop a rifle round, it includes steel or ceramic plates, is as stiff as you'd expect, and weighs a lot. That's what our soldiers are wearing in Iraq. There was some 9mm high-pressure ammo imported from the ex-Soviet bloc that was designed for submachine guns. It had a steel core and was high-velocity. It was capable of defeating a standard Class IIA vest, and subsequently banned from import.
Concerning "cop killer" bullets, from Guncite:
In the mid 1960's, Dr. Paul Kopsch (an Ohio coroner), Daniel Turcos (a police sergeant) and Donald Ward (Dr. Kopsch's special investigator) began experimenting with special purpose handgun ammunition. Their objective was to develop a law enforcement round capable of improved penetration against hard targets like windshield glass and automobile doors. Conventional bullets, made primarily from lead, are often ineffective against hard targets especially when fired at handgun velocities. In the 1970's, Kopsch, Turcos and Ward produced their "KTW" handgun ammunition using steel cored bullets capable of great penetration. Following further experimentation, in 1981 they began producing bullets constructed primarily of brass. The hard brass bullets caused exceptional wear on handgun barrels, a problem combated by coating the bullets with Teflon. The Teflon coating did nothing to improve penetration, it simply reduced damage to the gun barrel.
Despite the facts that "KTW" ammunition had never been available to the general public and that no police officer has ever been killed by a handgun bullet penetrating their body armor, the media incorrectly reported that the Teflon coated bullets were designed to defeat the body armor that law enforcement officers were beginning to use. The myth of "Cop-killer" bullets was born.
Don't get me started on the "Black Rhino" bullshit.
Hollowpoint bullets are designed to expand on impact, and are thus constructed of soft lead with a copper jacket. Bullets designed to penetrate ballistic vests are solid metal, or have a steel or tungsten penetrator core. Thus "armor piercing" and "hollowpoint" in the same description is an oxymoron. You were right. It sounded bad-ass.
If you want some more information, read the whole Guncite page and/or my piece Speaking of Teddy Kennedy...
Longest post ever.
I said it was Den Bestian in length!
But did you read it?
Kevin, thanks for the explanation!
Great job explaining the idiocy of "armor-piercing hollow-points", etc.
The reference to the TV shows was my attempt to point out that this kind of tripe becomes urban legend or "common knowledge" simply because it was stated on a "cop show". The BF scam is reflected in what the writers of these shows portray.
Title: The Utter Failure of Ballistic Fingerprinting
Excerpt: This is why I love Smallest Minority. Head over there and read the exhaustive work "Why Ballistic Fingerprinting Doesn't (and Won't) Work". While an honest effort to do somethiing about gun crime is laudable, this excellent and well-referenced work...
Blog name: Head's Bunker
I made it through the whole thing. Good post. Thanks Kevin.
Simpler explanation of armor-piercing hollowpoints:
Armor piercing bullets are designed to penetrate more then "standard" bullets, to get through hard targets. Hollowpoint bullets are designed to penetrate less then "standard" bullets, so the bullet doesn't exit a person's body after hitting it. Combining more penetration and less penetration in the same bullet is clearly nonsense.
Read the whole thing. Great. I suspect this will become a definitive piece to be used when argueing before lawmakers.
I could sum a lot of it up by introducing into the discussion, my Estwing checker-faced framing hammer. This tool has had a long and interesting life, and one look at the face should tell you that a copy of the indents it left when new bear no resemblance to what it leaves today. Easier to bring into a legislative hearing room than a gun, too.
I will keep the article marked, where I can find it. Thanks.
RMJ, the point was well made.
Combining more penetration and less penetration in the same bullet is clearly nonsense.
That's what I thought. I got my first lesson on this last month when I visited an outdoor range and asked why they don't allow FMJ rifle ammo.
There is a difference, however, in hollowpoint rifle ammunition, vs. hollowpoint defensive handgun ammunition. Quite often the hollowpoint in a rifle bullet is an attempt to increase the ballistic coefficient of the bullet without adding significantly to the bullet mass. The 168 grain BTHP round used in .308 sniper rifles doesn't expand appreciably better than a FMJ round does, but it is a premium "match" bullet capable of better long-range accuracy than an FMJ bullet of the same weight.
I suspect that the hollowpoint 5.7x28 round isn't that good an expander, either.
