The PJ Tatler

Maryland Scraps 'Gun Fingerprint' Database as Complete Failure

Another dumb idea bites the dust:

Millions of dollars later, Maryland has officially decided that its 15-year effort to store and catalog the “fingerprints” of thousands of handguns was a failure. 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.”

Actually, no they don’t. Lawful gun owners, who buy their firearms in federally licensed shops, generally don’t commit crimes. Bad guys — who steal them or buy them on the black market — do.

The database “was a waste,” said Frank Sloane, owner of Pasadena Gun & Pawn in Anne Arundel County. “There’s things that they could have done that would have made sense. This didn’t make any sense.”

In a old fallout shelter beneath Maryland State Police headquarters in Pikesville, the state has amassed more than 300,000 bullet casings, one from each new handgun sold here since the law took effect. They fill three cavernous rooms secured by a common combination lock. Each casing was meticulously stamped with a bar code, sealed in its own envelope and filed in boxes stacked from floor to ceiling. Forensic scientists photographed the casings in hopes the system would someday identify the owner of a gun fired at a crime scene. The system cost an estimated $5 million to set up and operate over the years.

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. The ballistic fingerprinting law was repealed effective Oct. 1, ending the requirement that spent casings be sent in. The General Assembly, in repealing the law, authorized the state police to sell off its inventory for scrap.

Read the whole thing to see the stupidity of this fruitless exercise in taxpayer-funded action. Poorly conceived, incompetently administered and suffering from a complete lack of understanding of human nature, the Maryland “database” is a testimonial to the wasteful, unconstitutional malevolence of the Leftist project.