WASHINGTON – President Bush is receiving daily briefings on a Washington-area sniper as part of his national security review every morning, but he has not changed his mind on gun control laws nor does he support firearm "fingerprinting."
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Tuesday that "fingerprinting," a process in which ballistics samples from individual firearms would be put in a federal database to match a gun owner with a gun, is unreliable and inaccurate.
"There are some issues that are raised with this that deal with the accuracy of the ballistic fingerprinting that need to be explored and reviewed before any final determination can be made," Fleischer said.
The president also questions the need for new gun laws in general, Fleischer added.
"How many laws can we really have to stop crime if people are determined in their heart to violate them no matter how many there are or what they say?" he asked.
The issue has come up for discussion in recent days since the Beltway Sniper began picking off area residents 13 days ago.
Nine of the sniper's 11 victims have died, the latest of whom was a 47-year-old woman who worked for the FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center. She was loading packages into her car with her husband outside of a Home Depot when she was struck down with a single shot to the head.
Two victims, including a 13-year-old boy, have been seriously wounded.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has run the ballistics tests after each shooting and matched all 11 sniper shots. Bush has ordered FBI director Robert Mueller to make available to local police both profilers to study the case and agents to follow leads. About 250 federal agents are working to some extent on the investigation.
On Tuesday, Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge said the Bush administration has not "foreclosed" the idea that the sniper might be doing this to achieve some political result.
Ridge, who was at the White House to discuss strategies for congressional passage of a homeland security bill, said that there is no evidence to indicate that the terrorism affecting the Washington area is in any way related to international politics or terrorism.
"Someone asked me the other day if it's a terrorist attack. And I think the families believe it is. The community is terrorized. Whether or not it may fall in a more limited definition of an attack predicated upon or in an attempt to achieve some political result remains to be seen," Ridge said.
"I think it would be premature to draw any conclusions until we get all the facts and ultimately apprehend the individual or individuals responsible," he added.
Fleischer said that the president believes that the sniper "is a murderer and is not deterred by law" but remains concerned that opening a national database of ballistics markings is one step away from fingerprinting Americans, whether or not they are suspected of committing a crime.
New York and Maryland both require ballistics data on handguns made and sold in those states. However, the sniper is using a long-range rifle that is not required to be "fingerprinted" under current law.
The president, Fleischer said, "believes very much in enforcing the [existing] law."
Fox News' Wendell Goler and The Associated Press contributed to this report.