NJ considers ‘microstamping’ requirement for all new guns
TRENTON – Among the gun-control measures backed by Gov. Phil Murphy that have been stuck in the Legislature is one requiring microstamping technology in new handguns sold in the New Jersey, making it easier for police to track bullets back to the gun that shot them.
State officials and activists, including acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin, visited a Newark Police Department gun range Tuesday for a demonstration of the technology, which was first invented nearly 30 years but hasn’t caught on – or perhaps, hasn’t been allowed to catch on.
Christian Heyne, vice president of public policy for Brady: United Against Gun Violence, said the crime-solving technology has been ready for use for over a decade and that the only obstacle to its adoption is the gun industry.
“We have the technology. We have the ability,” Heyne said. “We simply need the courage to put things like this in place so that we can prevent tragedies from happening.”
Todd Lizotte, the technology’s co-inventor, who is president and chief executive officer of Tac Labs, said lasers are used to put markings on a gun’s firing pin or breech face, which then stamps that eight-digit code onto a bullet casing when a gun is fired. He likened it to a license plate.
“And even a partial code is like a partial license plate,” Lizotte said. “It can still identify the firearm.”
The technology was invented in 1993. Lizotte said he’s a conservative gun owner from New Hampshire and has no problem with police being able to target gun traffickers, even in cases where the crime gun itself isn’t recovered at the scene.
Platkin said microstamping is like etching a VIN on a car’s windows to deter theft and doesn’t understand the opposition.
“I recognize Second Amendment rights. Nobody here is denying that,” Platkin said. “You don’t have a Second Amendment right to shoot someone and get away with it. You don’t have a Second Amendment right to obstruct law enforcement investigations.”
Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz, D-Essex, said the debate isn’t about equipment, it’s about human lives. She said it’s worth it even if not all guns used in the state are microstamped.
“Some people will argue: But it’s not going to do enough,” Ruiz said. “To me, if it saves one life, it’s totally worth it.”
Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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