Albany - In an effort to help law enforcement solve gun crimes, Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel (D-Great Neck) and Senator Eric Schneiderman (D-Manhattan/Bronx) are leading the fight in the New York State Legislature on microstamping legislation (A.6468/S.4397). Microstamping technology is designed to aid law enforcement in investigating and solving homicides and other gun-related crimes.
Assemblywoman Schimel and Senator Schneiderman were joined last week at a press conference in Albany by Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice and law enforcement officials from across the state to advocate for the passage of the Crime Gun Identification Act (A.6468/S.4397). This bill requires all semiautomatic pistols manufactured or delivered to any licensed firearms dealer in the State of New York to be capable of microstamping ammunition by January 1, 2011.
Assemblywoman Schimel's microstamping bill (A.6468), which has widespread support among law enforcement agencies and anti-gun violence groups, passed the New York State Assembly on April 28. In the days leading up to and following the passage of her legislation, Assemblywoman Schimel made television and newspaper headlines across the state. Some of the featured newspaper headlines included, Gun Control Battle Focuses on Microstamping Proposal, State Senate Could Ok Bullet Tracing Bill, Gun Law Discord Heats Up, and State Gun Bill Seeks To Make An Impression.
"No shooter has the right to hide behind a blank shell casing. When a person is murdered or victimized with a firearm we want to know who fired that gun," said Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel, a board member of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence since 1994.
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 officials to trace firearms through cartridge casings found at crime scenes, even if the crime gun is never found. This crime-fighting tool will provide law enforcement with rapid leads at crime scenes and will provide evidence to help investigate, arrest, and convict more perpetrators of gun-related crimes.
"Law enforcement officers need as many tools as possible to solve gun crimes and to prevent the trafficking of illegal guns often used in crimes. Microstamping is just such a tool. The Senate owes it to the public and to our law enforcement officers to enact legislation that ensures that this tool is available here in New York," said Senator Eric Schneiderman, Chairman of the Senate Codes Committee.
This legislation (A.6468/S.4397) will not place any restrictions on gun ownership or access, will not require any new databases, and will not impose any new costs on the state. Manufacturers will incur minimal costs to adopt this technology.
Todd Lizotte, the co-inventor of microstamping technology, has said that he will offer this technology royalty free to any manufacturer making guns for the United States domestic market because he believes that it is an important tool for law enforcement.
According to Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, "Microstamping is another 'common sense' tool law enforcement can use to keep our community safe. Like fingerprinting and DNA testing, microstamping is a technological advancement that will strengthen prosecutions of the guilty and help exonerate the innocent. We need this legislation. I applaud Assemblywoman Schimel and Senator Schneiderman in their efforts to improve public safety and draft laws that will make our communities safer places."
Sobering statistics from the FBI indicate that nearly 40% of all homicides go unsolved each year in the United States. In 2005, there were over 3,000 unsolved gun-related homicides nationwide. In the future, New York could see a higher percentage of closed firearm cases if investigators could identify crime guns solely from cartridge cases collected at crime scenes. Microstamping will also help reduce gun trafficking of new semiautomatic handguns by creating accountability. Legal purchasers who buy guns for traffickers, also known as straw buyers, will be deterred once they know crimes committed with these guns can be traced back to them.
"Police investigators work hard to catch the perpetrators who prey on our communities, prosecutors work hard to build cases against these criminals, and victims of gun violence and their families deserve some degree of justice for the heinous crimes they have endured. It is unacceptable not to embrace this effective law enforcement tool," said Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel.
Assemblywoman Schimel and Senator Schneiderman have the support of more than 90 law enforcement agencies and elected officials, including those communities most impacted by gun violence, such as Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, Schenectady and Hempstead.
"I applaud Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel for pursuing the passage of her Microstamping Bill. With the passage of this bill, law enforcement agencies across the state of New York will now have a valuable tool to utilize in criminal investigations involving firearms. This technology embeds information about a gun on the casing of each bullet it fires. Investigators at crime scenes could use the stamped bullet casing to track the owner of the firearm," said Robert D'Angelo, President of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police.