In Maryland, some maniac/terrorist/serial-Tarot-Card-flipping murderer plays a local version of Saddam Hussein – randomly executing innocent men, women and children – while politicians pose, sheriffs speechify and the usual cast of ex-law enforcement talking heads re-read the same dog-eared scripts they’ve probably memorized after this summer’s rash of child abductions and murders.
In the meantime, you couldn’t find a major lead in this case with an electron microscope.
But there has been one glimmer of light. Sadly, not one that will help us catch this cowardly scumbag, but something that might prevent his brothers (or sisters) in future crimes from getting away with this many murders for this long a time.
I mean the dreaded “R” word – registration.
No, not registering all weapons, or gun owners or where your precious guns are hidden, buried or concealed. Rather, this registration is logical, compelling and seemingly irrefutable, especially under the present circumstances – registration of the unique “signature” that marks each bullet as it exits the gun barrel.
Everybody who has watched Perry Mason knows what this is all about. The twisted grooves within gun barrels (rifling) that increases accuracy by spinning the bullet also leaves unique marks on the round that can be matched to the gun that fired it. Since all guns are test fired before leaving the factory (some companies like Walther even include the test-fired targets to buyers of their guns), it would seem to be a no-brainer to snap a photo of a recovered bullet and send it along to the FBI with the firearm’s serial number. Later if bullets wind up in bodies and there’s no shooter in sight, the database could be tapped to at least jump-start an investigation.
I’m just a dumb liberal, so all my gun-toting conservative friends will have to explain a few things to me. All permits to carry require either the human fingerprint of the bearer, or the submission of a set of such prints. In most states, an FID card (Firearm Identification Card) requires a fingerprint or at least hard verification on who you are, where you live and whether you’re the kind of person who ought to be armed in the first place.
So given all that, who could possibly oppose the common-sense measure of “fingerprinting” firearms by registering their unique ballistics?
How about the National Rifle Association? How about the Gun Owners of America?
I listened with interest recently to Larry Pratt, the articulate and very intelligent head of GOA. Registration wouldn’t work, he assured us. He treated the audience (and any potential murderers tuning in) to a technical discussion of how a maniac serial killer (who would have to be as intelligent, composed and experienced with weapons as he is) could alter rifling, switch barrels, and so forth. Why bother? he asked, and then went on to describe the most threatening geological formation known to the American Right. No, it’s not an exploding volcano or shifting tectonic plates. It’s the dreaded SLIPPERY SLOPE!
At the bottom of that slope is gun registration and confiscation, taking away everybody’s SUVs, limits on CEO compensation, estate taxes, in short, pure, unadulterated fascism. The American Reich. The British are coming!
I say, poppycock! Early in the last century, the United States Supreme Court ruled that nobody had the right to yell, “Fire!” in a crowded movie theater. But somehow, free speech in this country hasn’t been affected a bit. As a society, I think we’re mature enough to tolerate a few common-sense regulations without turning over the shebang to the Brownshirts.
One thing is certain: If the history of True Crime in this country proves one thing, it’s that once some freak establishes a new benchmark of horror – murders, robberies, rapes, arsons and so forth – he (or she) doesn’t hold the record very long. Soon they’re outdone by some other publicity addicted megalomaniac.
And, no, “tougher sentencing standards” won’t keep these Olympic-sized sickos off the streets. I’m afraid that society must arm itself with at least a chance to bag these killers right after the first shot’s fired. And no, we don’t have “too many gun laws” in this situation. In fact, we need one more – one that requires record keeping of a gun’s ballistics with the serial number of the gun.
But no, such a law might lead to the overthrow of our elected democracy by mysterious forces led by black helicopters.
In the meantime, some freak laughingly pumps two rounds in the chest of a 13-year-old kid, and leaves the “Death” Tarot card on which he declared himself God.
If as a society we prove so stupid that we can’t defend ourselves against that, maybe that murderous, cowardly freak has a point.