Christine Stuart photo

On average law enforcement officers recover “just shell cartridges” in about half of all shootings nationwide, Josh Horowitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, said Monday.

Horowitz, along with the co-chairmen of the state Judiciary Committee, and other gun control advocates gathered at the West Hartford Police Department firing range Monday to support a bill that would require microstamping of all new semiautomatic guns sold in Connecticut after Jan. 1, 2010. The proponents of the bill said a higher percentage of cases would be closed if police could identify the gun from the shell cartridges collected at a crime scene.

What is microstamping? Keep reading to find out.

Microstamping technology uses a laser to engrave the breech face and firing pin of a gun with its make, model, and serial number. Any cartridge expelled from the gun will be stamped with that information and police at a crime scene would almost immediately be able to link a shell cartridge to a gun.

Wouldn’t criminals start getting smart and picking up their shell cartridges before fleeing the scene? Horowitz said “criminals don’t pick up shells.”

Would it be an expensive technology for gun manufacturers to start implementing?

Horowitz said no. He estimated it will cost between 50 cents and $3 per gun because the technology’s inventor, Todd Lizotte, agreed to give away the patented technology royalty free.

Also Ron Pinciaro, executive director of Connecticut Against Gun Violence, said manufacturers will have already had to incorporate the technology into their process for the state of California, so it will be there when more states come on board.

Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, compared the technology to “a fingerprint for a gun.”

Rep. Michael Lawlor, D-East Haven, said this is not just about who fired the gun, but about who put the gun in the shooter’s hand. Lawlor and McDonald pointed out that opposition to the bill will obviously come from the National Rifle Association, but at the end of the day police will win the argument. He said the technology gives police one more tool to catch the bad guys.

California already has passed legislation, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2010. Six other states are proposing similar laws.

Click the play arrow to see what Lawlor and McDonald had to say about the bill and how it piggybacks on legislation passed last year: