Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Industrial Laser Solutions

Industrial Laser Solutions Articles, Fighting crime with laser engraving

While researching background on Micro-Serialization of ammunition, with particular reference to California's "Gun Crime Identification Act of 2007", I found the Industrial Laser Solutions article titled "Fighting Crime with Laser Engraving".

While I suggested that this was the "sole-source provider" of this technology, I cannot in good faith confirm that this is so. (A superficial, preliminary analysis shows no obvious relationship with Industrial Laser Solutions per se, but I have not and probably will not search for connections beyond those demonstrated in the following.)

I can point you to the article, and quote the source, so that you may judge for yourself the confidence of the technical (and otherwise) information provided there. This article, while undated, has obviously been written after the September 10, 2007 vote by the California Assembly and prior to the October 13, 2007 signing of the bill by the California Governornator:

Fighting Crime with Laser Engraving

Sacramento, CA-On September 10 the California Assembly passed legislation that is expected to provide police with an important tool in solving gun crimes and apprehending armed criminals-the Crime Gun Identification Act of 2007 (AB 1471). The California Senate approved the measure on September 6. AB 1471 requires that all new models of semiautomatic handguns are microstamped with their make, model, and serial number.

Back scatter scanning electron image of the primary firing pin, secondary breach face mark.

Microstamping uses UV lasers to engrave microscopic characters onto a gun’s firing pin and other internal surfaces. These characters transfer onto the cartridge casing when the handgun is fired. In instances of drive-by shootings, for example, where the only evidence at the crime scene may be a spent cartridge case, law enforcement could quickly obtain a critical lead.

Cartridge primer microstamp.

Todd Lizotte, the Londonderry, NH-based inventor of microstamping, believes the technology has the potential to target those who illegally traffic firearms by providing immediate identification of a firearm the first time it is used in a crime, which has been identified by law enforcement as a major benefit. The “time to crime”-the time it takes from the time the firearm is first sold to when it is “identified” as used in a crime-is between 1 to 12 years, notes Lizotte. “By allowing law enforcement to identify the firearm without having to actually recover it,” Lizotte explains, “means they have a better opportunity to understand its history from the first point of sale. Current ballistic or firearm identification can not take place until the firearm is recovered.” In Los Angeles it has been estimated that nearly 50% of gun-related crimes are unsolved, where the only evidence is cartridge casings.

In fighting crime, law enforcement agencies employ techniques such as “link analysis” and “social networking,” which rely on identifying leads to connect people to events. By identifying through microstamping the first person who purchased the firearm, law enforcement can quickly assess if they are part of the criminal social network or, in the case of a stolen firearm, if the firearm was stolen by a known theft ring within the area. As for honest firearm owners, everything remains the same. No new bureaucracy is introduced; the same trace system is employed and all the information stays at the firearm manufacturer’s facility.

[NOTES: (1) The microstamping capability of an individual firearm is easily obliterated; (2) assuming that firearms are most frequently acquired by criminals via theft immediately breaks the chain of possession; (3) the cost of the firearm to the 'honest firearms owners' is increased; (4) to say that 'no new bureaucracy is introduced' is disingenuous; (5) there is implied a bureaucratic and administrative burdon on the 'firearm manufacturer'.

In response to arguments that microstamping would add significant cost to the manufacture of a handgun, Lizotte has agreed to make the technology available to the firearms industry royalty-free (the patented portion of the technology is held by ID Dynamics, Seattle, WA).

[Note: the 'technology' may be made available 'royalty free', but the equipment and administrative requirements will greatly add to the cost of manufacture! It also adds to the administrative costs of the wholesaler and the retailer.]

A GOOGLE search on ID DYNAMICS yields this primary reference, which seems innocent enough (a U.K. company company offering "Infrared Surveying for Predictive Maintenance Programs" ... how innocent can you get?