Sheesh, what I don't know about ammo is a lot. Thanks for the lessons.
I've speculated on this per my best edjumakated guess, but how many rounds fired would it take to significantly alter the marks left on a projectile or casing?
I assume that the low powered handgun rounds (.32 acp, .45 Colt, etc)& rifle cartridges (.32-40 Winchester, .32 Winchester Special, etc) would wear much more slowly than say a 9mm or a .243 Winchester. But how many rounds of a common handgun cartridge (such as the 9mm) & rifle cartridge (such as the .30-06) would it take to significantly alter the markings? I assume in the former a dozen or two & the latter under a dozen.
Of course lead vs. jacketed projectiles would make a big difference & I'd assume even at best the match probability from two consecutive rounds would only approach 80% or so, but assuming jacketed bullets how many shots would reduce the probability to less than 50%?
Any thoughts or know of any studies on this?
Title: Keyboard check
Excerpt: Is this thing still on? Yes? Good.
For the past while I haven't touched the computer except to search and apply for jobs and email recruiters to keep me in front of them.
So far I have had a few interviews, but haven't landed anything yet. I ha...
Blog name: Solarvoid
I haven't seen any, just mention of "rapid initial wear" in the BF study reports.
Title: BALLISTIC FINGERPRINTING -- AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS . . . GONE
Excerpt: In the wake of a report concluding that Maryland's Integrated Ballistic Identification (
Blog name: Stop the Bleating!
Well written Well done!!!
The time to change a Barrel and alter the breach face in a 1911 or a Glock is Between 2 to 3 min.
Costly,doesn't work,Yeah shounds like The perfect Democrat plan to me
Thanks for the great article. I've researched the issue quite a bit, so there isn't much new to me except that this was all in one place and it quoted from some pretty damning objective reports. Thanks for all of the work in putting this together - I've bookmarked it.
There are, as you mentioned, other problems with such a database. The biggest is the fact that it is EASY to either alter the BF or to send the police off in a whole other direction:
First, what would prevent some fairly knowledgeable criminal from picking up used brass of the same caliber from a range and leaving THAT at the crime scene. It wouldn't be difficult to collect all of your brass, esp. if you had some kind of brass catcher attached to the gun (maybe even just a heavy plastic bag taped up the right way). This would send the police off to another gun, EVEN ASSUMING that the system worked as advertised (which, as you showed so definitively, it doesn't).
A variation on that theme is to use a revolver, and to then scatter brass from some semi-auto at the seen. If the criminal wanted to really tie the cops into knots, he'd scatter brass from several calibers and from several different guns within each caliber.
Second, there are ways of altering guns that are highly beneficial for the user. I speak specifically of fire-lapping, which is designed to smooth out barrels (thereby changing the markings left on bullets) by running a bullet through the barrel which has lapping compound imbedded into it. No, this doesn't affect the markings on brass, but it also alters the evidence. Let's see someone be charged with a crime who's got a bright lawyer. Criminal does shooting, and goes from crime scene to firing range with previously loaded fire-lapping bullets (said firing range can also be a site in the middle of nowhere, so that no one can even report that someone of a particular description came to a real range). Lawyer says: "OK, jury, here are the marks on the bullet(s) pulled from the crime victim. Over here are the markings from the bullets fired from the defendant's gun only a few hours later. They are completely different - how could my client be the shooter? The police have obviously made yet another error." Voila, shooter set free.
As mentioned by others, reloading of ammo also complicates matters. How many who read this blog reload? Quite a number, I'd bet. I'd also bet that every single one of them has picked up range brass from others, and/or ordered "once"-fired brass from a place like Midway (which, to add a bunch of irony here, gets a LOT of its fired handgun cases from police ranges). It is a cheap hobby to get into, and even a fairly stupid criminal can pick up a reloading kit and reload 50 shells in a couple of hours. Short of closing down reloading, and confiscating all of the reloading gear out there, this factor only further complicates matters for someone trying to trace a gun to a spent case.
My prior comment was cut off. The conclusion basically stated that this is so unworkable that a knowledgeable 10-year-old would be able to tell you that it can't work - and this proves that THE GUN-GRABBERS KNOW IT. They are just being a bunch of lying bastards again, trying yet another back-door route to registration of guns, to be followed later on (in their wet dreams) with confiscation. Well, my only comment about that is that no one will have any trouble matching my brass to my gun, as it will be surrounding me, and the gun will be the very hot item clenched in my rapidly-cooling, dead hands.
