Saturday, February 07, 2004

In an interesting development, I'm almost inclined to believe that ballistic fingerprinting could be theoretically as accurate as biometric fingerprinting.

"...At present, there is virtually no accurate information on just how often fingerprint examiners actually make mistakes -- and unlike DNA experts, fingerprint experts routinely testify that their matches are '100 percent certain'."

Hmmm. I see the parallel between biometric fingerprint examiners & the BATF already. Here's a quote from BATF agent Thomas A. Busey (actually he was Chief of the National Firearms Act Branch of the BATF when he made the statement)

"...when we testify in court, we testify that the data base is 100% accurate. That's what we testify to, and we will always testify to that. As you probably well know, that may not be 100 percent true."

Nothing like a little honesty in dishonesty government. Back to the biometric fingerprint piece:

"Fingerprinting is often said to be be infallible, a forensic 'gold standard.' But if we ask how often declared fingerprint matches are actually wrong, the only honest answer is that no one has any idea...There are no systematic proficiency tests to evaluate examiners' skill. Those tests that exist are not routinely used and are substandard. In another recent case, even the FBI's proficiency tests were acknowledged by another fingerprint examiner to be absurdly easy."

Sounds as if they've taken the scientific approach that many gun control advocates use. Say you're right about a subject, but fail to provide any credible documentation to back your claims. But be sure to label someone an "expert" if they agree with your claim, despite their qualifications.

"...there are no uniform standards, locally or nationally, about what counts as a fingerprint match. Different jurisdictions, and even different examiners, have different criteria, and the courts have simply left it to the experts' judgment."

Again, not that different from the "assault weapons" legislation across the country.

"In addition, we have no idea how often two individuals -- whose prints would indeed look different if we had access to a complete set of 10 undistorted prints -- might have partial fingerprints that resemble each other enough for an examiner reasonably to mistake them as coming from the same person, especially when the print lifted from the crime scene might be smudged and distorted."

& similarly this is a flaw in the ballistic fingerprinting concepts that have been pushed around: the idea that a partial match is conclusive proof that the two prints came from the same source.

Here's ballistic fingerprinting in a nutshell:

Ballistic fingerprinting is suppossed to match the "unique" markings left on the projectile to the barrel that made them.

However, one must remember that the markings a barrel will leave on a projectile will change over time. A projectile of lead or any other metal travels down a steel barrel at great speed - often faster than the speed of sound. This creates friction which wears on both the projectile & the barrel. The same process that imprints markings from the barrel on the projectile wears down the barrel itself. The rate of this wear is dependent upon several variables not the least of which is projectile speed. Some cartridges are more wear intensive than others, but all cartridges cause this wear to some degree or the other. In fact, many gunsmiths could make a decent living off of rebarrelling alone. Some cartridges in common use for certain shooting sports (namely benchrest competition) will wear down the rifling in a barrel to the point that accuracy suffers because the bullet no longer tightly fits the barrel. This can happen in as little as a few hundred rounds, although most rifle cartridges will not degrade accuracy of a barrel for at least a few thousand rounds.

So the markings left by the barrel itself tend to change with use.

Another variable is intentional alteration of the barrel. A piece of No.4 steel wool run down a barrel a few times will alter a barrel enough that it cannot be matched with 100% certainty to the projectile that it shot last. A pocket knife, coat hanger or any other piece of metal can later a barrel's "unique" markings in a matter of seconds.

& this notion of matching a projectile to a barrel is further nullified when dealing with shotguns, which with a few exceptions, have no rifling at all to make a mark & typically fire shot (many projectiles) in a protective plastic cup.

Ballistic fingerprinting is completely erroneous, except as an example of how unscrupulous or ignorant politicians will use junk science to further a prejudicial goal.

