There are at least two sides to every issue. Our democracy is built on the rule of law.
We resolve differences of opinion through dialogue and debate. Disagreement is inevitable. Violence is not. Here are some differing points of view on laws currently being discussed.
A ballistics fingerprinting database can help catch criminals and save lives. There’s no invasion of privacy gun sales records are already required and used by authorities. As the database grows, more crimes will be solved.
Yes, guns are stolen, and those already in private hands would not be in the database according to a prominent Phoenix DUI lawyer. But the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has found that most crime guns were not stolen, and were purchased new only three to five years earlier. A criminal attorney in Arizona also said a gun’s fingerprint can change or be altered, but the ATF found that not one image in their database was sufficiently altered to prevent identification. Even if alterable, it’s worth implementing. No one suggests police stop dusting for human fingerprints because criminals can wear gloves. Today, ballistics fingerprinting is far from fool- proof. A gun’s “fingerprint” changes over time, and criminals could easily alter key gun components to thwart the database, making the bullet an unreliable witness.
Existing programs in New York and Maryland failed to lead to a single conviction. California ballistics experts concluded it was impractical. 200 million guns are already in private hands; neither those nor guns obtained illegally would be tracked. The proposals are “big government” solutions that would intrude on individual rights. The notion that the government should collect data on every gun manufactured is like having every U.S. citizen fingerprinted to catch a few criminals. More information is available at
The government has announced the creation of the TIPS program, a national system for concerned. Americans to report to law enforcement official’s suspicious activity that could be related to terrorism. Terrorism threatens our way of life and must be stopped. Operation TIPS provides an essential way for American workers in appropriate industries, such as truckers and others involved in transportation, to assist overburdened law enforcement agencies in detecting, preventing, and disrupting terrorist activity.
This is a voluntary program, involving the reporting of only publicly observable activities that would supplement block/neighborhood watch programs, which have been in place for many years without abuse or opposition. A national system for receiving tips on possible terrorists would allow law enforcement officials to “connect the dots” and take quick and appropriate action on potentially terrorist-related incidents that are occurring simultaneously.
Operation TIPS would create a community of snoops like those in Iron Curtain countries during the Cold War, with little gain for our safety. Basic civil liberties will be undermined by creating a national database of unreliable reports and allegations accessible by a variety of government agencies. Since Government officials admit that most tips will wash out, why needlessly invade the privacy of law-abiding citizens and divert attention from potentially more productive investigations? Officials admit that many terrorist activities are indistinguishable from every day, lawful activities. Therefore, the TIPS program may simply result in fostering ethnic or religious scapegoating and nothing more.
Electronic surveillance, including video technology and face recognition systems, can protect innocent lives by helping law enforcement officials detect, investigate, prosecute and prevent crime. It can improve national security by allowing us to check the identity of suspicious persons and suspected terrorists before they get on airplanes. Today, terrorists and other criminals can board flights in the U.S. using false names and fake IDs. The inconvenience of video surveillance during a war on terrorism is certainly a small price to pay for the safety of thousands of people. And the use of passive electronic surveillance systems in certain very public buildings violates no Fourth Amendment principles because they don’t require that people be stopped and searched.
Even though the courts have ruled that various video surveillance techniques don’t violate the Fourth Amendment, these intrusive techniques raise serious issues of privacy and accountability. They should be stringently controlled. Moreover, the idea that electronic surveillance always makes us safer is a myth. Experts have demonstrated that face recognition technology is less accurate than a coin toss and is easily evaded by terrorists. Electronic surveillance is also dangerous because it can be used…and has been used in the past…to spy illegally on American citizens. Civil rights are as vital to our democracy in times of war as in times of peace. They should not be discarded just because we have been attacked by terrorists.
Also see Democracys Call