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Blocking Gun Laws With Patents 1165

Posted by Soulskill
from the patent-attorneys-are-mightier-than-the-sword dept.
New submitter robkeeney writes "Legislators in several states are working on laws that would require certain gun manufacturers to implement 'microstamping' to help law enforcement solve gun crimes. 'Lasers engrave a unique microscopic numeric code on the tip of a gun’s firing pin and breech face. When the gun is fired, the pressure transfers markings to the shell casing and the primer. By reading the code imprinted on casings found at a crime scene, police officers can identify the gun and track it to the purchaser, even when the weapon is not recovered.' As with any gun-related legislation, many people oppose these new laws. In California, a law passed in 2007 requires that when microstamping (which is easily defeat-able) is no longer patent encumbered, all new guns in CA must use it. To fight it, an organization called the Calguns Foundation paid a fee to extend the patent in order to prevent the law from going into effect."
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Blocking Gun Laws With Patents

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  • Damn! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @06:05PM (#40315349)

    Luckily I reload all shots myself that I use in crimes.
    Additionally I use revolver or if I use a pistol, I use a brass catcher.
    So dear murderers, get replacement firing pins now, before you have to order them in Canada.

    • Re:Damn! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @06:13PM (#40315435)

      So dear murderers, get replacement firing pins now, before you have to order them in Canada.

      I just pick up brass at the police range and reload it when I murder people.

      No need for extra firing pins, though; a bit of sandpaper is all that is needed to remove the microstamping. But that would be illegal, and we all know criminals wouldn't dare break the law before they go out to murder someone.

      I don't believe the lawmakers could really be this retarded; there has to be some other reason they're pushing for this law (perhaps just general harassment of gun owners?).

      • Re:Damn! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by nschubach (922175) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @06:39PM (#40315765) Journal

        (perhaps just general harassment of gun owners?)

        That's my vote. Make it annoying to carry (it already pretty much is) and law abiding citizens will just not do it.

        • Re:Damn! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by jhoegl (638955) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @07:45PM (#40316525)
          Actually, they are trying to catch stupid criminals, not ALL criminals.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by PopeRatzo (965947)

          Make it annoying to carry (it already pretty much is) and law abiding citizens will just not do it.

          "Annoying"? Owning and carrying a gun is a lot less "annoying" than driving a car or buying an iPhone or getting your insurance company to pay for minor surgery.

          Anybody who whines about filling out a form and paying a $10 fee to own a gun does not have sufficient equanimity to carry a deadly weapon, IMO. Fuck them.

          As a gun owner for 41 years and carrier of an Illinois FOID card since the early 1980s, I vote

          • Re:Damn! (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @11:40PM (#40318645)

            I got my first gun back when most Americans, and most conservative Americans, rightly believed that the Second Amendment was not about personal gun-toting at all

            Actually, if you were at all familiar with contents of The Federalist Papers and the debates around the penning of the Bill of Rights, you'd know that the 2nd Amendment is about personal, individual keeping and bearing of arms. You are correct that for a number of years in the late 20th century it was popular to pretend otherwise, but that belief was not then, nor was it ever, true.

          • Re:Damn! (Score:4, Informative)

            by couchslug (175151) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @12:05AM (#40318875)

            "I got my first gun back when most Americans, and most conservative Americans, rightly believed that the Second Amendment was not about personal gun-toting at all."

            Constitutional scholars have disposed of your asserted conclusion.

            http://www.guncite.com/journals/reycrit.html [guncite.com]

            • Re:Damn! (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Theaetetus (590071) <theaetetus,slashdot&gmail,com> on Thursday June 14, 2012 @09:47AM (#40321901) Homepage Journal

              "I got my first gun back when most Americans, and most conservative Americans, rightly believed that the Second Amendment was not about personal gun-toting at all."

              Constitutional scholars have disposed of your asserted conclusion.

              http://www.guncite.com/journals/reycrit.html [guncite.com]

              Constitutional scholars have done research studies in the 1970s identifying that only a minority of Americans believed the Second Amendment was about bearing arms as part of a militia? Because that's all he asserted.

