concepts have been proposed that may overcome some of the safety and compatibility concerns raised by the 3M-type taggant currently used in Switzerland, thorough studies have not been performed on the use of any of these proposed taggants in black and smokeless powders.
RECOMMENDATION: Identification taggants in black and smokeless powder should not be implemented at the present time.
Institution of a taggant program with its associated record-keeping system would incur significant costs. At the current threat level of fewer than 10 deaths and 100 injuries per year and very few terrorist incidents, the committee believes that benefits are not sufficient to justify a tagging program. If the threat increased substantially in the future, and test data were available, benefits might exceed costs, and a tagging program might be warranted.
A taggant program for black and smokeless powders would be justified only if three criteria were met: the frequency and severity of black and smokeless powder bombings were found to be high enough to justify tagging, the taggants first were thoroughly tested and found to be safe and effective under conditions likely to be encountered in the legal and illegal uses of the powders, and the benefits to society of taggants were found to outweigh the costs of their use. Since no tagging system has been fully tested to demonstrate its technical feasibility, it is not practicable to tag at this time.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Research should be conducted to develop and test taggants that would be technically suitable for inclusion in black and smokeless powders should future circumstances warrant their use.
Although the committee believes that the current level of bombings using black and smokeless powders does not warrant the use of taggant technology, the situation could change for the worse in the future. If policymakers decide that the level and type of bombings require action to increase the tools available to help the investigators of bombing incidents, more needs to be known about what technologies would be helpful. Research needs to focus on discovering and testing taggant concepts in the context of the ideal taggant criteria described by the committee in Chapter 3 and in the context of the capabilities of the forensic community to identify untagged powders. The development and use of a comprehensive database of powder characteristics would help clarify the current scientific capabilities for the identification of untagged powders and focus attention on situations in which increased information from powder mixed with taggants would be helpful.
RECOMMENDATION: If the type or number of bombing incidents involving black and smokeless powders increases in a way that leads policymakers