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The Supreme Court today decided a case involving Miranda. It is covered on the front page, but in short it involved the case of a double murder involving a shot gun.  The case is depressing enough in its result: a chipping away at Miranda (though in the instance pretty minor) but that is not the point I want to make.

Let's start with the facts as Adam put them:

Late December, 1992: double murder in a home, no witnesses. Police recover six shotgun shell casings at the scene. The investigation leads police to Salinas, who had been with the deceased at a party the night before, and who owned a car similar-ish to the one seen leaving the scene. Salinas agreed to hand over his shotgun for ballistics testing and to accompany police to the station for questioning. Heck, they told him they wanted to take some pictures of him and help clear him.
This isn't an usual set of facts - it happens with some frequency.

Ballistics in this case confirmed that the weapon in the defendant's possession is the murder weapon.   In any case where this occurs, obviously, solving the crime will turn critically on who used the gun.  Now in this case, the defendant had possession of the gun, but that doesn't prove he had the gun when the crime was committed.

Now let's imagine the facts of the case if the gun WAS registered by the defendant.  First, the prosecution would be able to show that it was in fact the defendant's gun that was used in murder.  A prosecutor would use the evidence in the same way they use the registration of a car in a vehicular homicide case (your car was seen hitting the victim)  Couple the gun registration with the fact of possession and you have pretty good evidence about who used the gun.

Is it conclusive? No more than the evidence of the registration of a car is proof that the owner was driving it when an accident occurred  But is it useful information - .absolutely.  Most cases don't turn on one piece of evidence - they are instead built on many different pieces of evidence that help establish the truth.

Today Miranda decision makes a pretty good case for gun registration.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I thought criminals didn't register their guns. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I mean isn't that the whole point of people opposing gun registration is that only the law abiding citizenry registers guns.

    "If the past sits in judgment on the present, the future will be lost." Winston Churchill

    by Kvetchnrelease on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 12:52:24 PM PDT

  •  Do we know that the gun was not registered? (2+ / 0-)

    Are ballistic examinations normally made at time of registration?

    I've never owned a gun, so I don't know myself- but I don't remember anybody mentioning a test-fire and ballistic fingerprint being taken when they registered a weapon. Without the fingerprint, how does this help?

    I gotta assume that a lot of folks who have shot somebody are NOT going to voluntarily bring the gun in for an exam.

    Honestly, I have NO IDEA how today's dismal decision on Miranda strengthens arguments for gun registration, OR how the facts in the case in question strengthen arguments for gun registration.

    Let's imagine that the defendant had NOT produced the weapon. So we know that he owns a similar shotgun. From an evidence point of view, that's pretty weak. I'll bet that at least one person on the local PD owns a similar shotgun.  

    Wouldn't even get ya a warrant to examine the gun, if that's all you've got. If you've got more, you don't need the registration.

    Seriously, how is this decision even applicable?

    •  Couple of points (2+ / 0-)

      Firstly, ballistic fingerprinting is not very useful...  As a gun is fired and cleaned the firing pin, breach face chamber and barrel change.  Its not very useful:

      In my state it costs 2.6 Million per conviction and the state police are critical of the system.  

      Some firearms like the G3 and derivatives have fluted chambers that mark the ejected brass.  Others like the Saiga have square as opposed to round firing pins.  They leave a different shaped indentation on the primer.  

      If bullets and ejected cartridges are collected from a crime scene, they can be used to determine the type of ammunition and possibly the ammunition lot.  If a gun is recovered and not cleaned the propellent residue could possibly be matched.  Additionally different guns will leave different marks on a cartridge due to the firearm's design.  

      Even without a registration scheme, most guns are sold through dealers and that leaves a record trail.  Private sales are not a large portion of total firearms transactions:  Those that are sold via private sale are still traceable to the last FFL transfer who can be the beginning point of an inquiry.  

      I'm a 4 Freedoms Democrat.

      by DavidMS on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 08:40:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm missing something in the logic (6+ / 0-)

    If guns were registered, how would that make a difference of any kind in this case?

    “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

    by Catte Nappe on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 01:17:03 PM PDT

  •  The defendant had the murder weapon in (0+ / 0-)

    his possession when interviewed by officers.  I'm not sure how the case would be any stronger if the government also had a registration for the gun as well...

    Frankly, I think the fact that he had the gun on his person after the crime was committed is much stronger than a registration.  It demonstrates that the gun wasn't stolen from him and used by someone else to commit the murder.  All a registration tells me is that, at some point in the past, he owned/controlled the weapon.  It won't hurt, but a gun registration wouldn't add much here - there was really no disputing that he owned the weapon AFAIK.  

  •  Shotgun ballistics? (3+ / 0-)
    Ballistics in this case confirmed that the weapon in the defendant's possession is the murder weapon.
    Huh? Say what?

    What was the basis of the testing?

    It's not like shotguns have barrel rifling to test, so what did they use... whether salinas had the same make/model of ammo at home as was left at the scene?

    Now get yourself a song to sing, and sing it till you're done.

    by JayFromPA on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 08:15:08 PM PDT

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