This article appeared in the Los Angeles Daily News. Considering the onerous restrictions the PRK places on gun manufacturers and gun owners, I thought this article was very revealing.
Gun database questioned
By Matt Apuzzo, The Associated Press
Article Last Updated: 03/05/2008 09:54:03 PM PST
WASHINGTON - When police recover bullets from a crime scene, they can use a federal database to tell whether the same gun was used in a shooting somewhere else. Wouldn't a file of millions of bullet "fingerprints" from new guns be even better?
No, scientists said Wednesday.
The current system works pretty well. Scan in a bullet's markings, and if there's a match the computer will find it 75 percent to 95 percent of the time. So for years, many lawmakers and gun control advocates have wanted all guns, not just those used in crimes, to be test-fired and fingerprinted before being sold.
After all, wouldn't it be great if police could just run a bullet through the computer system and instantly identify the gun that fired it?
"Ballistics testing is only as useful as the number of images in the database," Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., said while pushing for a nationwide database in 2002.
Actually, it's just the opposite. A team of scientists said Wednesday that such a database would be so big and unwieldy, it would be too unreliable to help solve crimes. That's because a 75 percent to 95 percent success rate is fine when the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives searches only about 100,000 guns used in crimes, but it's far too high to work when millions of guns are added.
"It's a scale problem," said John Rolph, chairman of the National Research Council committee that completed the study. "If we're talking about using this in criminal investigations, we've got to be able to get something that's practically useful."
Under the current National Integrated Ballistic Information Network system, the computer might find 10 possible matches for a single bullet, and there's a good chance one of them will be confirmed. If more than 1 million new guns are added every year, the same system might produce hundreds of possible matches - far too many for an investigator to review by hand.