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Articles in the news this morning talk about the abilities and difficulties of using bomb forensics to trace the origin of the materials in the two explosive devices detonated in Boston.

There is technology that has been available for at least 30 years (I know because my wife worked on this issue for the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee many years ago) that would make the tracing of the material much easier.

It’s called “taggants”, and, as I understand it, it is simple. Materials that ‘tag’ the source of explosives (where the explosives were made, sold?) can easily be added to materials that are used in bomb making. Our Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms has wanted to require this at least since the late 70s early 80s.

Repeatedly, the NRA has fought this legislation and defeated it. Something about ‘the camels nose in the tent’. Our Congress has caved every time.

Let’s try again.

Two ways to do this.

We could add taggant requirements to the current discussion and legislation about gun control, using the latest tragedy to highlight the issue. Perhaps our legislators would understand it is a reasonable and useful way to help our law enforcement experts trace and find the perpetrators of such horrors.

Or, if the NRA is too strong and our legislators too intimated, perhaps we could take a page from the lobbyists’ handbook and have a congressional staff or an ‘anonymous’ congressperson slip it (at the last moment) into whatever form of legislation does pass.

How can we not do this?

(Update 4/18/13: See an article I just saw posted – How the Gun Lobby Has Already Blocked Boston’s Bombing Investigations – speaks to this very issue.)