January 6th, 2010

California Microstamping Law Status — DOA for Now

California Microstamping lawA new California law requiring that all new semi-auto handguns sold in California incorporate microstamping technology was to go into effect on January 1st, 2010. Many readers are concerned that this law will make it illegal to purchase new, self-loading handguns in California. However, because the law mandated technology which, thus far, has NOT been made available to pistol manufacturers, the law is NOT being applied for now. This was the case of misguided legislators passing a gun law requiring technology that didn’t really exist.

The NSSF reports: “Firearms microstamping, signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.) in October 2007 and slated to take effect New Year’s Day (2010), is not in effect since the technology remains encumbered by patents.” Microstamping is the process by which firearms manufacturers must micro-laser-engrave a gun’s make, model and serial number on two distinct parts of each gun, including the firing pin, so that, in theory, this data is imprinted on the cartridge casing when the pistol is fired. By its terms, the microstamping law required that the technology be “patent-free” (as determined by the California Department of Justice) before the law could go into effect.

The one company which has pioneered micro-stamping technology for pistols has NOT released its patents. Hence, by its own terms, California’s micro-stamping law is “dead on arrival”. However, last month the California Department of Justice nonetheless proposed new microstamping regulations, a move that was questioned by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) — the trade association for the firearms industry.

“In the midst of California’s budget crisis and despite the possibility this law may never go into effect — as the technology remains encumbered by patents — one has to question the decision by the California Department of Justice to spend its time and limited resources on drafting regulations for the flawed technology,” said NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Lawrence G. Keane.

Opposition to microstamping has intensified as manufacturers have indicated the new law would force them to raise prices of guns significantly. Estimates of price increases go as high as $200 per firearm, as the unreliable technology would require a complete reconfiguring of the manufacturing and assembly processes.

CLICK HERE for more information on Firearms Microstamping.

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