Liberty is an inherently offensive lifestyle. Living in a free society guarantees that each one of us will see our most cherished principles and beliefs questioned and in some cases mocked. That psychic discomfort is the price we pay for basic civic peace. It's worth it. It's a pragmatic principle. Defend everyone else's rights, because if you don't there is no one to defend yours. -- MaxedOutMama

I don't just want gun rights... I want individual liberty, a culture of self-reliance....I want the whole bloody thing. -- Kim du Toit

The most glaring example of the cognitive dissonance on the left is the concept that human beings are inherently good, yet at the same time cannot be trusted with any kind of weapon, unless the magic fairy dust of government authority gets sprinkled upon them.-- Moshe Ben-David

The cult of the left believes that it is engaged in a great apocalyptic battle with corporations and industrialists for the ownership of the unthinking masses. Its acolytes see themselves as the individuals who have been "liberated" to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it's because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it's because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem. -- Sultan Knish

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Pat Me on the Back, I'm Right Again!

(Y'know, that Ravenwood fella's pretty awesome! Another hat tip for the link.)

Remember that thesis-length piece I wrote, Why Ballistic Fingerprinting Doesn't (And Won't) Work? I concluded that piece as follows:
"It has simply failed in the Mission and Vision concepts originally established for the Program."

So in addition to being useless, it has the extra added bonus of being expensive. The MD-IBIS report also notes that New York's system has been equally successful (i.e., a complete failure) but it's cost New York taxpayers over eight million dollars so far. According to this link, the price is nearly $16 million. It would appear that throwing more money at the problem doesn't help.

So the reaction I expect? The philosophy cannot be wrong. Try it again, ONLY HARDER!!
Well, read this:
Gun program could be shot down
Maryland lawmakers consider ending signature ballistic fingerprinting system

By Sarah Abruzzese
Capital News Service

ANNAPOLIS -- Maryland's marquee ballistic fingerprinting program, which has cost the state $2.5 million to date, is imperiled by an unsupportive administration that has called for its end and zeroed out its budget.

A few years ago, the program that requires every new weapon sold in Maryland be ballistics tested and filed was heralded as state-of-the-art gun control. President Clinton watched then Gov. Parris N. Glendening sign the landmark Responsible Gun Act of 2000 into law.

Today, opponents say the system doesn't work due to faulty information, biased technicians and incompatibility with the federal ballistics system. It, they say, should be abolished.
No, opponents say the system doesn't work because the idea behind it is technically infeasable. It has nothing to do with "faulty information, biased technicians, nor incompatibility with the federal ballistics system." THE CONCEPT IS FLAWED AND CANNOT BE IMPLEMENTED FOR WHOLLY TECHNICAL REASONS, NOT IDEOLOGICAL ONES.

*Ahem* Sorry about the shouting.
Proponents say ballistic fingerprinting offers law enforcement a valuable tool for investigating crime.
Of course they do. Facts matter not a whit to them. The philosophy cannot be wrong!
Del. Neil F. Quinter, D-Howard, said the program needs to be given more time to fully develop.
But of course! We must hurl more good money after bad! The philosophy CANNOT BE WRONG!
It is still too early to see if the system that began operating in 2000 is effective, Quinter said, because there is a lag between a gun's purchase and when it is used in a crime -- 3 to 6.1 years.
Except they've tested the system against guns KNOWN TO BE IN THE DATABASE and IT FAILED TO IDENTIFY THEM. (But facts, once again, DON'T MATTER to these people. The PHILOSOPHY CANNOT BE WRONG!)
The sponsors said the purpose of the bill to kill the program is housekeeping.
Read: "We don't have the spine to stand up and tell these morons THE PHILOSOPHY IS WRONG!"
With no money in the budget to support the program, said Del. Joan D. Cadden, D-Anne Arundel, "The program is already dead. ... We need to pass the legislation so state police won't be breaking the law."

The ballistic fingerprinting system cost $1.4 million to set up and state police estimated it will cost $435,269 in fiscal year 2005.

Concerns

As a legislator, Maryland State Police Superintendent Col. Thomas E. Hutchins voted against Glendening's gun bill, even though he said he supported the ballistics testing component. Now he said the program should be cut.

The state's attorney for Prince George's County has a pending murder case where ballistics fingerprinting helped but he couldn't reveal details of the ongoing case.
Is that the one where the system "worked exactly backwards"? Where it was used not to identify a gun in the database (but not in police hands) as a crime gun, but matched a known or suspected crime gun that the police already had to a crime?

I wonder if that's why he can't "reveal the details."
"It has the potential to be equivalent to fingerprints and the DNA database," Glenn F. Ivey said. "You have to make sure you can reach a critical mass of data."
Mr. Ivey, you are a lying sonofabitch. It CANNOT be "equivalent to fingerprints and the DNA database, as I showed in excrutiating detail. And that "critical mass of data"? That's newspeak for "every single firearm in existence."

