When California pioneered legislation seven years ago that required manufacturers to use “microstamping” technology in newly-made firearms, gun rights advocates widely criticized it as unfeasible, ineffective, and unreliable. At the time, it did seem that the law had to wait for technology to catch up, and the implementation of the Crime Gun Identification Act was put on hold. Last May, California Attorney General Kamala Harris drew the law out of dormancy when she announced both the resolution of lingering patent issues and the availability of the technology.

At the start of this year, both Smith & Wesson and Ruger stated that they will be not be modifying their production lines to comply with California’s microstamping requirement.

“Smith & Wesson does not and will not include microstamping in its firearms,” a statement from the company read. “A number of studies have indicated that microstamping is unreliable, serves no safety purpose, is cost prohibitive and, most importantly, is not proven to aid in preventing or solving crimes.”

Smith & Wesson concluded that because the company will not be adopting microstamping in their designs, California residents can expect to see fewer additions to the Smith & Wesson line in their state.

The Crime Gun Identification Act requires all new semiautomatic handguns be manufactured or equipped with microstamping technology. Also known as ballistic imprinting, microstamping works by imprinting a serial number onto cartridges when they are being fired, usually by an engraving on the firing pin. Supporters of the law say that these stamped cartridges will make it easier for police to trace evidence and identify shooters.

Opponents say that aside from microstamping technology being unproven and cost-prohibitive for manufacturers, the law also acts as a de facto ban against newly-manufactured semiautomatic pistols.

“It’s just not feasible for manufacturers to build micro-stamping into their manufacturing process,” attorney Chuck Michel told the San Francisco Chronicle. “As a result, the guns they’re improving are falling off the roster.”

Michel is the West Coast counsel for the National Rifle Association, and he explained that the law will eventually result in less new firearms for the state. This is because any new pistol without microstamping technology will be excluded from the California Roster of Handguns Certified for Sale. The roughly 1,200 firearms already on the roster will not be affected by the law, but any new semiautomatic handgun will have to meet the new requirements.

“California asserts that anything other than a cosmetic change to a handgun already on the California Roster of Handguns Certified for Sale, including performance enhancements and other improvements, requires it to be removed from the roster and retested,” Smith & Wesson stated. “For semi-automatic pistols, this means it must comply with the microstamping requirements, as well.”

Supporters of the law say that it is up to the manufacturers to decide if they want to continue doing business in California.

“Millions of guns are sold in California every year. If Smith & Wesson doesn’t want that money, another company will gladly take it,” Cody Jacobs, an attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, told the Chronicle.

Gun makers say it is more than just money, it is about constitutional rights.

“Until microstamping is repealed, we expect that Ruger pistols—some of the safest available—will continue to be forced off the Roster,” Ruger told Breitbart.

Fox News reported that two trade groups, the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute, have already filed a suit against the law earlier this month. However, California may not be the only state with a microstamping law for much longer. Lawmakers in New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut are also considering similar legislation.

Image from Parsecboy on the Wikimedia Commons

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14 thoughts on “California’s Microstamping Law Alienates Gun Makers

  1. I will be very much interested in what gun companies knuckle under to this blackmail. I certainly will never buy one of their guns and advise my sons not to as well.

  2. I’m sure all the criminals will fall right in line with this law just like they follow all the other laws (NOT!). With luck California will finally fall into the ocean like predicted. Now all we have to do is make sure we get all the gun control Zealots down to the beach.

  3. Microstamping won’t do crap to help the police. It will cause more headaches because the criminals use STOLEN guns and they know that the serial number will lead back to the original owner that they stole it from. Even if you reported it stolen. What is going to stop the police from knocking down your door and arresting you? Plus, if you go to the range to blow of some steam and shoot a bunch of rounds and don’t pick up the casings somebody could come in behind you and pick them up and salt a crime scene with them.

  4. No mention of the single-shot conversion program? Looks like the big gun manufacturers are putting their energy toward playing politics instead of meeting the needs of the CA consumers.

  5. What I want to see is a list of manufacturers who are committed to supporting micro-stamping — so I can never buy one of their firearms again.

    1. If you find that list, let me know. I’ll not only stop buying their product, but I’ll make it my personal mission to tell everyone I know that the compliant manufacturers product is crap.

  6. Are the current technologies putting the microstamping on the chamber or striker/pin or both? Either part is easily modified or replaced.

  7. I will personally help make up double the difference in lost revenue by buying an amount from both of these manufacturers equivalent to what two regular California firearms purchasers would buy within a calendar year. Still waiting for all of CA to slide into the ocean and take all its asinine laws and regulations with it.

  8. ““Millions of guns are sold in California every year. If Smith & Wesson doesn’t want that money, another company will gladly take it,” Cody Jacobs, an attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, told the Chronicle.”
    You sound like the NY politician who stood up in Albany last year saying that gun dealers would gladly take $10 for transfers of private firearms, forgetting that just a few years prior his same group of politicians passed a law dictating that a lock had to be made available by the dealer with each transfer and that the requirements for acceptable locks was so stringent that the cheapest locks that met the standard were…yup, about $10.
    CA LEOs are exempt from micro-stamping, so of course LE will continue to get guns in CA even if the populace can’t.
    Jacobs and guys like him need to move to places like England if the thought of guns in the hands of the general population make them so nervous and want to piss their pants……

  9. The liberal progessives are carrying out this ‘anti gun’ dog and pony show not to achieve gun control but to TOTALLY DISARM THE PUBLIC. It has always been about COMMAND and CONTROL of the public. The first thing government to control their people is to disarm them.

    It is really about POWER and CONTROL of YOU!!

    Be aware of the the scam the power crazed liberals be carry act!

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