7 News Belize

Gun Marking Technology Brought To Belize
posted (August 9, 2011)
The bullet casing that we showed you in that story - in an ideal world - could be traced in an international ballistics database, and the gun could be linked to an owner, or a manufacturer, or some point of origin.

Such a system does not presently exist - but it's a major priority of the United States, the OAS and the United nations who are all working on different components of such a system.

The OAS and the US did their part in Belize with the handover of firearms marking equipment to the Police Department.

We found out how it works and what it means:

Jules Vasquez Reporting:

Crispin Jeffries - Commissioner of Police
"Today marks the begining of yet another era, in the way we handle firearms in Belize."

Well maybe not a new era, but at least a nifty new device.

This is how gun marking is done. The imprint that will appear on the gun comes from this computer. BZ typed here in any font, any size turns into BZ emblazoned on the gun.

It is a donation from the OAS, part of a regional gun marking program.

Florencia Raskovan - Specialist From The Department Of Public Security, OAS
"The whole purpose of having this is to be able to trace a weapon when it's involved in a crime. So once you recover the weapon, you're able to trace it back to the last legitimate owner. So that helps the law enforcement authorities to solve crimes, and also identify the trafficking routes."

Jules Vasquez
"So ideally, all guns that are renewed should be mark?"

Florencia Raskovan
"Yes, ideally, every weapon should be marked."

But in Belize, they are not about to mark all guns - initially the programme will target guns that are confiscated:

Crispin Jeffries - Commissioner of Police
"Jules, the law isn't there for us to mark every firearm in Belize. That is something that a firearm is a person's personal property. However, there is in fact model legislations that have been shared with us, and we'd have to make amendments to our legislation. It would be the ideal situation to have every firearm in Belize marked with an acronym, serial, or a code to say that this is a firearmed that is licensed in Belize. And that is where we want to go. This machine - at this time, it is not intended to mark new weapons, it is intended to mark weapons confiscated by the Police."

Eventually though, they will move to a more expansive or a more inclusive system:

Crispin Jeffries - Commissioner of Police
"There's a ballistic information equipment that we are in the process of acquiring. Once we acquire that, then we will able to move the current legislation to another level, where we will have a database of control samples. And then we'll be able to attach these numbers, and if we have amended the legislation to mark the firearm, then we'll be able ot trast a firearm to license - holder, to a shell, to a slug."

The donation is part of a wider OAS project called "Promoting Firearms Marking in Latin America and the Caribbean."

A few important notes, the marking are difficult to file off - more so than serial numbers - and even if they are filed down, their imprints can be recovered by chemicals.

Also, 13 countries in this hemisphere have signed the agreement and received equipment.

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