A new gun identification technology was the subject of a hearing at the state Capitol Tuesday. It’s called microstamping, and allows semiautomatic handguns to be traced from their spent shell casings.
Advocates for the technology tout it as a crime solving tool, but James Fendry, a former Milwaukee police officer and the director of Wisconsin Pro-Gun Movement, is a skeptic. “You go to the cops on the street, and you talk to them, and in this case you have to go to the cops in rough areas, and they’ll tell you what I’m telling you: it doesn’t make a difference them (criminals).” Fendry told members of a state Senate committee. “No matter what kind of laws we have, it’s not going to have any impact.”
But William Morales, another former Milwaukee officer, thinks microstamping could be useful at “shots fired” incidents. “From a law enforcement perspective, from a police officer perspective, from a cops on the street perspective, I want the tools in the coppers hands to find the shooters,” said Morales, who’s now with the city’s Office of Violence Prevention. Morales also believes microstamping could prove useful in tracking so called straw buyers of semiautomatic handguns used in certain crimes. “Those guns are the ones that have been typically found in these straw purchases. With this technology we would be able to find the first purchaser.”
NRA lobbyist Jordan Austin disputed that, and said it makes more sense toughen criminal penalties on straw purchases, citing a bill from state Representative Scott Gunderson which would make straw purchases a felony. The bill is being offered by state Representative Leon Young -another former Milwaukee police officer – and Senator Spencer Coggs.
Bob Hague (1:10) AUDIO: Bob Hague reports (1:10 MP3)