Questions & Answers
Will implementation of the ACS technology violate the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution or be considered a “backdoor” gun registration scheme?
No. State and federal legislative proposals to implement ACS would be based upon the existing firearm dealer licensing and gun tracing statutes enacted by Congress in 1968. The United States Supreme Court has, on numerous occasions, affirmed the constitutionality of the licensing and tracing provisions of the current federal law.
Moreover, even the National Rifle Association supports the privacy protections contained in federal gun tracing regulations.
Legislation could be carefully drafted to insure that any information acquired under an ACS program could not be used to single out gun owners or function as a gun registration scheme. When a bullet or cartridge case is recovered at a crime scene, only duly authorized law enforcement agencies would have access to ACS bullet coding information. The ACS “trace” would be completed using the same proven methods used by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies today in conducting crime gun traces. Only minimal personal identifying information is necessary to make ACS technology work (less personal information than is disclosed under normal circumstances by a person making a purchase by credit card or check).
Not easily. It would require considerable skill and knowledge for a criminal to circumvent the ACS technology. A person with the right knowledge, skill and equipment could cast and load their own ammunition. Similarly, a person could disassemble a coded bullet, file off the ACS codes and reassemble the component parts. However, criminals are not known for their advance planning skills. As an example, fingerprint technology is easy to defeat simply by wearing gloves, but that does not mean the police no longer dust for fingerprints at crime scenes. Most criminals don’t wear gloves; similarly most will not take the time nor do they have the knowledge or equipment to defeat ACS.
Currently, most ammunition manufacturers use bar coding to track ammunition inventories. By incorporating ACS data in the bar code, manufacturers will easily be able to identify and track ammunition sales. Using simple and inexpensive bar code scanning equipment retailers will not be over burdened recording the necessary tracking information. Estimates reveal that a useful and reliable ammunition tracing system can be economically implemented and maintained.
Not only will ACS technology assist the law enforcement community in the investigation of serious firearm related crime, but ACS can prove to be a valuable tool in crime gun reduction strategies where early intervention may actually prevent more serious crime.
Consider the following, a drive by shooting that does not result in injuries or deaths yet bullets and shell casings are left behind; or firearm vandalism where property may be destroyed or damaged. ACS would prove to be a very useful and effective tool in preventing future crimes by apprehending those individuals responsible before a more serious crime is committed.
All too often, federal and state fish and game investigators discover disturbing evidence of illegal poaching. The evidence, most often, is only the carcass of a rare or endangered animal or bird. By using ACS to trace recovered ballistic evidence, fish and game authorities will be able to make serious headway in preventing future violations.
Homeland security is not just a national concern but has now become a top priority of our state and local authorities. ACS technology could prove to be a valuable tool in tracing connections between potential terrorists and their suppliers.
ACS technology does not require any special training or equipment for law enforcement to use other than a good magnifying glass. Recovery of the bullet code does not require any special training or skills, and it is not subjective. There is no requirement to purchase expensive computer imaging equipment, and data can be stored using current data storage methods. ACS information obtained by law enforcement will be up to date and readily useful.
Ballistic fingerprinting technology is expensive to implement and maintain. Maryland spent $1.8 million just to acquire the hardware necessary for the Maryland system, while New York spent even more. Estimates for California, which has a much larger firearm market than Maryland and New York were cost prohibitive.
Special skill and training is required to interpret ballistic signatures left on fired bullets and cartridge cases. Today, only a relatively small crime gun database of ballistic images exists. Millions of reference samples of expended bullets and cartridge cases would have to be imaged stored and maintained at government expense. Experts question the value to law enforcement of expending millions of tax dollars on this promising but unproven technology.
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