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PostWatch: An irregular correction to the Washington Post

Brought to you by Christopher Rake


Thursday, October 31, 2002
8:28 AM

Not in the Post Watch.... Fraternal Order of Police oppose ballistic fingerprinting

An "urgent message from Sarah Brady," chairwoman of the Brady Campaign, sent last week asked readers "to rush an emergency gift," to help promote such a system, and claimed that, "for years police have called for the creation of such a database."

But a document obtained by over the weekend from the Grand Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) - the nation's largest membership organization exclusively for law enforcement officers - contradicted those claims.

"The FOP does not support any federal requirement to register privately owned firearms with the federal government," the document stated. "Without federally-mandated registration of the more than 200 million firearms in the U.S. today, such a database would be no more effective than the current NIBIN [National Integrated Ballistic Information Network] maintained by ATF [the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms]."...

The FOP even challenged the use of the terminology "ballistic fingerprinting" to refer to the investigative technique.

"Since ballistic imprints, unlike fingerprints and DNA, can be altered, either deliberately or simply through normal use," the group asked, "how will we ensure the validity of the findings?"

Kevin Watson is legislative director for the Law Enforcement Alliance of America (LEAA), a membership group of law enforcement officers and private citizens supportive of police. He told that legislators have to look past the latest "buzz word" from gun control advocates to find what really helps get criminals off the streets. "A lot of the people who push ideas like this say that, 'Well, even if it just catches one crook it can't hurt,'" he noted. "But if it costs $3 trillion and only catches one crook it sure does hurt, because that's money that could be spent elsewhere on things that we know do work."

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