George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight | Bullet Control? Why Firearm Tracking Technology Is Being Fought In The U.S.


Sundays 8pm to 11pm on Radio 2

New Episodes at CBC Music

New Episodes at CBC Music

Need more Strombo Show? Head over to our page on CBC Music for new episodes, playlists and video extras.

CBC Music Past Shows



News Promo
Bullet Control? Why Firearm Tracking Technology Is Being Fought In The U.S.
June 13, 2012
submit to reddit

In the U.S., a new technology that could make it easier to identify guns used in criminal activities by stamping a numeric code on bullets is being met with resistance.

Some states want to introduce legislation that will require all new guns to include microstamping technology, which uses lasers to stamp a unique numeric code on a gun's firing pin so that the code is imprinted on each shell casing from that weapon. The legislation is being considered in New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, Wisconsin and Illinois. According to the New York Times, though, the National Rifle Association and gun industry representatives are fighting to prevent the technology from becoming a legal requirement.

Opponents of the technology say it is ineffective and cost prohibitive, and that it will unfairly focus on legal gun owners when most crimes are committed with illegal guns. One gun maker, The Remington Arms Company, has threatened to pull all their business out of New York if the State signs a micorstamping bill into law.

In California, meanwhile, a gun rights group is paying to keep patents held by the developer alive so that the law can't take effect (as long as the tech is patented, it can't be mandated by the government). Todd Lizotte is the engineer who invented the technology in the 1990s. He says he wants the patents to lapse and the tech to become public domain.

Lawrence Keane, senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the gun industry's trade group, says that microstamping is not reliable, and the Foundation released a statement estimating that microstamping would raise the cost of each gun by "well over $200". Advocates say the cost would be more like $12, which is also the cost cap imposed in the New York Assembly bill.

A 2008 study conducted on the tech at the University of California, Davis found that microstamping technology is feasible, but did not work equally well for all guns and ammunition. The study's authors suggested that a larger study of about 3,000 firing pins would allow a more "real world" look at how the technology would work in the field.

The proposed microstamping law, which hasn't been discussed by the Canadian government to date, is creating serious debate in various states, and it reminded us of another proposal for gun control, this one a little tongue-in-cheek. Comedian Chris Rock recommends "bullet control". Check out his take below:

Chris Rock on Gun Control (NSFW Language)

Related stories on

The State Gun of Arizona


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Submission Policy

Note: The CBC does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that comments are moderated and published according to our submission guidelines.