Democratic lawmaker pushes microstamping of guns to solve crimes
Vehicles are identified by Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN, or by their license plates. An Illinois lawmaker is asking why guns can’t be identified the same way.
State Rep. Denyse Wang Stoneback, D-Skokie, presented a “gut and replace” amendment to House Bill 2769 in the House Police and Fire committee Thursday morning. The amendment creates a bill aimed at gun safety through new technology to identify gun ownership when a weapon is involved in violent crimes.
Stoneback’s bill establishes a grant program for Illinois police departments to introduce and incentivize a new ballistics analysis technique called microstamping.
Microstamping allows a shell casing to be traced back to not only the type of firearm used, but the specific weapon used, identified by serial number. The stamp on each shell casing comes from a specially manufactured firing pin in each firearm. This practice is not yet common practice in any other state.
Park Ridge Police Chief Frank Kaminski, who has over four decades of law enforcement experience, offered his support for the bill. He visualizes the potential that microstamping will have in future crime scenes.
“Someday, an officer can go to a crime scene, an evidence technician can get the casing with the micro stamping, and they can immediately start to connect the dots on a case. I mean, that to us is the future. And that is just how we'll be able to do our profession better, to build public trust and to solve crimes and to lock up the bad guys,” said Kaminski.
Stoneback sees microstamping as an easy way to track gun violence, and her aim is to introduce the technology to police departments so that they can familiarize themselves before it becomes the norm for Illinois firearms.
There is dispute over the cost of manufacturing the firing pin needed to introduce microstamping. Joshua Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, purports that microstamp firing pins would cost between 50 cents and $5; Ed Sullivan of the Illinois State Rifle Association, however, said he believes the cost would be closer to $150 per firing pin.
Neither party disclosed the source of their manufacturing cost estimates. There is also no clear idea of how often firing pins will need to be replaced to continue clear microstamp production.
The National Rifle Association is opposed to the bill.
“Microstamping is easily defeated, deliberately or inadvertently, by switching parts, by it becoming worn through normal use and cleaning of the firearm, or by deliberately defacing by grinding, abrading, etc.,” the NRA said in a call to action on its website.
Stoneback ended her comments with a plea for the bill as a method of accountability and a step toward gun safety in the future.
“Do you want to hold people who commit crimes with guns accountable? Do you want to provide justice to the victims' families? And do you want to help law enforcement solve gun crimes more efficiently? Because if you answered yes to those questions, then I think this bill will help provide a solution,” said Stoneback.
HB2769 will go back to the floor for a vote after it passes through the Police and Fire committee.