THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING
A false choice | Globe Editorial

Gun making vs. gun control

August 28, 2011

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Your article has been sent.

Text size +

NEW ENGLAND has a centuries-old tradition of both gun manufacturing and gun control. It shouldn’t have to pick between the two. However, at least one manufacturer is trying to force the matter. Proposals to require that guns be made suitable for micro-stamping, a technology which would allow shell casings to be traced back to the exact gun they were fired from, have been introduced in the Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts legislatures. These have drawn significant criticism from gun manufacturers, at least one of which, Colt, is threatening to move out of New England if such legislation is adopted.

It’s questionable how effective micro-stamping would be. The legislation would require firing pins on new makes of handguns to leave microscopic impressions of the gun’s serial number on each casing. Criminals could tamper with the firing pin to prevent impressions from being made or even leave used casings from other guns at crime scenes to cause confusion. Nonetheless, it might still provide useful clues in some cases. But this is a balancing decision that should be left to the legislatures, not gunmakers.

While firearms manufacturers have a right to lobby against this legislation and explain their objections to it, it is inappropriate to wield the jobs of hundreds of workers as a weapon. Micro-stamping does not place any significant burden on the sale or manufacture of guns. It is not a ban or an arduous tax. It merely requires the engraving of a serial number in one more place on the weapon. If a state legislature decides micro-stamping is appropriate, it should not be forced to choose between citizens’ lives and citizens’ livelihood.

Massachusetts has had gun-control laws for almost three centuries, and the Connecticut River Valley has been a center of gun-making since George Washington established an armory in Springfield. There is no reason that both gun control and gun manufacturing cannot co-exist for the next few centuries as well.