However, there were several other hits when you dig down past the first page: -

Microstamping technology, invented and patented by Todd Lizotte and presently owned by a company he founded called NanoMark, a division of ID Dynamics of Seattle, Washington, recently completed a series of tests of the microstamping process that the company says validates the new technology.

Feasible but flawed

The NanoMark tests were conducted in response to a May 3 University of California (UC)-Davis study in which researcher Michael Beddow concluded that microstamping is "feasible, but flawed." Beddow, a graduate student, performed the study as a master's thesis under Fred Tulleners, director of the forensics program at UC-Davis. Tulleners was formerly director of the California Department of Justice crime lab in Sacramento, as well as the Sacramento and Santa Rosa county crime labs. A university press release covering the study stated that microstamping "does not work well for all guns and ammunition tested" and required "more testing to determine the costs and feasibility of a statewide program."

NSSF: Background on Firearms Microstamping Technology:
The study found that micro-characters laser engraved on the ID Dynamics-supplied firing pins tested suffered varying degrees of degradation; in some cases severe degradation. The markings micro-characters laser engraved onto the tip firing pins did not reliably and consistently “copy” or imprint (impress) the information onto the primer of the expended cartridge case. The test results were also impacted by the type and brand of ammunition used in the test. The design and normal operation/functioning of the firearm tested influenced the results, i.e. depth of firing pin indentation (impression) on the primer, whether the firearm produced “firing pin drag,” whether it produced multiple firing pin strikes on the primer that obliterated or deformed some or all of the impressions of the micro-characters on the cartridge casing. The technology did not work at all on rimfire firearms and ammunition, which are very common. The results were also impacted depending on the nature of the micro-characters laser engraved on the firing pin, i.e. alphanumeric code, a “gear code” or radial bar code. Notably, due to size/space limitations and the geometry of firing pins, ID Dynamics is incapable of producing alphanumeric coded firing pins with enough micro-characters to display the name of the manufacturer, the model and serial number of the firearm on the tip of the firing pin, as called for by H. 6343. The radial bar code and dot code firing pins degraded more rapidly than the alphanumeric coded firing pins and were less reliable. - RE: New Test Affirms Validity of Microstamping Technology:
The Lone Weasel wrote: Bama Brian said:
The Lone Weasel wrote:
May 24, 2007

New Test Affirms Validity of Microstamping Technology

Seattle, WA (May 25, 2007) –NanoMark Technologies, a
division of ID Dynamics, recently completed a rigorous
test of the microstamping process that demonstrates the
validity and efficacy of this exciting, evolutionary new
A study done by NanoMark? This is just as valid as those
studies done by the cigarette companies showing that
cigarettes don't cause cancer.

Cigarette corporations made billions on cigarettes; Lizotte donated his royalties for microstamping patents so gun manufacturers could implement the technology with nominal expense.

Microstamping does not cause cancer, CrammaJammaDingDangDong.
The HighRoad (ref: The Washington Post):
Proponents from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence said this would cost manufacturers only between 50 cents and $1 per firearm. They said that in many homicides _ 45 percent in California _ no arrest is made because of lack of evidence.
Yeah, right ... except for the cost of manufacturing ammunition under the serialization requirements imposed upon a small-item, mass-produced manufacturing process.

(Does not identify the technology provider; I just threw this in because I love reading The High Road

The conclusions reached by various commentators, with varying degrees of technical evaluation, strongly suggests that the technology would be expensive to implement and administer, and problematic in terms of reliability.

This is being established on the basis of criminal prosecution for capital crimes; is this the kind of technical support we want to rely on when it means the possible execution for Murder of an innocent man whose only crime is that he bought a legal weapon and The State cannot practically determine possession, but will legally be justified in averring J'Accuse on the basis of dubious technology?

