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Proceedings Paper

Tracking illegal small arms traffic across U.S. borders through the implementation of firearm microstamping to small arms and small arms exports
Author(s): Todd E. Lizotte; Orest P. Ohar
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Paper Abstract

At a border security conference in August 2008, Michael Sullivan, acting director of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives stated that, "Nearly all illegal firearms (90% to 95%) seized in Mexico come from the United States"[1]. When firearms are recovered at a crime scene, the firearms can be traced providing specific details on illegal firearm dealers or straw purchasers within the United States. Criminals or narco terrorist groups target US dealers to source firearms for drug cartels in Mexico and South America. Joint law enforcement programs between the US and Mexico law enforcement have been effective, however, in most cases the firearms that are seized are only a small fraction of the firearms trafficked across the United States border. A technology called Microstamping, when applied to newly manufactured firearms will provide further opportunities for tracing illegal firearms for law enforcement in the United States and across the globe. Microstamping is a patented technology and trace solution where intentional tooling marks are formed or micromachined onto firearms interior surfaces that come into contact or impact the surfaces of cartridge casings. The intentional tooling marks can take the form of alphanumeric codes or encoded geometric codes, such as a barcode. As the firearm is discharged the intentional tooling marks transfer a code to the cartridge casing before it is ejected out of the firearm. When recovered at the scene of an incident, the Microstamped cartridge can indentify a specific firearm, without the need to recover that firearm. Microstamping provides critical intelligence for use in border security operations and cross border violent drug related crime investigations. This paper will explain the key attributes of microstamping technology; including its potential benefits in border security operations and how data gathered from the technique can be used in geospatial information systems to identify illicit firearm sources, trafficking routes, as well as spatial and temporal mapping of narco-terrorist movements on either side of the border.

Paper Details

Date Published: 5 May 2009
PDF: 24 pages
Proc. SPIE 7305, Sensors, and Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (C3I) Technologies for Homeland Security and Homeland Defense VIII, 730504 (5 May 2009); doi: 10.1117/12.819504
Show Author Affiliations
Todd E. Lizotte, Pivotal Development Co. (United States)
Orest P. Ohar, Pivotal Development Co. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7305:
Sensors, and Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (C3I) Technologies for Homeland Security and Homeland Defense VIII
Edward M. Carapezza, Editor(s)

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