              Constitutional scholars may have indicated an error in those beliefs, but your linked article says nothing about percentage of the population. Furthermore, your linked article makes a leap to an unsupported conclusion: that the second amendment guarantees a right to self-defense against criminals. The article provides plenty of citations - which I agree with - that the 2nd Amendment is about preventing the government from rounding up arms to prevent a rebellion, as the British government was doing in the pre-Revolutionary era. However, the 2nd Amendment does not guarantee a right to use those weapons. Obviously, in fact, using them against the government would be an act of treason, just as the Revolution itself was treason, and thus barred by the Constitution.

              No, as your cited article correctly notes, the 2nd Amendment is about the right of the people to keep arms as a deterrent to a tyrannical government. It says nothing about using them, or using them against criminals. The latter right is more properly found in the 5th Amendment.

        • Re:Damn! (Score:5, Informative)

          by 1u3hr (530656) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @12:12AM (#40318923)

          That's my vote. Make it annoying to carry (it already pretty much is) and law abiding citizens will just not do it.

          Okay, just how is having a microscopic pattern on a fining pin "annoying" to the end user? He won't know or care, unless he kills someone.

      • Even better - pick up brass from any sporting/shooting event. Be sure to reload using cartridges from three different widely-separated gun ranges.

        Good luck with that.

        The firing pin? Anyone with even a half-assed mechanical shop and a small metal lathe can make new pins by the dozen: "Oh, sorry Ossifer, my pin broke and this was cheaper."

        Besides... barrel rifling already makes a fingerprint-like marking on the shell/slug/bullet, and that's going to be a hell of a lot more useful in identifying the gun it was

        • Just a thought:
          Removing the microstamping is going to be illegal (if it already isn't).
          It would follow that all replacement pins would be required to be microstamped (and you couldn't make your own).
          how many rounds through a gun before the microstamp is occluded? (either by wear down, or but material filling the grooves).
          Simply emulate that amount of wear for plausible deniability.
          -nB

        • Re:Damn! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by JimCanuck (2474366) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @07:46PM (#40316535)

          Besides... barrel rifling already makes a fingerprint-like marking on the shell/slug/bullet, and that's going to be a hell of a lot more useful in identifying the gun it was shot from than any other method thought up so far...

          Only in TV shows and movies, fact is most handgun and rifle barrels today are mass produced on hammer forging equipment on a mandrel which makes all of them virtually the exact same on a run of tends of thousands of barrels. You can narrow down your suspect list using it, you can even match similar makes and models, but you'll never be able to prove it came out of the gun with serial number #24953 or #24954 or even #25953 for that matter.

        • Re:Damn! (Score:4, Funny)

          by X0563511 (793323) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @07:58PM (#40316687) Homepage Journal

          "Well, sir, it looks like there were actually 17 shooters, and each one only fired one shot."

      • Re:Damn! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Rostin (691447) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @06:57PM (#40315975)
        Harassment is probably part of it -- of not only gun owners, but gun manufacturers. The cost of microstamping guns is expected to be small, but it's not 0, and anything above 0 will probably lead to an incremental reduction in the number of guns sold. Another reason is that it's a standard tactic of moral crusaders of all kinds to chip away at rights that they don't have the support to do away with all at once. It's progress, and you know what they say about boiling frogs. Also, never far from the thoughts of any politician is the question: "How can I get elected again?" Whether this legislation would actually do any real good (by reducing gun crime, for example), it will strike a lot of people as "reasonable", so that the next time an election rolls around, its supporters can paint their opponents as radicals who were unwilling to support "reasonable" gun control measures. Also, it could earn a nice campaign contribution from the Brady campaign or whoever for being a good gun grabber. One final benefit I can imagine is that it's a way of using state money to waste the resources of anti-gun control groups who have undoubtedly tried to sue this law out of existence.
        • Re:Damn! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Omestes (471991) <omestes@gmail.CURIEcom minus physicist> on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @08:10PM (#40316835) Homepage Journal

          The cost of microstamping guns is expected to be small, but it's not 0, and anything above 0 will probably lead to an incremental reduction in the number of guns sold.

