Buy a gun, leave a fingerprint

Associated Press

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Beginning on Sunday, with every new handgun sold in Maryland, the manufacturer will have to give state police a spent shell casing carrying the weapon’s ballistic fingerprint.

Under the law, the first of its kind in the nation, the unique markings on the casing will be entered into a database. When detectives find a bullet casing at a crime scene, they can go to the computer and instantly identify the gun it came from.

“Countless hours of investigative work can now be eliminated from the process of identifying the crime gun and who may have been in possession of it,” State Police Superintendent David Mitchell said.

A similar New York state law takes effect March 1.

Five months after the Maryland law was signed, questions remain about its effectiveness.

There are no criminal penalties for noncompliance by manufacturers, and state police have told dealers they can continue selling guns even if manufacturers do not pack shell casings with the weapons.

State Police spokesman Maj. Greg Shipley said manufacturers have been told it’s their responsibility to make sure guns sold in Maryland are accompanied by a casing.

Gun owner Jim Purtillo of Silver Spring questioned the value of the law. “It’s about making it harder for people to buy guns,” he said. “Bad guys typically don’t leave shell casings from a revolver at a crime scene.”

Maryland gun dealers have worried that manufacturers or distributors may stop shipping guns into the state. But at least two major manufacturers are making efforts to comply: Smith &Wesson, the nation’s largest maker of handguns, and Beretta USA.

Beretta USA said it will pack shell casings with handguns it knows will be sold in Maryland, but warned that its distributors are scattered throughout the country and guns sent elsewhere could wind up in Maryland.

“If we get an order from Florida, we don’t have any way of knowing that gun is going to Maryland. It will not include the shell casing,” Beretta spokesman Jeff Reh said.

The requirement is part of sweeping new gun legislation in Maryland. Sunday also is the effective date for laws prohibiting handguns from being sold without an external trigger lock and barring anyone younger than 30 with a juvenile record for violent crimes from buying a handgun.

Beginning in 2002, Maryland residents also will have to complete a state-approved gun safety course before buying a weapon, and the following year, all handguns sold will have to be equipped with built-in locks.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Kim Skarda points at her home on a map on Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Concrete, Washington. A community called Sauk River Estates has a very steep slope above it. There is a DNR-approved timber sale that boarders the estate properties, yet they were not consulted about the sale before approval. The community has already appealed the sale and has hired their own geologist to conduct a slope stability report at the site. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Beneath steep slope, Concrete neighbors fear landslides from logging above

Nielsen Brothers plans to cut 54 acres of timber directly behind the community of 83 homes. Locals said they were never consulted.

Law enforcement respond to a person hit by a train near the Port of Everett Mount Baker Terminal on Thursday, June 27, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
2 killed in waterfront train crashes were near Mukilteo ‘quiet zone’

In June, two people were hit by trains on separate days near Mukilteo Boulevard. “These situations are incredibly tragic,” Everett’s mayor said.

Rob Plotnikoff takes a measurement as a part of the county's State of Our Waters survey at Tambark Creek in Bothell, Washington on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish County stream team bushwhacks a path to healthier waterways

This summer, the crew of three will survey 40 sites for the State of Our Waters program. It’s science in locals’ backyards.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
4th suspect arrested after Mountlake Terrace home robbery

Police arrested Taievion Rogers, 19, on Tuesday. Prosecutors charged his three alleged accomplices in April.

A 10 acre parcel off of Highway 99, between 240th and 242nd Street Southwest that the city of Edmonds is currently in the process of acquiring on Monday, July 10, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds ditches $37M Landmark public park project off Highway 99

The previous mayor envisioned parks and more in south Edmonds, in a historically neglected area. The new administration is battling budget woes.

Edmonds school official sworn in as Mount Vernon supe

Victor Vergara took his oath of office last week. He was assistant superintendent of equity and student success in Edmonds.

Former president Donald Trump is seen with a bloody ear as he is assisted off the stage during a campaign rally in Butler, Pa., on Saturday. MUST CREDIT: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post
Pops, screams and then blood: On the scene at the Trump rally shooting

Isaac Arnsdorf, Jabin Botsford | The Washington Post BUTLER, Pa. - The… Continue reading

Biden, Democrats, Republicans denounce shooting at Trump rally

Reaction pours in from government leaders

A bloodied Donald Trump is surrounded by Secret Service agents at a campaign rally in Butler, Pa, on Saturday, July, 13, 2024. The former president was rushed off stage at rally after sounds like shots; the former president was escorted into his motorcade at his rally in Butler, Pa., a rural town about an hour north of Pittsburgh. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)
Trump rally shooting investigated as assassination attempt

President Joe Biden gave a brief televised statement, condemning the violence as “sick.”

Firefighters and EMTs with Sky Valley Fire tour Eagle Falls while on an observational trip on Wednesday, July 10, 2024, near Index, Washington. (Jordan Hansen / The Herald)
Beautiful but deadly: Drownings common at Eagle Falls, other local waters

Locals and firefighters are sounding the alarm as Eagle Falls and the Granite Falls Fish Ladder have claimed five lives this year.

A view of the south eastern area of the Lake Stevens that includes lakeshore and UGA that is a part of the city's annexation area on Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020 in Lake Stevens, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Lake Stevens fight to take over sewer district could end soon

The city and sewer district have been locked in a yearslong dispute. A judge could put an end to the stalemate this month.

Lynnwood appoints new council member after abrupt resignation

Derica Escamilla will take the seat vacated by Shirley Sutton in May, who claimed the city had a “total lack of leadership.”

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.