Police chiefs, district attorneys and mayors from across the state advocated for legislation today that would require shell casings from semi-automatic handguns to be stamped as a way to help investigators at crime scenes.
The microstamping technology would imprint a unique code on the casings that could help police track a gun’s purchase and owner, advocates said. The legislation passed the state Assembly and was set for a vote today in the Senate, but it was unclear whether Democrats could get enough support from Republicans to get the 32 votes for it to pass.
Three upstate Democratic Sens. Darrel Aubertine, David Valesky and William Stachowski are expected to vote no, leaving advocates to seek support from the three New York City Republican senators — Andrew Lanza, Frank Padavan and Martin Golden. Rochester Police Chief David Moore said he planned to meet with Sen. Joseph Robach, R-Greece, Monroe County, this afternoon in Albany to ask him to back the legislation.
If passed, New York would be the second state in the nation to adopt the technology. California passed it in 2007.
“Let me stress that this has nothing to do with the Second Amendment,” said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is leading the charge for the legislation. “It has everything to do with protecting the public and saving lives.”
Gun-rights groups denounced the legislation, saying that studies have shown that the technology is unproven, California has yet to implement it because of patent issues and the testing would be expensive. Also, they warned that New York gun manufacturers would need to reconfigure its products, which would raise costs and limit gun sales in the state.
The firearms industry employs nearly 4,000 people in New York, the gun-rights groups said, including Kimber in Yonkers and the Remington Arms Co. in Ilion, Herkimer County.
“They are foisting upon the people of New York state legislation they think is going to make them safer but in effect is not going to do anything at all,” said Tom King, president of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association.
In a statement, Kimber said it is unaware of any study that proves microstamping is effective in reducing crime.
“Absent definitive findings on both issues, microstamping legislation yields little more than a false sense of achievement for our elected officials,” said Kimber COO Ralph Karanian. “It will likely cost New York all-important manufacturing jobs and tax revenues, but most notably it will distract us from the pursuit of truly effective solutions.”
But Yonkers officials said they support the measure. Yonkers Mayor Philip Amicone, who was listed as an attendee at the event but didn’t show up, supports the legislation, a spokesman said, while Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers, said she will back it as well.
“It has always been my belief that we can do things to stop criminal activity,” she said. “I certainly support my gun manufacturer, and I appreciate they’re in my district, but I see it as two separate issues. I think it’s important that businesses, legitimate business, thrive and that’s one thing. But it’s also important that we discourage criminal activity.”
New York Mayors Against Illegal Guns starting running ads today around the state. Here’s one of the television spots.