CoBIS no longer the law of <i>this</i> land

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

CoBIS no longer the law of this land

While the acronym is almost certainly unfamiliar to any who are not handgun licensees in New York State, CoBIS (Combined Ballistic Identification System) is a procedure required of all new pistol and revolvers entering the state on or after March 1, 2001.

And "all" includes those service sidearms issued to law enforcement department and agencies... police officers don't get a pass on this one!

CoBIS is a system wherein the shell casing from a fired round is supplied by a firearms manufacturer in a properly completed and sealed approved container (a #5 kraft coin envelope) accompanying a new handgun.

When the handgun is sold, that kraft envelope, seal intact, is forwarded to the New York State Police Headquarters in Albany along with the required documents showing from where the firearm originated, and the information about the handgun licensee who acquired it.

Theoretically, spent bullet casings recovered from a New York State1 crime scene could, using the CoBIS system, trace back to the handgun, its registered owner, and perhaps the person who fired it at the crime scene.

(This, of course, presupposes that the miscreant was using a semi-automatic pistol which ejects its fired cases... a revolver2 doesn't function in that manner.)

Since the legislation enabling CoBIS was signed into law by Governor George Pataki and took effect on March 1, 2001, it has cost taxpayers, including start-up costs and annual funding, in excess of $48 million... and has never been used in a successful criminal prosecution.

Now here's the ironic part:

In 1985 Governor Mario Cuomo, in response to a large number of letters received in opposition to NY's mandatory seatbelt law, dismissed the writers as...

"NRA hunters who drink beer, don't vote, and lie to their wives about where they were all weekend."

Now that's a funny line... unless one is a hunter... but something of a non sequitur since the issue was seatbelts, not hunting or firearms ownership.

The Governor subsequently tried to distance himself from the comment, explaining on his weekly radio broadcast that his "bantering quote" and had been "heard out of context," but acknowledging that had been "perhaps not so artfully said."

But it for all time positioned papa Cuomo as the enemy of hunters, NRA members and firearms owner in general.

He got re-elected in 1986 and 1990, but with a strong Republican candidate challenging in 1994, and the main issue being Cuomo's opposition to the Death Penalty, George Pataki won in a walk.

Cut to 2000 when Governor Pataki, who firearms owners favored over Cuomo, proposed and signed into law a series of onerous firearms measures, including CoBIS which went into effect March 1, 2001.

Meanwhile, Mario Cuomo's eldest son Andrew was making a resputation for himself as President Clinton's Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, during which time he aggressively forced gun-maker Smith & Wesson into a calamitous agreement.

This act alone established Andy Cuomo as a enemy to firearms owners.

Yet as Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo proposed removing CoBIS from the 2012 Budget, albeit as a cost-cutting measure, and when the NYS Legislature sent A-9055D/S-6255D containing the defunding of the 11+year old CoBIS program, to his office for his signature Friday morning, he signed it.

The Governor's press statement on the end of CoBIS:

"We are ending a program that doesn't solve crimes or make our streets safe."

And that's the irony: firearms owners are cheering because Andy Cuomo has killed a measure enacted by Pataki, the guy they couldn't wait to elect to get rid of Mario Cuomo who never did anything against their interests other than make an amusing wise crack about hunters!

  1. The State of Maryland has had a similar system in place, IBIS, for even longer, and it too has never been used in a single successful criminal prosecution.
  2. Or at least 99 and 44/100% of them don't.


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