Professor Jennifer L. Mnookin's article is an excellent response to those who keep insisting that ballistic fingerprinting is as accurate as biometric fingerprinting. They may in fact even be correct. Ballistic fingerprinting may be as accurate as biometric fingerprinting in certain cases. They just don't realize that those cases would be where biometric fingerprinting is as accurate as the witch dunking test abandoned in the 17th century.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

A meme is floating around that asks 5 questions of a blogger. I first happened upon it over at Walter In Denver's blog. It's more or less a short interview initiated at the request of the interviewed party. I'll post the rules to this at the bottom.

Walter was gracious enough to ask me 5 questions & here are the answers:

1. If you could choose either a) modern America or b)a new country that
completely bans guns but has no taxes or other restrictions on civil
liberties, which would you take?

Modern America. Not that I'm particularly happy with the way things are & seem to be headed, but it is inevitable that a disarmed populace will be subjected. So while this gunless utopia may seem cool now, odds are it won't stay that way for long & the people won't have the means to resist forceful degradation of their Rights.

2. Where is your favorite camp site in Colorado?

I haven't actually had a chance to camp since I've been out here, but there's a spot I have my eye on near where I go turkey hunting. So forgive me if I can't disclose the exact location. It's around the wet mountains of the Sangre de Cristo range.

3. Is there anyone currently in the State Lege who would make a good US

I would say Marilyn Musgrave, but she's already made the jump from state to federal politics.
I have little experience with the Colorado legislature, aside from the form letters I get when I write my reps. So I can tell you more than a few who shouldn't be public servants (especially since they don't act like public servants now) but the only current Colorado congresscritter I could say might be an o.k. federal congresscritter is Greg Brophy. I say this with some reservation since I don't know much about his stance on other issues, but anyone who introduces a bill to make concealed carry without a permit legal is probably closer to being a good guy than a bad one.

4. What's an appropriate prison term for the average member of

Well, I think prison might be the wrong punishment. Lately I'm thinking more & more that the "tarred & feathered" approach was abandoned way too early.
But to answer the question let's say 1 year for every vote for an unconstitutional law, & 1 year for every vote against a repeal of a constitutional law. So a life sentence in most cases.

5. What music do you listen to which would suprise people if they knew,
i.e. disco?

Yep - disco. Earth Wind & Fire did some technically impressive stuff. I listen to Funk as well as Light jazz, R&B (old & new), Country, Blues, Classical, Reggae & a few other genres. But perhaps the most surprising is Beach Music. No, not Jan & Dean. Beach Music. You know - music to Shag to. That good ol' beer drinking music. (even though I don't drink beer - I'm more partial to Bourbon, Amaretto & other fine spirits.) This probably comes from spending too many years playing in beach bands on the country club circuit in the south. It grows on ya after a while.

Thanks to Walter in Denver for taking the time to ask 5 questions.


1. Leave a comment, saying you want to be interviewed.
2. I will respond; I'll ask you five questions.
3. You'll update your blog with my five questions, and your five answers.
4. You'll include this explanation.
5. You'll ask other people five questions when they want to be interviewed.
The Denver Post has once again, through its editorial section, proven that it is of less value than a used roll of Charmin for any of your paper product needs.

They want to stop the "Wild West" bill that would allow people in Colorado to not have to beg for permission & pay fees to exercise a Right.

The bill is to be heard in a house committee next week.

"Rep. Greg Brophy's attempt to turn Colorado streets into the gun-slinging Old West will only jeopardize the rights of responsible gun owners."

The rest of the article goes along those same lines.

All I can really say is that when the revolution comes I hope those statist worshipping bastards at the Denver Post think their names will be on the list of friends of the people.

It's really just becoming too damn easy to fisk assholes such as those who hide behind the name of the editorial board of the Denver Post*. I just don't have the heart (well, time actually - I always have the heart to correct this kind of erroneous BS) to do it right now.

Tell ya what: any of y'all care to fisk this article send it to me & I'll post it here (depending upon quality of course). Just try to keep it clean.

