The Gun Task Force of the Oregon State Police have a new strategy for tracking down criminals. They hope to use evolving technology to extract DNA evidence that was left guns. Theoretically, specialists should be able to extract DNA from the skin, sweat, or oils that are left behind on a gun’s trigger or grip.
The bureau hopes to secure a five-year $350,000 contract with Bode Technology Group Inc. of Virginia to help investigators collect DNA evidence.
Sgt. Cathe Kent, the supervisor of the task force, argued that the new technology is necessary because it’s so difficult to tell who pulled the trigger. When police arrest four drive-by shooting suspects and there is a single gun under one of the car seats, how can the prosecutor know which suspect pulled the trigger?
Kent explained, "A lot of these cases we can't make for felon-in-possession-of-a-weapon charges. Those are the cases where Touch DNA will be real valuable to us. In our eyes, these are people who are going to potentially shoot people or have shot people. We need to get these guns off the street and out of the hands, in particular, of felons."
This new technology could be a major tool in the fight against crime, but this evidence isn’t exactly a smoking gun, so to speak. All the DNA evidence will prove is that a person touched a gun or touched somebody who then touched a gun. Similarly, what if a gun owner legally sells a gun, and then police find the previous owner’s DNA on the gun?
Max Houck, director of the Department of Forensic Sciences in Washington, D.C., acknowledged, "Guns are very portable objects, so that's one of the concerns."
To complicate matters, there’s the issue of privacy. Gun rights and privacy rights often go hand-in-hand, so Oregon gun owners might bristle at the notion of state police tracking DNA evidence on guns.
What’s your take on this new technology? Do you think it’s a good thing that police agencies are getting more high-tech? Do you feel like extracting DNA from guns puts gun owners in an unfair position?