Not gonna happen.
And there is a significant amount of data that could be put into the system, said a Baltimore City Police Department spokesman.

"Just to go by the number of shootings we have in the city," Officer Troy Harris said, "it would be thousands."

The state's ballistic database system has 43,729 casings and has had only 208 queries to date. Just six successful identifications have been made -- a reason opponents cite for dropping the program.

The state's DNA database, which has assisted in 224 investigations, took as long to bear fruit. Just two years ago it assisted in only 39 cases.

That DNA program, which began in 1994 and got its first hit in 1998, does work, the assistant director for the Maryland State Police Forensic Sciences Division said. The lag in effectiveness was blamed on federal changes that entailed a complete overhaul of the state's system.

Reliability is also a problem, said Teresa M. Long.

The state has found 222 test firings conducted by gun makers that were inaccurate, she said.

"If you were to investigate other instances you may find them suspect," Long said.

Technicians interpreting the data also have biases, she said.

That shouldn't be the case, said the vice president for Strategic Planning & Marketing for Forensic Technology, which sold the ballistic fingerprinting system to Maryland.

"The system needs to be nurtured," said Pete Gagliardi. "The system needs to be fed. It depends on people. Technology is just a tool. It is only useful if someone uses it."
Bullshit, bullshit, and more bullshit. It's not a "fingerprint," it's not "gun DNA," and calling it so won't make it so. But keep telling those lies! Someone will believe you, and they'll drag out a big checkbook!
Forensic Technology has supplied 234 systems in the United States, many of them part of National Integrated Ballistics Information Network and New York's system, which also has a ballistic fingerprinting program similar to Maryland's.
Yes, and as they fail to mention, New York's has cost far more, and been equally useless. Wonder why they left that out?
When he learned Friday of the state's problem with biased information, Gagliardi offered to retrain the users -- for free.
So now they want to base the problems on "technician bias"? I thought the system was supposed to be automated? How "biased" can an operator be when his job is to take pictures of fired cases, and then look at the "hits" the system generates? I smell more evasive bullshit.
Opposition

Gun advocates see the situation as a vindication of their opposition to the program.
"Gun advocates." Not gun RIGHTS advocates, but just "gun advocates." Nope, no bias there!
"When ballistic fingerprinting was implemented," the National Rifle Association of America's State Liaison Jennifer H. Palmer said, "the NRA said it was a waste of time, money and resources. ... It doesn't work, it's ineffective."

A gun store owner from Baltimore said ballistic fingerprints can easily be changed and that the system only comes up with matches that eliminate guns, not positively identify them.

"This is not DNA," said Sanford Abrams. "This is not fingerprinting."

Gun owners on the Lower Shore also continue to be leery of the measure.

"If we were seeing some good results, I wouldn't have that much of problem with it," said Franklin Emerson of Pocomoke City. "But right now, it just seems to be a drag on our money and manpower."

Proponents of ballistic testing say Maryland's problem with the system is poor implementation of procedures.
Of course they do! No mention of California's two Ballistic Imaging reports, no discussion of New York's abject failure. The philosophy cannot be wrong!, It must be improper implementation!

Classic cognitive dissonance.
The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence wants Maryland to work to connect its system with the federal one so testing could be done statewide. Maryland's system differs from the federal one, which collects ballistic information from crimes.

There are simple remedies to the problems the state police are reporting, the coalition's executive director said.
"For every problem there is a solution that is simple, obvious, and wrong." - Attributed to a lot of different people, but no less true for that.
"These are minor issues you can easily overcome with a well-thought-out work plan," said Joshua Horowitz.
But I thought the Ballistic Fingerprinting System was a "well-thought-out-plan," and it failed. So try again, only harder?
Doug Kramer of Salisbury agreed, saying the system needs to be refined more before it is complete shelved.
Yup, "Try again, only HARDER!"
"I just feel like it got thrown out there too quickly," he said.
"The philosophy CANNOT BE WRONG!
The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, which heard testimony on one bill to eliminate the program on March 1, has not set a date for a vote.

No vote has been set for the bill in the House Judiciary Committee, which heard testimony Wednesday. Committee members appear divided on whether to scrap the system.

"It's confusing," said Del. Luiz Simmons, D-Montgomery. "Opponents and proponents have their own set of facts."
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts." - Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan
"I think that repealing the bill, if it does not deserve to be repealed," Simmons said, "merely ratifies bad policy and bad administration."
Try again, ONLY HARDER!!!

It never stops.

I hope like hell Delegate Cadden is correct and the program is well and truly dead, but I smell a zombie rising here.

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