Gun control measures: misplaced trust

By on February 13, 2003

Recent events in the news such as the sniper shootings in Washington, D.C., the continued violence that plagues our urban areas and the many other violent crimes that go unsolved each have brought the issue of gun control back into the national spotlight.

A host of new measures aimed at catching the perpetrators of these violent crimes have been introduced by the anti-gun lobby. Unfortunately, many misguided politicians, who are lured by the false promises of utopia that these proposals hold, have decided to tag along for the ride.

By far the most popular of these new proposals is the farce of a national ballistics fingerprinting database, or BFD. Reported widely in the media as an end-all to the investigative processes that ensue after a violent crime, it is troubling that few reporters or politicians rarely evaluate new proposals past the point of saying, “Hey, that sounds like a good idea to me.”

The logic behind this proposal of “fingerprinting” every barrel of every gun in this country is laughable and maligns the character of gun owners who legally acquire and use their guns.

Both the forensic and factual evidence against the national BFD is quite convincing. Aside from the cost of millions of taxpayer dollars to implement such a plan, it will largely be ineffectual because of the nature of most violent crimes.

Many leaps of faith must be made to accept the viability of the BFD, the first of which is that every single gun already owned both legally and illegally – some 350 million in this country – will undergo the fingerprinting process.

We must also all have faith that the process will actually have reproducible results. Gun experts acknowledge the fact that with time, the “fingerprints” of all gun barrels inevitably change.

With every shot that is fired from a gun’s barrel, the fingerprint degrades slightly. The situation eventually arises whereby the original fingerprint is rendered useless. Barrels can be replaced on almost any rifle, further calling into question the enforceability of this law.

A criminal would merely have to pay the inconsequential fee to have the barrel on his gun changed to render the BFD useless.

In addition, we must also acknowledge the fact that hundreds of thousands of guns are brought into the United States illegally every year, and that the black market value of these rifles is in the hundreds of million dollars. Can this illicit trade in illegal firearms ever be curtailed?

Like the drug trade, our government will never be able to stop criminals lured by the millions of dollars in profits they make breaking the law.

The main issue with this law is more visceral, though, for this proposal places trust in all the wrong places. It places trust in the misnomer that ballistic fingerprinting will work with new and used firearms and that the system cannot easily be defeated by a determined criminal.

It goes further, though, placing more trust in criminals than the law- abiding hunters and sports shooters in this country of which there are some seventy million.

How can we ever expect people who own guns illegally to willingly turn in their guns to be registered?

Furthermore, how can we trust criminals; people who have already broken the law to acquire these guns, the very same people who are many times more likely to commit violent crimes with these guns, more than the people who acquire and register their firearms legally?

To accept this farce as an end-all to solving violent crimes committed with guns is to accept the character of criminals over that of average citizens.

Should the everyday citizen be penalized with more regulation and registration so lobbyists can feel safer and their political lackeys can get reelected by being “tough on crime”?

I think not, and it troubles me to think people are now in a post Sept. 11 America are willing to put more faith in government regulation, law enforcement and even criminals, than the average citizen who stands beside them.


About Anthony Pellegrino