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December 04, 2007
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R.I. officials push for 'microstamping' semiautomatics

Microstamping would be used to more easily match a handgun casings

Rhode Island Lawyers Weekly 
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — U.S. senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, Providence Mayor David N. Cicilline and other officials were on hand at the Public Safety Complex to view a demonstration of microstamping, which has opened another front in the long-running national political battle over gun control, according to The Providence Journal.

A bullet casing showing identification codes, or  "microstamping" (at center), is shown through a microscope. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
The mayor, the senators and Police Chief Dean M. Esserman favor legislation that would require manufacturers of semiautomatic handguns to make their weapons leave unique identifying marks on shell casings - microstamping - that would be used to more easily match a casing with the handgun from which it was expended. That information would be a boon to crime-solving, they said.

Cicilline announced that he will reintroduce microstamping legislation that failed in the last session of the Rhode Island General Assembly, the Journal reported.

With established technology, the matching process can be laborious and time-consuming, according to Cicilline and Joshua Horwitz, executive director of the Education Fund to Stop Gun Violence, a nonprofit lobbying organization based in Washington, D.C. And if a casing is not listed in a federal or state government database, no match might be made at all.

What Cicilline, Horwitz and others propose is that manufacturers use lasers to emboss the interiors of their semiautomatic handguns with microscopic letters and numbers that would leave the gun's serial number, the model and the name of the manufacturer on each casing each time the gun is fired, according to the Journal.

Those inscriptions would enable law enforcers, using an existing federal government firearms database, to quickly trace shell casings to the maker of the gun that fired the casing and to the person or entity to whom the gun was sold.

The legislation that Cicilline introduced would make handgun manufacturers and dealers civilly liable for selling handguns that lack the microstamping feature and would make it a criminal offense to alter a handgun in an attempt to foil the microstamping, the Journal reported. 

Copyright 2007 Dolan Media Newswires

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