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Imagine if every bullet came with a self-addressed stamped envelope. Soon enough, each shell casing will chronicle its origin with an ID number unique to the weapon that fired it. The code will be etched on the casing by the firing pin in the instant that the trigger is pulled. This would eliminate the educated guesswork involved in matching a shell casing to a particular weapon.
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Willie Jones is an associate editor at IEEE Spectrum. In addition to editing and planning daily coverage, he manages several of Spectrum's newsletters and contributes regularly to the monthly Big Picture section that appears in the print edition.