          Knowing most of the gun collectors I know, not-0 would would have to be pretty significant to effect their hobby. It could be an issue, though, I doubt very much it is some intentional conspiracy to hurt gun manufacturers or gun sales. If it raises percent, then sure, get mad about it, if not, live with it, we do for every other damn product in the world.

          . Another reason is that it's a standard tactic of moral crusaders of all kinds to chip away at rights that they don't have the support to do away with all at once.

          What rights are being chipped away here? You still run around bearing your arms to your hearts content.

          ...can paint their opponents as radicals who were unwilling to support "reasonable" gun control measures.

          Do you live in the same America as I do? Anyone ever suggesting that we shouldn't put guns in Crackerjack boxes is shouted down these days. Hell, if I own a place of business, and decide that your not allowed to carry on my property, I'm now somehow trying to destroy the Second Amendment, blah blah. With guns, and everything else, we've thrown all moderation to the wind, and let the extremists win.

          Which, coincidentally, is why this is the first time I've been on Slashdot in awhile, and thanks to this topic, it might be the last for awhile. I'm so goddamn sick of politics. I used to love them, but now there is no point. Everyone is 100% correct, and if anyone disagrees with them (or doesn't give them and there golden little opinion due reverence) they are a moron. No one is ever going to discuss anything, because obviously they are 100% right, and everyone else is 100% wrong.

          Perhaps I'm just getting old.

        • Re:Damn! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by phoomp (1098855) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @08:40PM (#40317177)

          a standard tactic of moral crusaders of all kinds to chip away at rights that they don't have the support to do away with all at once.

          Where does it say "the right to bear arms in a way that can't be traced"?

      • Re:Damn! (Score:5, Informative)

        by furball (2853) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @07:59PM (#40316697) Journal

        > I just pick up brass at the police range and reload it when I murder people.

        The stamping is going to be on the primer. If you're reloading, you'll end up popping the old primer out anyway.

      • Re:Damn! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Grayhand (2610049) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @12:24AM (#40319013)
        Harassment is the whole point. Gun owners especially in California are dealing with the death of a thousand cuts. The anti gun groups couldn't win on Constitutional grounds so they are trying to regulate guns to death. When anti gun people talk about "reasonable gun laws" they are talking about laws that make it nearly impossible to own guns. California has had unreasonable gun laws for 20 years or more and it has had no affect on crime. States and cities with the most radical gun laws tend to have the most gun violence so simply trying to legislate them away isn't working. I'm always angered by the fact they don't consult people that know guns to come up with effective safe guards. They don't want effective laws allowing gun ownership because the end game is to get rid of guns and effective laws take away their argument for an outright ban. My favorite silly ban was the ban in California on 50 calibre rifles. It was hailed as a major success. No one bothered to point out that no crime had even been committed by one in the state and the only ones that were affected were a tiny number of long range shooters. No one is going to rob a bank with a 30lb+ rifle with enough recoil to dislocate your shoulder. Not to mention being heard from several miles away when you discharge it bringing every cop in the city. They use pocket 9mm pistols or at the most shotguns. Notice no laws target shotguns? Rich people bird hunt and shoot skeet so they don't go near shotguns. They just want to take them away from regular people.
    • by Dunbal (464142) *
      Not only that but remember, criminals always buy and register their guns at the gunshop.
      • Re:Damn! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by icebraining (1313345) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @08:18PM (#40316929) Homepage

        Criminals as in gang member, don't. Criminals as in drunken wife beater who one day shoots his wife do.

        The flaw in gun owners is that they see the world in blank and white, with the law-abiding beacons of righteousness on one side and the tattoo ridden coke pushing gang bangers on the other.

        In reality, there's plenty of Joes just one more drink away from becoming news for the worst reasons.

  • by Cederic (9623) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @06:09PM (#40315391) Journal

    So... file the firing pin?
    Buy a gun from outside CA and bring it in?
    Laser engrave some other sod's ID?
    Hold a firing pin party?

