OLR BILL ANALYSIS

HB 5096

AN ACT CONCERNING THE FIREARMS EVIDENCE DATABANK.

SUMMARY:

This bill makes changes in the laws pertaining to the state's firearms evidence databank, which is a computerized system that stores discharged ammunition from handguns (pistols and revolvers) submitted to the state forensic science laboratory.

Among other things, the bill (1) eliminates the mandate for entering all ballistic data as defined in the law and instead gives personnel discretion in data entry and (2) eliminates the 60-day deadline for testing and inputting ballistic data on guns submitted to the laboratory.

The bill makes technical and conforming changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2012

FIREARMS EVIDENCE DATABANK

Definition

Under current law, the databank is a computer-based system that scans and stores images of handgun “test fires. ” The bill renames “test fires” as “fired components of ammunition” and makes conforming changes to reflect the new label.

“Fired components of ammunition,” currently referred to as “test fire,” means discharged ammunition consisting of a cartridge case or a bullet fragment, collected after a handgun is fired and containing sufficient microscopical characteristics to compare to other discharged ammunition or to determine the handgun from which the ammunition was fired.

Data Input

The bill allows, rather than requires, DESPP forensic science laboratory personnel to enter evidence of fired components of ammunition into the databank.

Subjects of and Deadline for Test Fires

Under current law, police departments must submit to the laboratory any handguns in their custody that were found, ordered destroyed by a court, or pertain to a criminal investigation before returning or destroying them. The bill eliminates the requirement to submit guns that were found or ordered destroyed.

Under current law, the laboratory must collect a test fire from each handgun submitted within 60 days of submission. The bill eliminates this deadline.

Department-Issued Firearms

By law, police departments must collect a test fire from all handguns they issue to their employees. Under current law, they must submit two intact cartridges of the same type of ammunition used for the test fire. The bill instead requires them to submit two cartridges that are representative samples of the ammunition the department uses in its service handguns.

BACKGROUND

Firearm Discharge

When a firearm is discharged, it leaves unique markings on the bullets and shell casings. The bullets and shell casings are ballistic data. Ballistic identification systems make it possible to link bullets and shell casings recovered at crime scenes. They can identify the make, model, and serial number of the gun that fired a bullet.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Public Safety and Security Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

23

Nay

0

(03/15/2012)