State Senate Enacts Senator Nozzolio’s Legislation to Discontinue Expensive, Ineffective Ballistics Database

Michael F. Nozzolio

June 14, 2011

The New York State Senate has adopted legislation authored and introduced by State Senator Mike Nozzolio (S.459) that will save taxpayers $4 million per year by eliminating the New York Combined Ballistic Identification System (CoBIS), a tracking system for ammunition that has failed to solve a single gun crime since it was implemented 10 years ago.

“The CoBIS program is complicated, expensive to administer, and ineffective. At a time when our State must examine every taxpayer dollar it spends to see where savings can be made, it is unconscionable that millions of dollars continue to be wasted every year on a program that doesn’t work and has never worked,” said Senator Nozzolio. “It is a certainty that the State Police could find a better use for those millions and I am pleased that my Senate colleagues have joined me in supporting the removal of the CoBIS system.”

The CoBIS system requires the markings each new handgun makes on shell casings to be recorded and entered into a digital database. Since the program was implemented in 2001, the State Police Department has diverted millions of dollars and countless man hours to the time-consuming process of testing over 317,000 handguns and filing away images of their shell casings.

Studies by the California Department of Justice and the Maryland State Police, two states that have also implemented ballistic database systems, have concluded that these systems are a waste of time, money and manpower. The Maryland report cited the complete failure of the New York CoBIS to produce a single "hit" on a gun crime as an example of the ineffectiveness of the system.

“The CoBIS system has completely failed to deter any criminal activity in New York State and only serves to burden responsible gun owners who already comply with the law. As the primary sponsor of this legislation, I encourage the members of the State Assembly to join the Senate in ending this irresponsible waste of our taxpayer’s money.”