Combined Ballistic Identification System and Microstamping dead, could resurface

Albany — Two controversial gun ballistics programs died in the state Legislature in late March, but there was a possibility that one could resurface later this year.

The much-maligned CoBIS program was cut out of the state budget for 2012-13, and the Legislature also did not include any money in the budget for a “microstamping” program that anti-gun groups have sought in recent years.

But while there is no money for microstamping in the next budget, that lack of funding doesn’t necessarily mean the legislation that would enact the program was dead, said Tom King, president of the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association.

The Legislature could still pass the bill this year and defer its start until next year when funding is set aside, he said.

“The bill is still there,” King said. “They could still pass it. I don’t think it’s going to pass the Senate this year, but it’s still there.”

The demise of CoBIS – Combined Ballistic Identification System – was long awaited by critics who questioned the value of the program, which allowed state police to test fire and maintain a database of shell casings for matching those found at crime scenes.

Nearly $10 million was spent on the program over the last 10 years, but not a single crime was solved as a result of it.

Microstamping would force gun manufacturers to put small serial numbers on firing pins so that the casings they have contact with can be identified, but critics say it’s too expensive for gun makers and could easily be evaded by criminals.

The demise of the two ballistics programs was a victory for Second Amendment proponents, and Stephen Aldstadt, president of Shooters Committee on Political Education-New York said the legislative session was shaping up nicely for gun owners in New York.

He said he did not believe there was sufficient support for microstamping to pass the Senate this session, though Democratic victories in the Senate in November could change that.

“If the Republicans lose the Senate, anything can happen,” Aldstadt said.

Still, Aldstadt and King said some of the more troublesome bills for gun owners – such as S2762/A4488a, which would expand the list of crimes classified as “serious offenses” that could result in a person losing their right to possess a firearm – did not seem to have much support in early April.

Another bill that was being watched closely was one designed to toughen rules for gun shows (S4349), but King said that appeared to be lacking the necessary support this year as well.

“I don’t see anything passing this year that is a serious threat to gun owners,” Aldstadt said.

King said he believed a bill that would allow big game hunting with a rifle in Albany County stood a good chance of passing.

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