Maryland “gun fingerprint” database shut down without solving a single case
For gun control advocates, it sure sounded like a great idea. Why not force gun purchasers to fire a round at the police station so that the ballistic “fingerprint” of the firearm could be catalogued? That way, police could find the perpetrator every time a gun was used in a crime. What could go wrong?
Plenty, according to the Baltimore Sun’s Erin Cox. Fifteen years, millions of dollars, and 340,000 shell casings later, Maryland decided last week to scrap the system … after failing to solve one single crime in its existence (via PJ Media):
Since 2000, the state required that gun manufacturers fire every handgun to be sold here and send the spent bullet casing to authorities. The idea was to build a database of “ballistic fingerprints” to help solve future crimes.
But the system — plagued by technological problems — never solved a single case. Now the hundreds of thousands of accumulated casings could be sold for scrap.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed,” said former Gov. Parris N. Glendening, a Democrat whose administration pushed for the database to fulfill a campaign promise. “It’s a little unfortunate, in that logic and common sense suggest that it would be a good crime-fighting tool.”
The amount of money wasted for Maryland taxpayers? Five million dollars, which isn’t the worst boondoggle in recent memory, but it’s bad enough. It would have been worse if the state had actually continued to operate the system for the entire fifteen years, but it gave up over eight years ago without bothering to end the program. Instead, the state legislature finally pulled the plug:
But the computerized system designed to sort and match the images never worked as envisioned. In 2007, the state stopped bothering to take the photographs, though hundreds of thousands more casings kept piling up in the fallout shelter.
And even when the state did operate the system, they didn’t operate it competently:
Worse, the system Maryland bought created images so imprecise that when an investigator submitted a crime scene casing, the database software would sometimes spit out hundreds of matches. The state sued the manufacturer in 2009 for $1.9 million, settling three years later for $390,000.