CTNJ file photo
A police officer fires a handgun at the West Hartford shooting range (CTNJ file photo)

Members of the Judiciary Committee said opponents of two pieces of gun legislation almost crippled their email accounts by flooding them with letters in opposition to SB 603 and SB 607.

Rep. Patricia Dillon, D-New Haven, said she must have deleted 200 emails on Sunday and another 200 on Monday. Outside the committee room Monday she joked the amount of emails, which she said almost gave her

carpel tunnel syndrome.

One of the bills opposed by the gun lobby would require ammunition manufacturers to engrave each bullet with a code and for each gun retailer to keep a record of all individuals who purchased coded ammunition after Jan. 1, 2010. The other bill would require all gun manufacturers that sell semiautomatic guns in the state to use microstamping technology. The laser engraved code stamped on the firing pin imprints a code on the shell cartridge that can then be traced back to the gun it was fired from.

Opponents of the bills argued the first one would essentially limit the amount of ammunition a law-abiding gun owner could purchase, while the other one would increase the cost of guns. They also argued that microstamping technology isn’t foolproof. Proponents of the bills acknowledged microstamping may not be perfect, however, they argued it gives law enforcement another tool in solving crimes.

The anti-gun lobby wasn’t outspoken about ammunition coding. But Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Danaher III submitted testimony in opposition to the ammunition coding bill because of the fiscal impact it would have on his agency.

He said the bill would require his agency to develop and maintain a database, which would require the hiring of additional personnel and the purchase of equipment. In addition, Danaher pointed out that limiting the coding to assault weapon or handgun ammunition wouldn’t help law enforcement because ammunition is interchangeable between assault weapons, handguns, and long guns.

At a press conference early Monday morning the gun lobby and sportsmen organizations handed out a glossy folder of information detailing how independent studies have shown microstamping is flawed.

“Given the ease with which microstamping can be defeated, the independent studies calling for further review of the ‘flawed’ technology and the understanding that the average age of the Connecticut criminal’s gun is over 12 years old—not brand new—I am gravely concerned that the real cost of implementing this concept is huge compared to any reasonable public safety benefits that might possibly materialize,” said Joseph H. Bartozzi, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, O.F. Mossberg and Sons, Inc., a gun manufacturer.

Todd Lizotte, who developed the microstamping technology and is allowing the patent to be used royalty-free, said Monday that the independent study of the technology is flawed because even using the worst case scenario it was able to capture 50 percent of the data stamped on the cartridge. He said if a ballistics expert weren’t able to read one of the characters stamped on the cartridge it wouldn’t be a complete failure. The information would still be useful.

Lisa Labella, co-executive director of Connecticut Against Gun Violence, testified that in 2007, 26 Hartford residents were murdered with guns. By December 31, 2007 only six arrests had been made in those cases, leaving 77 percent unsolved. In New Haven, “no arrests had been made in 85 percent of homicides and non-fatal shootings,” she said.

“Clearly something must be done to help law enforcement get information that will lead to an arrest,” Labella said.

Ron Pinciaro, co-executive director of Connecticut Against Gun Violence, has said manufacturers 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. California passed similar legislation which will go into effect Jan. 1, 2010. The cost of implementing the technology is between 50 cents and $3 per gun, according to proponents of the bill. It will cost $50 to $100 per gun according to opponents like , of the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen.

Click here to read more about why law enforcement and the chairs of the Judiciary Committee support the technolgy. And here to read some of the testimony both for and against the bill.