CoBIS and NY – Some questions

CoBIS

Combined Ballistic Identification System

A system where the shell casing of a bullet, (or brass) from a fired round is supplied by a gun manufacturer in an approved container shipped with a new handgun that is shipped to the NY State Police when the gun is sold or if the new handgun is shipped to the Federal Firearms License holder, the FFL takes the gun to the State Police Lab to be test fired and the lab keeps the shell casing and the fired bullet.

  • The shell casing is scanned into a computer data base to be compared against shell casing recovered from a crime location.
  • This program has has NO success in NY while costing $4,000,000 to start and an estimated $4,000,000 a year to maintain or an average cost of about $200 per legal gun.
  • CoBIS only collects information from legal guns that are new and have not been linked to a crime and the size of the data base in New York alone is in 10s of thousands of guns and will, within the first 3 years included almost 66,000 data files with almost 22,000 new handguns being added each year. (Source)

Questions:

  1. This program is been around for 8 years and has had no success… so why is it still sucking up millions of tax payers money?
  2. Does the shell casing always has to be matched to striations (marks from the guns rifling) on a bullet found lodged in something at the scene, and both of those tied back to the gun?  Or is it considered enough evidence if just two out of three are available?
  3. Why would someone that is legally buying a gun want to take the risk of being in a database such as CoBIS?
  4. Should we all take collecting our own brass at the range a lot more seriously if systems like this are going to be used to assign guilt?
  5. Doesn’t the firing pin, and barrel rifling slightly change over time with normal wear?  How is this taken into account?
  6. We know that criminals can pick up their casings at a scene, modify the rifling of the gun, modify the firing pin to produce a different imprint.  So why have a costly system that is rendered useless if even one of those happens?
  7. Since New York isn’t an impenetrable fortress, where nothing can get in or out. What use is this database if a criminal can just bring in a gun from another state to commit a crime?

Hat Tip: Say Uncle

4 COMMENTS

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Gene January 12, 2010 at 06:42 pm

… or just use a revolver.

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Admin (Mike) January 13, 2010 at 02:14 am

Good point Gene. To be honest I completely overlooked that when I was thinking about the topic.

Reply

Krazmo January 17, 2010 at 07:08 am

Solving crimes isn’t the point. Making firearms more expensive and difficult to obtain is the point.

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