Even cleaning a firearm carelessly can change its markings.
The clever antigun zealot will try to use many of the criticisms of BF to outlaw any activities that might make BF unworkable. Surely the Brady gang would like to outlaw reloading? Gunsmithing in the home too?
However, I think we may be looking at a watershed. Gunbloggers are quickly making the point that Everything You Know About Gun Control is Wrong.
This is the time to roll it back. F = m * a, guys. It's a big mass of laws complicating gun ownership; as we continue to apply force against them, they will accelerate into the dustbin of American history.
Fûz wrote: Gunbloggers are quickly making the point that Everything You Know About Gun Control is Wrong.
That's the primary reason I started this blog. I got really tired of the lies and wanted a place to voice my displeasure - and the facts.
Another point about BF that got missed in all the technobabble - even if it worked perfectly, it's of very little use without full registration.
As mentioned, the time to crime for most guns is 5 to 10 years, and they almost certainly aren't being used by their original buyer. The current serial number system at best leads you to the original buyer. But there's no telling who he sold it to, or who that guy sold it to, and so on.
Therefore, it's mainly another way to try to get full registration. They'll say "The BF databases would solve a lot more crimes if only we tracked the gun through every sale"
Shhhhhhh! You're not supposed to understand that!
Go read Spin, Spin, Spin that I linked to at the bottom of the post. Ex-BATF agent William Vizzard states it explicitly:
"Frankly collecting ("ballistic fingerprint" data) at the time of import or manufacture would make more sense. We're talking about a lot of guns here and I envision ATF being back where they were when they used to put personnel at the distilleries -- simply putting somebody at the factory and scanning the data in there, but without a national gun registration and licensing system, you've got real limits on the value."
At almost 5,000 words, this piece was long enough.
Title: Why ballistic fingerprinting won't work
Excerpt: Over at The Smallest Minority, there's an excellent article explaining exactly why ballistic fingerprinting won't work.
Blog name: TriggerFinger
Long, but well done. I got the link from Kim DuToit's site. Please keep this on-line for reference. This is very useful to know. Sometimes you can find a liberal who is willing to listen to facts.
The left-wing anti-gun zealots NEVER let facts get in the way of their agenda. That's why I draw a distinction between a liberal and a left-winger.
When it rolls off the front page, I'll put a link to it under "Best Posts." I didn't do that much work for it to just disappear.
Hard linked ya... :)
Great work, Kevin. I know it took you hours to compose, but it obviously took you much longer to research. You are to be applauded for your dedication. Now, go put on a fresh set of pajamas.
But, assuming that BF is only possible when comparing brass fired from autoloaders, allow me to emphasize two points:
First point, which has been mentioned already: reloaded ammunition.
Sure, it's very difficult to compare 'crimescene' brass with 'benchmark' brass, when factory ammunition (new brass) is used in both cases. And sure, if you reload -- especially with 'range brass' -- the possibility of a lab tech correctly identifying the gun type/make etc. is dramatically reduced.
But many fully equiped commercial shooting ranges also sell ammunition, and the cheapest brand is "remanufactured".
These professional reloaders use 'range' brass which has been sold to them from shooting ranges, mix it all up, and as long as there's nothing obviously wrong with the brass it will be sold once again. This ammunition may have been fired from a number of guns, leaving 'traces' which overlap each other until nothing (except the firing pin indentation, which will be original since the primer will be replaced each time) is a one-time impression. If a criminal uses remanufactured ammunition, there may well be too many scuffs, scratches and indentations to sort them out.
In other words, even people who don't reload their own ammunition may be using 'reloaded' brass.
Second point: the criteria for matching cases doesn't seem to mention extractors, but rather places undue emphasis on ejector marks. In my experience, the ejector is less likely to leave as obviously fresh marks on used brass than an extractor.
The last paragraph outlines the fault with government by ideals(liberal/socialist) and why it allways fails, one point is it not possable to re-load cases? that would be a whole new can of worms .
Title: Ballistic Fingerprinting: an unofficial report on New York's system
Excerpt: When Maryland's state police recently released a report extremely critical of the ballistic fingerprinting program in that state, it generated quite a buzz. It's not often that an official government report calls for the elimination of a government ...