    It sounds like a horrendous waste of time and money, whether you want gun control or not. Ineffective legislation is the worse of all outcomes.

    • Components of a gun aren't restricted. For some guns, that can be nearly all of them. Like an AR-15 the only part that is the actual "gun" is the lower receiver. Everything else, you can mail order. Gun laws are a very strange mix of shit like that, particularly since some of the regulations were implemented as tax regulations to try and get around any second amendment concerns.

      At any rate, firing pins are cheap and easy to order. They are just literally little metal pins. They are also something that is pr

      • by X0563511 (793323)

        We're also ignoring a very interesting question: how exactly would they get this thing to survive more than a handful of shots?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @06:28PM (#40315641)

      The very idea of microstamping was never intended to assist law enforcement. It was specifically intended to target lawful gun owners to cause them harassment and extra expense and to better "track the law-abiding citizenry". I've been employed with a municipal police department for over 16 years, in a city that has more than its fair share of shootings and even random "gunfire in the night". Our forensics team has zero problems identifying shell casings using existing stereo microscopy technology to match it to a gun that fired the cartridge, but 99 times out of 100 there's no need to ever do that because regular ordinary police detective work that already solves the gun crimes is well established and quite effective. In the case of drive-by shootings in the gang areas of town, by the time the gunshots call is made to 911, the gang detectives already know who the culprits are and are ready to round them up because... well, these cops know their "clientele" pretty well from past repeat offenses.

    • While I agree, we have to remember that criminals are not necessarily the smartest people. The know the dangerous end of a gun and that's it. While they might be smart enough to ask whether or not firing pin had been filed, it's not like they have the knowledge or equipment to actually verify it when purchasing it.

      It's easy to get around and is certainly not a panacea. But it would probably help solve some crimes.

  • by sycodon (149926) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @06:09PM (#40315397)

    All responsible gun owners do.

  • Lame Tech (Score:4, Insightful)

    by iinventstuff (1888700) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @06:12PM (#40315419)
    So, a well-planned criminal just needs to hang out at the local shooting range and collect someone else's brass casings before they commit a crime. After they commit their crime, they collect their own shells, and toss out the other person's shells. When police show up, there is a positive ID on the discarded casings, because of the #. This was a good idea, but it is so very easily spoofed because it's non-deterministic and can put innocent people at risk. I'd pass...
    • Re:Lame Tech (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mbstone (457308) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @06:22PM (#40315571)

      Also get some hair or other random DNA from the floor of the local barber shop, nail parlor, etc.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @06:12PM (#40315423)

    Apparently the people making laws are about as proficient with firearms as they are with technology.

  • by bitt3n (941736) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @06:14PM (#40315445)

    "Ok Vito, we're going to need you to ice Ricky Peanuts tonight. Shoot him full of holes, then chop up the body and feed it to your pet alligator. Then grind up the alligator, dissolve him in acid, and turn it into smoothies at your ice cream parlor. Then burn down the ice cream parlor with everyone inside. And don't forget to file the code off your gun."

    "File off the code? Madone! That's illegal!"

  • Guns (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @06:14PM (#40315459)

    The problem with guns is the technology to kill people is very primitive and simple. We've been killing each other since before we could read and write. Guns are nothing more than a device for initiating a controlled rapid exothermic reaction resulting in a propulsive force to a projectile.

    Most people have the necessary tools and items required to manufacture a simple gun in their garages, propellant included. So even in the ideal case where criminals don't just file off the microprinting in a few well-placed strokes, and in this magical world every bullet fired has a 1:1 parity with a registered gun owner, the problem isn't any closer to being solved... there's still hundreds of other ways to murder people, either with guns, or gun-like devices, or even without guns. Hell, the government routinely says tazers, water cannons, and microwaving protesters is "safe", yet people still somehow wind up just as dead.

    Expecting violent criminals to care about legislation like this is like expecting a terrorist to care his car bomb is taking up two parking spaces.

