Today, the West Virginia State Senate passed Senate Bill 155, The Violent Crime Prevention Act, requiring firearms shell casings be processed in the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN). The bill would make West Virginia only the fourth state in the nation to adopt NIBIN in addressing violent crime. Passage of Senate Bill 155 significantly strengthens officer safety and is an effort to combat growing violent crime across West Virginia. Senator Mike Stuart, 7th District and candidate for West Virginia Attorney General, is the lead sponsor.
“Only three days into the 60 day Legislative Session and we are already taking historic action to combat violent crime. As lead sponsor on this critical bill, I am proud of the overwhelming and bipartisan support by the State Senate for passage of a law that will immediately improve the safety of our law enforcement officers nationwide while making West Virginia a national leader in solving violent crimes,” said State Senator Mike Stuart. “This is an important bill that distinguishes West Virginia nationwide by making it clear we will not tolerate violent crime. As a former United States Attorney, I have a first-hand understanding of ways we can effectively attack criminals and crime. This bill is a bold action to fight violent crime and protect law enforcement and the public from the chaos and misery of being victims of crime.”
The National Crime Information Center (NCIC) is the United States’ central database for tracking crime-related information. The NCIC has been an information sharing tool since 1967. It is maintained by the Criminal Justice Information Services Division (CJIS) of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and is interlinked with federal, tribal, state, and local agencies and offices.
The NIBIN Program automates ballistics evaluations and provides actionable investigative leads in a timely manner. NIBIN is the only interstate automated ballistic imaging network in operation in the United States. To use NIBIN, firearms examiners or technicians enter cartridge casing evidence into the Integrated Ballistic Identification System. These images are correlated against the database. Law enforcement can search against evidence from their jurisdiction, neighboring ones, and others across the country. This program is one investigative tool accessed by law enforcement that allows each of us to share information and cooperation easily making all of us more effective in closing cases. The database contains millions of high-resolution images of shell casings police have collected from crime scenes or test-fired from guns used in crimes nationwide since 1999. The software reads unique markings left on shell casings and then flags potential matches, signaling when the same gun may have been used in more than one shooting.
“With the passage of this bill, trigger pullers, drug dealers and violent criminals from Detroit to Akron to Los Angeles to Charleston should take note that West Virginia intends to aggressively combat violent crime in our communities. This bill will help solve crimes not only here in West Virginia but across the nation,” said Stuart.
“I am hopeful that this important bill will be immediately taken up and passed by the House,” said Stuart. “West Virginia will be only the fourth state in the nation to require shell casings be processed in NIBIN. West Virginia will be a national leader in solving crimes, protecting our families, and protecting our law enforcement officers.”
Stuart was the West Virginia Co-Chair of President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and is a former United States Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia where he led the historic prosecution of justices of the West Virginia State Supreme Court of Appeals as well as a record prosecutions and raids related to the opiate crisis. Stuart led the largest takedown in West Virginia history in what was called “Operation Saigon Sunset,” in which nearly 100 individuals were targeted from Huntington to Detroit.
“As a former United States Attorney, I will always do all I can to ensure the safety of our citizens and protect first responders and law enforcement. This is one of many bills I will be sponsoring this session to address crime and safety,” said Stuart. “I have a long record of prosecuting violent crime and criminals and as the next Attorney General of this great state, I will always make protecting our citizens my greatest priority.”
Stuart has indicated he will file to be a candidate for West Virginia Attorney General in the coming weeks.