Finally, when we search for NANOMARK, which has consistently been co-identified with ID Dynamics of Seattle, Wa., we find this:

NanoMark Technologies has developed a PATENTED BALLISTIC TAGGING TECHNOLOGY. The technology places an identification mark on each cartridge casing ejected from a properly outfitted firearm at the moment of firing each bullet. The idea is to have this technology integrated in firearms as an alternative to the ballistic “fingerprinting” methods currently under such hot debate.

Today's common "ballistic fingerprinting" technology is the computer automation of the science practiced by Forensic Firearms Examiners. These specialists have honed the science of comparing the signature of two bullets and/or cartridges, and have shown an extremely high degree of success as long as two physical specimens are available for the match. In ballistic fingerprinting, it is hoped that a computer can compare one physical piece of evidence to a virtual picture of the first ammunition fired by a firearm. Relying on a vast databases containing tediously large image files, the computer systems have fallen short in delivering accuracy and repeatability. This has called into question the concept of ballistic fingerprint database technology's readiness by some of the most respected Forensic Firearms Examiners in the world. [Ed: yes, and you suggest that you are more reliable ... but independent tests suggest that your reliability is questionable at best.]

Our technology eliminates the need for national gun registration or a national database for new guns sold. The ID marks delivered by Ballistic ID Tagging can be simply viewed by utilizing imaging equipment commonly found at local, state and federal forensics laboratories. Because of its uniqueness, it does not require extensive cross-jurisdictional ballistic image databases or a national ballistic image database containing the files of new guns sold every year. [Ed: see below.]

Our technology imparts a unique, indelible, and microscopic code onto the cartridge casings when a bullet is fired and the cartridge case is ejected from a properly outfitted firearm. This code takes the form of encrypted symbols, bar codes or simple alpha-numeric characters (such as a serial number or some type of tracking number) that can be accessed at the individual manufacturers’ level. This type of identifier would immediately and unquestionably lead investigators to a specific gun without requiring the manpower and expense associated with the creation and maintenance of a ballistic image database containing millions of images. Furthermore, it has been shown that as a gun wears over time, its fingerprint changes enough to confuse the current generation of database search routines.

[Ed: yes, and the horse may learn to sing. The firing pin ... source of the microstamping ... will not wear under extended usage to the point where it provides unreliable/inconsistent readings. All crimes will be committed with firearms which eject the case upon firing. All 'crime guns' will be used during commission of a crime by the original purchaser. Your database search routines are flawless. And I promise to respect you in the morning, you idiot.]

We understand the volatile political and social issues involved with gun legislation at any level, but to give you an idea of the attention we have received recently, a state Senator from California has asked us to testify in front of the California State Senate regarding the practical nature of using our technology instead of the ballistic image database technique. We are also participating in a funded project by the California Department of Justice Forensics Laboratory and the California Criminalistics Institute to help determine the best implementation strategies for a state the size of California.

[Ed: your testimony is completely objective because your heart is true, and you have no economic reason why you should lie about such an important subject.]
That's the Smoking Gun.

The "sole-source" purveyor of technology for Microstamping Ammunition is NanoMark (copyright 2004), a division of ID Dynamics, and they are indeed marketing the technology specifically for California.

A few comments on the claims of Nanomark:

"Our technology eliminates the need for national gun registration or a national database for new guns sold. The ID marks delivered by Ballistic ID Tagging can be simply viewed by utilizing imaging equipment commonly found at local, state and federal forensics laboratories. Because of its uniqueness, it does not require extensive cross-jurisdictional ballistic image databases or a national ballistic image database containing the files of new guns sold every year."

This is pure marketing smoke-and-mirrors. In fact, it absolutely requires a "national database" ... but it must necessarily be established by the manufacturer. That would occur on a 'cost-plus' basis, of course, and there are no provisions for oversight.

(On the other hand, if it were to be operated by private industry rather than by a governmental entity, it just might eliminate the bureaucratic idiocy necessitated by Public Sector Participation. Hmmm ... we should consider this?)

On the third hand, all claims of 'objectivity' go right out the window.

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