Maryland has Dumped its “Gun Fingerprint” Cartridge Case Database
Russ Chastain 05.04.16
In yet another case of well-intentioned but misguided legislation failing miserably, the state of Maryland repealed its failed “gun fingerprint” system last fall after collecting more than 300,000 cartridges cases in 15 years–without solving a single criminal case.
An article in the Baltimore Sun details the history of the system, which was implemented in 2000 and required photographing and cataloging an empty case from every handgun sold in the state of Maryland.
In a[n] old fallout shelter beneath Maryland State Police headquarters in Pikesville, the state has amassed more than 300,000… casings, one from each new handgun sold here since the law took effect. They fill three cavernous rooms secured by a common combination lock.
Each casing was meticulously stamped with a bar code, sealed in its own envelope and filed in boxes stacked from floor to ceiling. Forensic scientists photographed the casings in hopes the system would someday identify the owner of a gun fired at a crime scene. The system cost an estimated $5 million to set up and operate over the years.
The computer system put into place for matching up photos of the cases was such a failure that the state stopped bothering to take the photos in 2007, although by law they still continued to collect cases. In 2009 they sued the system provider for $1.9 million, receiving a settlement for just $390,000 in 2012.
The repeal of the failed system went into effect on October 1, 2015, and the state legislation went so far as to authorize the state police to sell off the extensive collection of cases to a scrap metal dealer.
According to the article, “New York followed Maryland’s lead and created a similar database, but that state pulled funding for the project in 2012 when it, too, had no success.”
‘If there was any evidence whatsoever — any evidence — that this was helpful in solving crimes, we wouldn’t have touched it,’ [MD Senator] Zirkin said. ‘The police came in and said it was useless. No one contradicted that.’
Good riddance to yet another wasteful and inefficient government program that did nothing positive for anyone, but threw away millions of taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars.