Maryland’s Bullet ID Adventure – A Total Flop


Maryland decided to create a database of all the bullet “fingerprints” of every gun sold in the state from 2000 to the present. So for every gun sold, manufacturers had to fire a test round and send it to the state for inclusion in the database.  The idea was to stop crime by knowing exactly which gun was involved in a crime. Except that it flopped miserably.

All of the casings for every gun sold since the law went into effect – 300,000 of them -are now on track to be sold as scrap metal. Oh, and $5 million later. The program failed why?

maryland's bullet ID

Shell Casings

A messed up system – Maryland’s bullet ID law

The Baltimore Sun reported,

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.

The science behind the idea is valid. The miniscule scratches on each shell casing are unique to each gun. The problem with their idea was that their technology was shoddy. By 2007, the state stopped taking photographs of the casings. And the computer software that was supposed to match them often spit out hundreds of “matching” samples, which didn’t help.

Interestingly, New York tried to follow Maryland’s lead in the idea, but pulled funding on the program in 2012 because it was a failure. Maryland officially repealed their program on October 1. The fact that the older the database gets, the more likely the guns have fallen into the hand of criminals is also a factor. Finding the original gun becomes irrelevant. The MSP have not yet come up with a plan to sell the scrap metal.

Oh, and by the way, the program never solved even ONE crime in 15 years. Good record, huh?