Gun Laws & Legislation
File-In this Thursday, July 26, 2012 file photo an AR-15 style rifle is displayed at the Firing-Line indoor range and gun shop, in Aurora, Colo. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File) File-In this Thursday, July 26, 2012 file photo an AR-15 style rifle is displayed at the Firing-Line indoor range and gun shop, in Aurora, Colo. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)  

Police forensic scientist at Newtown hearing: ‘Assault weapons’ ban won’t work

Photo of Patrick Howley
Patrick Howley
Political Reporter

The forensic scientist for the Bridgeport, Conn. Police Department sharply criticized proposed assault weapon and high-capacity magazine bans and pointed out the small number of crimes committed by high-capacity weapons in public hearing testimony last week.

Marshall K. Robinson, who said his area of expertise is “firearm and tool mark identification,” testified at the Gun Violence Prevention Working Group, which was convened at the Connecticut State Capitol in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. There he opposed statements from many of the other 1,300 speakers in attendance advocating for banning high-capacity AR-15 and AK-47 firearms.

Robinson pointed out that less than two percent of the firearms he has examined since 1996 that have been linked to violent crime in Bridgeport have been the caliber of AR-15 or AK-47 weapons.

“Since November 1996, I have examined approximately 2,370 firearms. Of that number 36 of them were either .223/5.56 mm or 7.62×39 mm,” Robinson said. “The percentage of those guns was about [1.5 percent].”

“I did further research on homicides and assaults in the years 2006 to 2012 inclusive. Of the 217 such cases, there were 912 bullets and 466 cartridge cases recovered. One assault involved .223 caliber and none involved 7.63×39 mm caliber. The largest number cartridge cases recovered in one case was 37 and that involved two guns. The investigations that involved the recovery of eleven or more cartridge cases was 22. Of the 22 cases, 21 involved 2 or more guns,” Robinson added.

Robinson went on to criticize past gun control measures and argued that new proposals will not work to reduce violent crime in any meaningful way.

“These are real numbers from real cases in a real city police department. This is not something made up or fabricated. High capacity magazines have been ‘banned’ before. It proved nothing and the ban was lifted a few years ago,” he said. “There are many guns in existence, since the 1860s, which hold more than 10 cartridges, the early Winchester lever action rifles, for example, and many tubefeed 22 caliber rifles. There are some modern firearms for which no other magazine exist. What do you propose we do with them?”

“In your infinite wisdom, you outlawed bayonet lugs, flash hiders, and collapsible stocks,” he testified. “In over forty years of being a firearm and tool mark examiner, I have never seen these components inflict any injury whatsoever on any person. In your infinite wisdom, you outlawed fully automatic firearms that have the capability of firing a single shot. Ladies and gentlemen, I really need help with that one.”

“We all agree that the Newtown case is a tragedy. I submit to you that you cannot legislate away insanity, which I think is the root cause of this case,” Robinson said. “Laws must be passed based on research and logical thinking, not on emotions.”

Robinson also works at the state police forensic lab in Meriden, Conn.

Marshall K. Robinson testimony by

Follow Patrick on Twitter