This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

Putting a Fingerprint on Every Bullet

Stocks in this article: SWHC

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Headline-grabbing tragedies like the shooting in Santa Monica last weekend, or last year's shootings in Newtown, Conn. and Aurora, Colo., are only the most visible evidence of the gun love that ends lives everywhere in the U.S. on a daily basis.

While I don't mean to diminish the impact of Santa Monica, individual gun killings occur frequently and escape national attention. In 2010, according to Center for Disease Control statistics, there were over 31,000 deaths by firearm in the U.S. Of those, 11,000 were homicides. Mass shootings, as horrible as they are, account for less than 1% of that grim tally even in a year like last year, which saw, by the Washington Post's reckoning, 94 deaths in mass shootings. Yet each of those 31,000 deaths is just as significant, in that it represents a real community of family and friends, grieving over a future cut short.

Mass killings with a gun typically involve a shooter who is mentally ill and using a weapon under legal ownership, belonging either to the shooter or a member of his family or a friend. A great deal of conversation is happening now regarding that very specific set of circumstances. Remedies proposed include instituting bans on assault weapons, increasing background checks, more systematic identification and treatment of the mentally ill.

That conversation is important and the solutions proposed need to be weighed on their merits. But none of them would affect the broader category of gun homicides.

That's because because most gun crimes are committed with illegal guns. Those guns are typically acquired through straw buyers and handed off to the actual shooter after the serial number has been scraped off.

In this category, there are concrete measures that can be taken, without making any weapon illegal, to reduce the practice of straw buying and thus the number of gun deaths.

The most obvious is a relatively new technology called "microstamping." This etches a microscopic code on the firing pin of a gun. That code is then imprinted onto each bullet fired, leaving a trace that can lead investigators back to the original purchaser. Advocates say the technology would not affect gun ownership and go a long way to discouraging straw buyers.

Currently, guns come with a serial number etched onto the outside of the gun. Here's a picture of a Stallard 9 mm semiautomatic pistol retrieved by investigators. The photo comes courtesy of the public information officer at a New Jersey office of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

The serial number here has been obliterated, probably ground off with an electric drill. Easy to do and takes only a few minutes. Once removed, that gun can be sold for cash to anyone. The ATF office assured me that unless the owner does a sloppy job of removing the serial number, it is impossible to trace the history of the weapon.

1 of 2

Select the service that is right for you!

Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!


DOW 18,030.21 +6.04 0.03%
S&P 500 2,081.88 -0.29 -0.01%
NASDAQ 4,773.4720 +8.0480 0.17%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs