Gun Violence Victims & Advocates Urge Senate to Include Microstamping in Budget

Governor repeals CoBIS in budget, leaving gap in crime detection
February 14, 2012
Gun violence victims and advocates held a press conference at the State Capitol urging the State Senate to include microstamping in their budget proposal. Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel consoles Dionne Gordon, the sister of Maurice Gordon, a federal law enforcement officer who was shot and killed in front of his parents’ home in Queens in 2010.

Albany – On Valentine’s Day, family members who have lost loved ones to gun violence along with advocates and law enforcement officials joined Senators and Assemblymembers at the State Capitol to urge the State Senate to include microstamping in their budget proposal. The Governor’s executive budget eliminates CoBIS, the state’s pistol and revolver ballistic identification database, leaving a gap in the ability of law enforcement to link shell casings back to the gun that fired them.

Every year in New York State, hundreds of gun-related crimes go unsolved because the crime gun is never recovered and police are unable to connect the shell casings left at the scene of a shooting to the perpetrator. Microstamping ensures that when a gun is fired, information identifying the make, model and serial number of the gun is stamped onto the cartridge as numbers and letters. This technology allows law enforcement to trace firearms through shell casings found at crime scenes, even if the crime gun is never found.

Since 2008, Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel has been working to advance microstamping legislation in the New York State Legislature. Over 100 law enforcement agencies, police departments, and mayors from across the state have endorsed the bill. Although the New York State Assembly passed the measure last year with bipartisan support, the Senate has refused to bring the bill to a vote.

Advocates and family survivors of gun violence met with Senators to discuss the need for microstamping in New York State and urged its inclusion in the Senate budget proposal.

“My brother’s unsolved murder is a gut-wrenching experience that our family must endure daily. Elected officials are unaware of what challenges law enforcement officials face when they willingly pursue offenders while outmatched through more savvy methods of evasion. We fully support legislation that will aid our protectors in apprehending, and above all, preventing others from having to experience the untold sadness felt by the grieving family members of those stolen by gun violence,” said Dionne Gordon, whose brother, Maurice Gordon, a Federal law enforcement officer from Freeport, was shot and killed in front of his parents’ home in Jamaica, Queens in 2010. Officer Gordon is survived by his wife and two young children. Although twenty-five shell casings were found at the scene of the crime, Officer Gordon’s murder remains unsolved.

“Microstamping is all about public safety and catching criminals. The family survivors can speak to that issue as no one else can. Law Enforcement Officer Maurice Gordon was shot and killed. 25 shell casings were retrieved. No suspect, no gun, no leads. What do you tell his family when there is a preponderance of evidence by way of shell casings, and you have the means to stop these crimes, but not the political will,” said Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel, the sponsor of microstamping legislation in the Assembly.

New Yorkers Against Gun Violence also released “Anonymous Shell Casings: Unsolved Crimes Waiting for Microstamping to be Passed,” a new report highlighting over 140 unsolved gun crimes in New York where no crime gun was found, but shell casings were recovered. To read the report, visit the New Yorkers Against Gun Violence Web site.

Jackie Hilly, the Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, said, “Gun violence plagues communities around New York every single day--as mothers are shot picking children up from school, grandmothers are gunned down in their own kitchens, and two year olds are shot in their car seats. The sad truth is hundreds of heinous gun crimes remain unsolved every year in New York and we can do more to help solve them by giving law enforcement the tools they need. While parents bury their innocent children and grieve for a lifetime, a murderer remains free. We must not allow criminals to run free when microstamping, a simple tool, can help solve gun crimes and give grieving families the justice they deserve. The New York State Senate should stand with victims and law enforcement and include microstamping in the 2012 budget. Including microstamping in the budget will assist those sworn to protect and defend us, and will take guns away from criminals before they have a chance to use them again.”

“We need to arm law enforcement with the resources needed to disarm our streets,” said State Senator Jose Peralta, who sponsors microstamping legislation in the Senate. “Throughout New York State, hundreds of shooting cases, including murders, go unsolved every year because police are unable to connect evidence found at the scene of a shooting to a perpetrator. Often the best leads at the scene are shell casings, but, in the absence of microstamping technology, police are rarely able to connect a shell casing back to the gun that fired it. Microstamping is a 21st Century law enforcement tool that will make cities and towns across New York safer by helping put violent gun criminals behind bars. We owe it to the victims whose murders remain unsolved to make microstamping the law in New York.”

“Legislators, advocates, mayors, and police from across New York agree that we need to enact microstamping legislation, and we need to do it now,” said Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, a co-sponsor of the bill in the Assembly. “Time is of the essence; the sooner microstamping becomes law, the sooner it will help solve violent crimes, deter illegal gun trafficking, and ultimately save lives.”

“Without microstamping, we are depriving law enforcement of a critical crime-solving tool. It is mind-boggling that we allow hundreds of cases of murder and gun violence to go unsolved each year without providing police with the ability to connect shell casings with their guns. The Senate should support microstamping in the budget. The vast majority of stakeholders, from law enforcement to mayors to crime victims, agree: microstamping is critical,” said State Senator Daniel Squadron, a co-sponsor of the bill in the Senate.

“Law enforcement needs every possible resource to effectively investigate and prosecute violent gun crimes,” Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said. “Microstamping provides a critical starting point for detectives and invaluable physical evidence at trial, and I strongly encourage the State Senate to include microstamping in its forthcoming budget proposal.”