“Fingerprinting” Registry cost taxpayers untold millions

The state of Maryland, which has some of the most stringent gun laws in the US, has scrapped a scheme it has been operating for fifteen years allowing police to keep a gun tracking database, because it has failed to contribute anything to a single criminal case.


The system worked by storing photographs of spent casings fired by every gun sold in the state, which manufacturers were mandated to provide.

The idea behind the registry is that every firearm leaves unique markings on the casings it fires, creating a “ballistic fingerprint,” thus police would theoretically be able to trace casings found at crime scenes to a specific firearm.

Even if you look beyond the ridiculous notions that most criminals adhere to gun laws and keep registered firearms, the database still never worked, because the software was too poorly designed and implemented.

Police were never able to match up a shell found at a crime scene to a registered gun using the system, NOT ONCE in fifteen years.

Over 300,000 shell casings were collected, photographed, stamped, filed, and added to the system, which was modeled on the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network.

However, cops effectively stopped bothering to photograph casings in 2007, knowing that the practise was practically useless.

The state sued the manufacturer of the system in 2009 for $1.9 million, settling three years later for just $390,000.

The Baltimore Sun reports that the system cost an estimated $5 million in total, leading to politicians finally abolishing it.

“If there was any evidence whatsoever—any evidence—that this was helpful in solving crimes, we wouldn’t have touched it,” state senator Bobby Zirkin (D.), who chairs the committee that looked at the database, told the Baltimore Sun. “The police came in and said it was useless. No one contradicted that.”

Authorities in Maryland continue to push for further gun control, despite already strict laws restricting sales of handguns and semi-automatic weapons.

Last year, the Maryland House of Delegates considered legislation that would allow police to run checks of the state’s gun registry against its criminal database at least twice a year at a cost of $300,000 dollars to create the new system.

Under such legislation, the state would essentially be able to target 110,000 citizens with gun confiscation, with police empowered to enforce door to door visits of illegal gun owners.

The Associated Press reported that “seven new full-time troopers to investigate findings from the new database,” would be hired, “with a cost of more than $1 million a year for salaries and equipment.”