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News & Editorials

The Practical Impossibility of "Ballistic Fingerprinting"

by WOP2, Southwest Pennsylvania Patriot

I have come to the conclusion, after sleeping on this subject, that ballistic fingerprinting is a practical impossibility, regardless of existing or new technology. My basis is a simple thesis.  Going back to our friend, Mr. 1911 or one of his clones:

  1. .45ACP brass is easy and popular to reload.

  2. A fired casing, fired for the first time, may bear a ballistic fingerprint for gun "A"

  3. Once reloaded, the loaded cartridge may be fired through gun "B", "C", ad infinitum. I'd venture to guess there are several million handguns chambered for .45 ACP, not to mention sub-machine guns and a few "ranch rifles". Even the venerable Single Action Army .45 Long Colt will accept .45 ACP if you use moon clips. 

  4. Once fired through a second firearm, the case would bear two ballistic fingerprints. I suspect that neither would be specifically identifiable. 

  5. .45 ACP brass is expensive. It is also very reloadable - up to 7 to 10 times. Theoretically, then, a fired case could have been through 10 different firearms before it was discarded and turned in for scrap value. I cannot imagine any technology that could conceivably identify the last firearm a 10 times fired .45ACP casing came from. 

  6. Pataki's plan will not fingerprint existing firearms (if I understand the news article), only new firearms. The ballistic fingerprint database, then, is incomplete by something like 250 million handguns already owned by the public. That means that if my original contention that a minimum of 300 rounds per firearm are needed to create a viable data base, the ballistic fingerprint data base proposed by Pataki is 250 million X 300 firings = 75,000,000,000 fingerprints short. 

I think I've presented my case fairly well. Ballistic fingerprinting is the most bogus and lame "gun control measure" to be offered to the public EVER! Pataki and his experts obviously never took a mathematics class. Geez, talk about a geometric progression of stupidity!

(Feel free to reprint this article for the benefit of any of your anti gun friends who are also mathematically challenged. I encourage you to use it on the anti gunners who just LOVE statistics.)

Yet another fine common sense analysis by a member. Reprint permission granted with the following attribution: Reprinted with permission by


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