Forums / Political & Legal / Coding Ammunition Info

6 years 2 weeks ago, 8:48 AM

samD

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Coding Ammunition Info

In doing a little poking around and although it looks like most of the legislation was introduced last year or early 08 depending on the state, it looks like it's still in various committees. One link from the website above goes to http://www.seattleweekly.com/2008-03-05/news/three-seattle-guys-want-to-bar-code-bullets.php"> which has the following background on the bill. Click the link above for the full story.

Russ Ford might look like a longhaired, gun-control, hippie type. And in many ways, he is. Ford and his business partners, Steve Mace and John Knickerbocker, have patented a system that uses laser technology to imprint coding on ammunition with the hope of making it easier for cops to track it back to its shooter.

But Ford is not a gun-hating, anti-self-defense (as his opponents call him) activist; he has several guns that were passed down by his father, and once was an avid hunter. Unloading rounds into paper and clay pigeons at a range is still a favorite hobby. "An armed society is a polite society," Ford says, echoing rhetoric favored by Second Amendment devotees.

As a gun lover bent on creating a system for tracking ammunition, Ford is an anomaly in the firearm advocacy world. Says Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Bellevue-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, "I'm sure every gun group in the state is opposed to it."

Ford's partner, Mace, says the idea for coding ammunition originated when the trio heard the story of a police shooting where two officers fired their weapons, but only one hit the suspect. In an investigation of the shooting, both officers were put on leave, since there wasn't an immediate way to determine which one of them had fired the bullet.

"We finally came up with, 'Well, why don't we just put a mark on a bullet to distinguish one from the other,'" Mace says.

Ford adds that they also figured bullets and casings were more likely to be left behind at a crime scene than a gun. With serialized ammunition, whether by the bullet or the box, it would be possible to at least find out who had originally purchased the rounds.

Mace and Ford spent four and a half years and about $200,000 securing the patent for their ammunition tracking system. But once that patent was in place and they had formed a company, the unambiguously named Ammunition Coding System, to market the product, they couldn't find a manufacturer willing to consider stamping their bullets. So they focused their efforts on convincing lawmakers that coded ammunition could be a crucial crime-solving tool.

To this end, Ammunition Coding hired Briahna Taylor, a lobbyist with Gordon, Thomas, Honeywell's Tacoma-based government affairs office. With Taylor's help, they began pushing for ammunition coding legislation on the state level. Taylor quickly launched a Web site, ammunitionaccountability.com, and bills were introduced in 12 states, including Washington.

On Feb. 8, Rep. Al O'Brien, D-Mountlake Terrace, introduced a bill in Olympia that would have required all pistol ammunition manufactured or sold in the state to be coded. Had it passed, the Department of Licensing would have been responsible for creating and maintaining a bullet database. But O'Brien's bill was a legislative long shot, as he introduced it after the cutoff to get a hearing in the Judiciary Committee. Hence, the bill is, for all intents and purposes, dead. (O'Brien did not respond to requests for comment.)

Despite the bill's failure, the fact that it was introduced at all has the Washington State Rifle and Pistol Association nervous. The registered nonprofit, organized under the umbrella of the National Rifle Association, is vehemently opposed to such ballistics coding. The day O'Brien introduced his bill, a post went up on the WSRPA Web site telling members that ballistics coding would increase the cost of ammunition and require a significant expansion of state bureaucracy to track ammunition. "Don't expect it to fade away," the site warns members.

For his part, Ford says the method for marking ammunition is fairly cheap-pennies per bullet. He also points out that marking and tracking individual products is hardly a new phenomenon. Most beer cans, he notes, have a stamp showing where and when they originated, making it possible to track if there's a problem with the contents on the consumer end.

Yet Gottlieb says the problem with ammunition coding is not just the potential increased cost of ammunition or the creation of a database to track sales, but the fact that a company could get a patent and then pursue legislation that, if enacted, would essentially give that company a monopoly on the implementation of that legislation.

Ford counters that the patent system is designed to give inventors a monopoly for a time to offset the costs involved in inventing their product. "Some protection is afforded inventors everywhere that have come up with ideas," he says.

6 years 2 weeks ago, 9:21 AM

LLE

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there are probably many State Senators and State Legislature Reps in Washington State [and many other states], who would be happy to support such legislation, while taking money under the table from the three bullet coding monopolists who will be getting rich.
The so-called system may physically work well, but each state might require a new bureaucracy and new computer system to make it "work" for the LEOs. Lots of $$ for the citizenry to support.

Fly in the ointment. Crooks steal firearms everyday. Whats going to prevent them from stealing and using the stolen coded ammo to cover their tracks?

Too old to fight, Too old to run, guess that's why I carry a gun! "would someone show this asshole the way out of town".[Rabbi Avram Belinski-aka "The Frisco Kid"]
6 years 2 weeks ago, 9:32 AM

Reaper308

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I don't get it

they said they developed this technology after hearing a story where 2 LEO's fired ant hit 1 suspect. They couldn't determine which one shot the round?

Each bullet that is fired has grooves inbeded into it from the rifling on the barrel of the firearm. We can easily tell which bullet or which casing (primer) comes from a certain weapon. This technology has been around for decades.

"Proelium Comminus Auctoritate" "Sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel is a muzzle flash."
6 years 2 weeks ago, 9:47 AM

LLE

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a lot more about the flaws in "Ballistic Fingerprinting", if you actually believe what you said in your second paragraph, above, especially the words "easily tell".

Too old to fight, Too old to run, guess that's why I carry a gun! "would someone show this asshole the way out of town".[Rabbi Avram Belinski-aka "The Frisco Kid"]
6 years 2 weeks ago, 9:38 AM

samD

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It appears, Reaper,

that, if the LE's where using the same type weapon ie: Glock, then it is very difficult if not impossible to ID which gun fired the bullet. Just read something on this recently. Most LE use some type of hollow point and lands and groove marks are generally flattened beyond recognition. Extractors and firing pins are mass produced with very little difference in them.
The whole point of the article is that someone is going to make a shit load of money off of this technology, if it is passed.
Again only the criminals will have un-coded ammo or your stolen ammo in their illegal guns. This is total B.S.

6 years 1 week ago, 7:36 AM

Pkato

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When will it ever end???

Patrolman Kato
Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself.
They are the American people's liberty teeth and keystone
under independence. -- George Washington
6 years 1 week ago, 4:07 PM

fordvg

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Rich get richer and the poor get poorer, same old story.

"WAR IS A RACKET, I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street, and for the Bankers." Major-General Smedley Darlington Butler USMC Ret. 2 time Medal of Honor winner.
6 years 1 week ago, 7:26 PM

jack010203

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I dont see the problem they are tring to fix. If both cops shot, both intended to hit, what difference does it make that only one hit the criminal? All this ammo coding would have done is tell the department which officer needs more range time.

when anyone pulls the trigger they have to assume they are going to kill the person they are shooting at.

"The beauty of the second amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it." -Thomas Jefferson

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