  • LOL (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @06:16PM (#40315493)

    Ok, microstamp it. Costs to manufacturer to tool up to do that, thousands.
    2 dollar file at the local Ace hardware store, file it down...defeat it, PRICELESS.

    Hey idiots...instead of making NEW laws for firearms, how about ENFORCING the current ones?
    IE: Fast & Furious?

  • by Derekloffin (741455) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @06:17PM (#40315511)
    Well hell, can't use that then. We all know that criminals are all well planned geniuses that think of every contingency and will counter every forensic method used to find them. I mean, seriously, what are they thinking.
    • It massively fails the cost benefit analysis test. Is that good enough for you?

      It imposes significant costs and annoyances on every single legal gun owner, while only catching a few of the dumb criminals.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @06:19PM (#40315531)

    Not only can you just file/sandpaper the tip of the firing pin, I personally know a forensic scientist who did a Master's Thesis on this very subject, and in his research and testing, he found that the serial numbers wear down enough in just a few shots that they aren't readable on the primers any more. Combine that with widely varying degrees of hardness of different brands of primers (some take a good print, some don't), and it's a totally unreliable way identify which firearm shot the round. The people who push this technology in the political arena hope to make tons of money on it (they own the businesses that make the products). The tech sounds good in theory, but in practice, it simply doesn't work.

    • Firing pins hit HARD, they have to to work. Heck the way I test to make sure a firearm is fully operational after a detail strip and reassembly is to put a pencil in the barrel and pull the trigger. The firing pin will launch it out from the force of the hit.

      While firing pins are made of tough material, steel usually but you can get them in titanium, I can't imagine micro features will stand up well to repeated impacts like that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @06:30PM (#40315669)

    This is just one more attempt to make law abiding citizens criminals because they exercise a right the government thinks they shouldn't have. Criminals will ignore this law and deface their illegal guns if they have this. However, it will soon become illegal to have your firing pin defaced, and with how much som people legally shoot it will become defaced through use. Once a cop decides he doesn't like you, searches your car without a warrant, finds the gun and suspect its illegal, the law abiding citizen is now a criminal.

    This is merely an attempt to make those who legally exercise their second amendment rights criminals.

  • Gun Control = DRM (Score:5, Insightful)

    by johofnovi (1667811) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @06:31PM (#40315679)
    In terms most /. readers can understand, Gun control has very similar problems to DRM. It solves a minute percentage of the problem, affects almost none of the people it was intended to (criminals/pirates) and serves only to inconvenience the law abiding citizen. Passing gun control legislation has a nice "feel good" factor, ie "Do it for the children!", but in fact does squat to actually diminish any gun related crime at all. I give you the infamous "Crime Bill" passed in the 90's as exhibit A.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Falconhell (1289630)

      In terms even US citizens can understand, gun control works great here in .au, I have never once seen a gun used or even carried outside a range. I know its hard for you overcompensating types to understand but that is the reality. A quick look at the stats for gun deaths in both countries makes this starkly clear. Americans always seem to be on violent revenge fantasy trips, and easy access to guns makes this common.

  • by reboot246 (623534) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @07:08PM (#40316093) Homepage
    When are we going to get tired of the shit coming out of California and kick their asses out of the union?

    Is everybody in that godforsaken state bat-shit crazy?
  • Fatality rates (Score:5, Informative)

    by wonderboss (952111) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @08:53PM (#40317327)

    In 2009 there were 33,808 deaths in the US from auto accidents.
    In 2009 there were 31,347 deaths in the US from firearms.

    The firearm deaths include
    homicides 11,493
    suicides 18,735
    legal intervention 333 (gotta love the CDC's terminology).
    unintentional 554 (I guess that's CDC speak for accidental).

    I couldn't find data on the leading cause of fatal car accidents, but
    for all car accidents the leading causes are:
    1. Distracted Driving
    2. Speeding
    3. Drunk Driving
    4. Reckless Driving
    5. Rain
    6. Running Red Lights
    7. Running Stop Signs (seems like 6&7 should be combined)
    8. Teenage Drivers
    The list goes on.

    Number one cause of distracted driving?
    Nope.
    Kids in the car.

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