Blog name: TriggerFinger
For more info on NY's CoBIS program go to:
This is the page that was used as "Appendix A" in the MD report.
The extractor marks are not used because the IBIS system is pretty much limited to imaging the case HEAD. The extractor marks the opposite side of the case rim, and thus aren't imaged.
Been there, done that. Four and a half years ago, in fact. See:
Title: The Carnival of the Vanities, #122
Excerpt: THE CARNIVAL OF THE VANITIES, EPISODE 122: War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength…and I’m in charge! Once again I’ve returned to the man the helm of the Good Ship Lollipop. Having been here twice before, Bigwig clearl...
Blog name: The People's Republic of Seabrook
Title: NO, REALLY, IT DOESN'T WORK
Excerpt: So one of your liberal friends starts going on & on about how this country would be better & safer if we instituted a nationwide "ballistic fingerprinting" system for guns. If you're like me, your first instinct is to pistol-whip...
Blog name: Bad Example
…as the left and right continue to bicker, the smart criminals of the world circumvent the problem in its entirety and decide to only use sawed-off shotguns from here on in…
Title: Similar Fingerprints?
Excerpt: I\'ve come across the term \'ballistic fingerprinting\' but had no clue about what it meant. Now, I find out that
Blog name: Isaac SchrÃ¶dinger
And what of the possibility of bullets with jackets that don't stay with the projectile...I've seen 30-30 rounds loaded with a saboted .25 caliber bullet...Go to the range and dig up some full metal jackets that aren't too deformed, with rifling intact, sabot them and shoot them from a larger caliber rifle. Have your rifle overbored and use paper sabots. Not to mention shotguns.. If someone wants to commit a crime bad enough, and is witty enough about it to aviod being apprehended, they will. No amount of laws will stop someone with enough criminal intent. Lawmakers need to focus on taking away the reason for committing the crime, not the means, for that is an impossible task not to mention unconstitutional.
Title: #71 Best of Me Symphony
Excerpt: \"... none of them pointed out that Flagrant Pork would be a good name for a rock band.â
Blog name: The Owner\'s Manual
You forgot to mention that NY and Maryland only image new guns sold in their respective states. Do guns, or gun-runners know borders? I'll save you the mystery, no!
Well, jc, I thought I was pretty clear on that point.
I don't recall the details of where I read this, but it fits into this subject.
Mafia? hitman was found with a 1911 and a number of extra barrels for it. Along with a receipt for two dozen barrels.
Hmmm, to update himself, a hitman would have to add a similar number of firing pins, extractors, and a small Arkansas stone for breech and ejector. No problems!
It's amazing how this parallels safety arguments for cars. Some "safety" zealot will ask for a law that forces manufacturers to sell cars that get 80 mpg AND can safely hit a barrier at 80 mph. It sounds great until an engineer who actually knows about cars tells you that the physics involved, the SCIENCE, doesn't compute.
Thanks for an incredibly informative article. I'm sure the anti-gunners probably avoid reading factual information such as this (who wants to debunk their closely-held beliefs), but at the very least, it gives the rest of us useful information to bolster our case when debating our friends.
Lately, I've been much less reserved about letting my views be known. I've found that when you're articulate (not shrill or pushy), many people are open to counterpoint from a well-informed individual.
One other thing: At the end of the article, you wondered aloud whether the Maryland gun sales disappeared or went black market. I think this undercuts your argument that law abiding citizens jump through hoops and criminals circumvent the law. In other words, someone could draw the conclusion that some of purchases under the old system were actually purchases by criminals.
Oh wait. Maybe you meant that the guns were purchase legally in another state and brought into Maryland, thus becoming a sort of grey market item. I'm not sure how that works.
I figured the drop-off had to do with people purchasing each other's used guns, or, as in the previous paragraph, purchasing in another state.
Again, great article. You're a valuable resource to have in fighting the gun confiscation folks.
The point of the question was whether the law made otherwise law-abiding people into lawbreakers, or if it actually accomplished its (un)stated purpose - reducing the number of guns in the hands of the law abiding.
Some people do adhere to the belief that an unconstitutional law is no law at all. Only then do they weigh the consequences of getting caught breaking that unconstitutional law against the benefits.
Living in a nation of sovereign individuals can be messy.