Close to 40 percent of all homicides nationwide go unsolved each year. To help improve this gravely disappointing statistic, Representative Xavier Becerra (CA-31), Assistant to the Speaker of the House, today introduced the National Crime Gun Identification Act of 2008. Senator Edward Kennedy (MA) introduced an identical companion bill in the Senate.
Microstamping is the next generation in ballistics technology that gives police more precise investigative leads to pursue criminals. Internal surfaces of the gun etch tiny characters on every fired bullet cartridge so that officers can identify the make, model and serial number of the gun from which it was fired. A single microstamped cartridge recovered at a crime scene can lead police to the gun - and the criminal that fired it. The Kennedy-Becerra authored legislation would require that all semiautomatic pistols sold after January 1, 2010, include microstamped identifiers.
"Gun microstamping is a simple and effective technology that promises to save lives and keep violent criminals off the streets," Rep. Becerra said. "It is inexpensive for gun manufacturers to implement, does not infringe on personal gun ownership rights, and provides a powerful investigative tool to our law enforcement officers."
"Congress should be quick to support emerging technologies that enable law enforcement to make more effective use of evidence at crime scenes," Senator Kennedy said. "We have a clear responsibility to do all we can to supply police officers and investigators with the most technologically advanced means to solve these horrific crimes."
This past October, the State of California enacted nearly-identical legislation, which was authored by Assemblyman Mike Feuer and signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
"Once again, my home state of California is leading the way by giving first responders the tools they need to solve gun crimes," Rep. Becerra said. "Now it's time to enact this legislation on a federal level. We owe it to the victims of gun crimes to give investigators every lead possible."
Rep. Becerra is a long-time advocate of microstamping technology and has been working with Senator Kennedy on their legislation for quite some time. To educate folks on the benefits of microstamping, the two legislators hosted a briefing and live demonstration of the crime solving capabilities of the technology last Spring in Washington, D.C.
"Gun violence is a serious threat to public safety in every community in America," Senator Kennedy said. "We have an opportunity with this legislation to show that we value the lives of every citizen and will use the best technology available to stop the violence."
The U.S. Conference of Mayors, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence have all submitted letters of support for the Kennedy-Becerra legislation.