Now one thing about this bill: it ain't just the idiocy at tyhe Denver Post we have to contend with. Odds are the NRA's state affiliate (The Colorado State Shooting Association) will oppose it as well. The reasons are long & complex but here's the simple version of the plan (This would apply concerning the bill to almost double the hunting & fishing license fees as well):

Write letters to the editor, talk to your neighbors, etc... but do something a bit more difficult. Instead of just threatening your congresscritter to note vote for him if he votes the wrong way, you have to call your por-gun org & tell them in no uncertain terms if they don't back up your Rights on these issues no amount of justification, excuses or other forms of BS will get you to continue being a member. Any org, & I don't care what their reputation is, that will oppose a Vermont-style CCW law &/or support jacking up hunting costs by over 66% is not an org whose association you'll miss in life.

The hard part is following through. If any org you belong to tries to back out, compromise, or generally seel you down the river for their own gain, leave the bastards. Resign your membership even if it expires next week, explain why, explain why yet again every time they call you asking for donations or membership renewal & most importantly tell them nothing will alter your disgust with them short of them delivering Vermont-style CCW & a decrease in hunting fees.

It's tough cause we not only have to fight the anti's, but we have to fight the groups that claim to be on our side. Hell, I'd feel better being backed by the French.

More on all of this as I can get to it.

* The names of those statist worshipping bastards on the editorial board of the Denver Post are:

William Dean Singleton, chairman and publisher;
Bob Ewegen, deputy editorial page editor;
Todd Engdahl, assistant editorial page editor;
Peter G. Chronis, Angela Cortez, Dan Haley and Penelope Purdy , editorial writers;
Mike Keefe, cartoonist;
Barbara Ellis, news editors;
Fred Brown and Barrie Hartman, associate members.

Please remember that the next time one of them walks into your space to do some business. Smile when you tell them to get the hell out cause you don't trade with vermin who'd have us all on all fours like common beasts. (feel fre to insert your own colloquialisms though).
Unfortunately I'm still pressed for time, but this post & the one that follows will be about virtually self fisking subjects.

First of all Sen. Feinstein has done the unthinkable; she's added a rider to the firearms manufacturers immunity bill. The rider, which can be viewed here, will make the "assault weapons" ban permanent, along with a provision banning the import of "high" capacity magazines. Now from what I understand the rider is not definitively attached, but it has 12 co-sponsors so far & odds are it'd get approved by the Senate.

No big surprise. The real question is will the NRA withdraw support from this bill if the rider isn't removed or will they compromise away our rights for another political feather in their cap?

Bug 'em about doing the right thing, & drop a dime to your senators as well. Least that way you can say you've tried.

But the way things are looking, the NRA will probably continue to support the bill despite the rider & try to make excuses to us about having a tough choice or that the AWB would have been renewed anyway.

Monday, February 02, 2004

If you're living in Colorado there's a couple of things that you should know about.

The first is that the Colorado Department of Wildlife wants to increase fees for resident hunting & fishing licenses. & they've convinced a legislator to introduce a bill in the house that would do just that. Initially they were going for a 100% increase of most fess, but realized that would tick off a lot of people, so they dropped it to a 66% increase for some fees in an amended form of the bill.

What's worse is that the premise for this is that the DOW feels that it's underselling its "resource" & thereby not making as much profit as possible. Now this is a fine thing for a private business dealing with privately owned property, but in effect they're saying that the government owns the wildlife & will charge what it wishes for it. It's been recommended to proceed to the House for a vote.

They're also a bill that would decriminalize unlicensed concealed carry. It seems to be similar to Alaska's recently passed law in that it would leave the permit system in place for those who wish to carry in states that honor Colorado's CCW permits but would not require a person to have a permit to carry concealed in Colorado. It's been assigned to the States, Veterans & Military Affairs committee of the House. Here's a summary of the bill from Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.

There are some other bills, such as one to get rid of the database of CCW holders & another to remove the SS# requirement for hunting & fishing licenses. You can find info on all the pertinent firearms related legislation here courtesy of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.

I'll try to have more on these a bit later on, but in the meantime call your Reps & Senators & make sure they know how you want them to vote on these bills.