The only reason that I am posting this is that there may be some small chance that there are others who are going through the same thought process that I did.
As most of us know, the CHP law grants localities the authority to require by statute that fingerprints must be submitted with one's first CHP application. It has been published that only about 30% of the localities in Virginia have enacted this requirement. It has been an ongoing effort by the RKBA movement to encourage localities to not require fingerprints, as well as to remove the option at the state level.
With the passage of HB 754 and SB 67 in their respective houses, it appears that the repeal of the fingerprint requirement will be headed to the Governor's desk for signature. I don't know if he has indicated whether or not he intends to sign these bills into law.
Here's the confession: I've always been on the fence about this. You may gasp if you wish.
There is a very good reason for this, namely, that I did not fully understand the role of the fingerprints in the CHP application process.
In my hometown of Fredericksburg, a serial burglar was recently arrested for a series of crimes dating back to September 2011. The City Manager's report indicated that by running the suspect's prints through the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), they were able to connect him to another series of burglaries dating back to Thanksgiving 2010. This identification was made using fingerprints from those earlier crime scenes that had been entered into the "unknown data base of latent impressions" portion of AFIS.
With this recent event in the news, I took the opportunity to correspond with a detective in the local Fredericksburg Police Department on the role that fingerprints play in the CHP process.
What I Used to Think
The concern I had was this: What if Mr. Smart Criminal had committed several or many crimes during which he left latent prints, but had thus far, managed to keep himself from getting caught, and also kept his fingerprints out of "the system", for other purposes such as a security clearance, or in some locations, applying for a CHP. Perhaps Mr. Criminal does not even realize that his latent prints are sitting in AFIS waiting for some day to find a match.
Then Mr. Criminal decides he wants to get a CHP, because after all, he has no record, there should be no reason to deny him one.
My thoughts were that if Mr. Criminal submitted his CHP application with his prints, then boom, AFIS would flag them and Mr. Police Officer would be paying Mr. Criminal a visit to talk things over...
What I Know Now
After my correspondence with the local Detective, I discovered that my thoughts on the role of prints in the CHP process were wrong. I was assured that the "ten prints" used for a CHP application are compared only to the database of known criminals, those who have prior records, and not against the "unknown data base of latent impressions."
I suppose we can debate the wisdom in this, and perhaps the Fourth Amendment implications and statute authority to use or not use that data base, but what I have obviously concluded is this: In this day and age of computer records and the fact that nearly everyone is already "on the grid", the need for fingerprints solely to establish one's identity and prior criminal record is practically none.
At that point, the requirement to submit fingerprints becomes merely an obstacle to RKBA, with no value added, and thus, should be discontinued.
The one valid reason I could think of for submitting prints with a CHP application turns out to not be in play at all.
Hopefully the Governor will sign the bills and this issue disappears for good on July 1, 2012.
Thanks for reading.