Micro-stamped cartridge. In theory. (courtey slowfacts.files.wordpress.com)

Press release:

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI) have filed a motion for a preliminary injunction on behalf of their members against the State of California in Fresno Superior Court to prevent enforcement of the state’s microstamping law. [Click here to read the motion.] The state statute enacted in 2007, but not made effective until May 2013, requires that all semiautomatic handguns sold in the state not already on the California approved handgun roster incorporate unproven and unreliable microstamping technology . . .

Under this law, firearms manufacturers would have to micro laser-engrave a gun’s make, model and serial number on two distinct parts of each handgun, including the firing pin so that, in theory, this information would be imprinted on the cartridge casing when the pistol is fired.

“There is no existing microstamping technology that meets the requirement of this ill-considered law. It is not technologically possible to microstamp two locations in the gun and have the required information imprint onto the cartridge casing. In addition, the current state of the technology cannot reliably, consistently and legibly imprint on the cartridge primer the required identifying information from the tip of the firing pin, the only possible location where it is possible to micro-laser engrave the information, said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel.

“The holder of the patent for this technology himself has written that there are problems with it and that further study is warranted before it is mandated. A National Academy of Science review, forensic firearms examiners and a University of California at Davis study reached the same conclusion and the technical experts in the firearms industry agree,” Keane said. “Manufacturers cannot comply with a law the provisions of which are invalid, that cannot be enforced and that will not contribute to improving public safety. Today, we are seeking injunctive relief against this back-door attempt to prevent the sale of new or upgraded semiautomatic handguns to law-abiding citizens in California.”

In 2007, California Assembly Bill 1471 was passed and signed into law requiring microstamping on internal parts of new semiautomatic pistols. The legislation provided that this requirement would only became effective if the California Department of Justice certified that the microstamping technology is available to more than one manufacturer unencumbered by patent restrictions. The California legislature subsequently reorganized certain statutes concerning the regulation of firearms, including the microstamping law in 2010. On May 17, 2013, Attorney General Kamala D. Harris provided such certification.

Smith & Wesson and Sturm Ruger have separately announced that they would no longer be selling new or improved semiautomatic handgun models in California because of the impossibility of complying with the new law.

[Click here to read additional Fast Facts backgrounder on Microstamping from NSSF.]

38 Responses to NSSF and SAAMI File Suit Against CA Microstamping Law

  1. While I commend them for taking this up, they are a little late to the party.
    CalGuns, and SAF have already had oral arguments in the case of Pena v CID. In this instance they are going after the entire gun registry extortion scheme of California, but it was amended prior to oral arguments to include the micro stamping law. While a temporary injunction is all well in good, I prefer for the state to run dry. I want gun shops with empty shelves, and manufacturers like Ruger, Glock, S&W to tell CA to take a long walk off a short pier. Why?? It helps the larger case.

    The idea is that by having the safe gun registry it is easy to simply attach laws to it, like the magazine safety, or the chamber loaded indicator. All of these things had to be added to current models prior to being allowed in CA. The micro stamping was the last straw. It is a technology which is deeply flawed and easy to circumvent.

    By being able to point to vendors, and manufacturers closing up shop in CA, it makes it that much more self evident that the gun registry is a dangerous thing. It would be all to easy to attach the smart gun technology to it next, and then we are back again to square one. Or some other ill conceived idea of a safer gun.

    So while I understand why NSSF and SAAMI is doing what they are doing, going into state court is really at the bottom. Pena is in federal court so any rulings go to the 9th circuit appeals, if challenged. The only thing I can think of at this point for this is to provide the gun shops with a little relief until they can get the registry tossed. Unless you shop does SSE, variety is slim, and prices are like gas in this state, really high.

    Meanwhile the gun shops suffer. Law abiding citizens suffer. Lawyers make more money, and politicians have the illegal market cornered. 😉

    On that front we are due to get a judgement in pena v cid any day now. I hope…

    • I sort of agree although I can do so comfortably as I am away from California and don’t need to buy a pistol there any time soon.

    • I think you miss point. The State of California wants the manufactures to tell them take a long walk of a short pier and for guns shops to disappear. That way the state will disarm itself over time and the criminals in Sacramento will then turn to the criminals on the street and tell them go forth and terrorize the peasants.

      • The counterpoint is that the results- no guns for anyone- would force the federal courts to intervene using heller as precedent.

  2. I’m delighted that they’re standing up to laws that are based on legends and fairy tales. Godspeed!

  3. Whoever dreamed this microstamping nonsense up should be used for target practice.

    First of all, while the law abiding citizens are busy trying to comply with this BS (for those stupid enough to do so), the fact remains that even if a gun is stolen, used in a crime, and then successfully traced back to a theft report, it will do NOTHING to stop crime. Once guns are stolen, it will do nothing to identify who the perp is unless the gunowner, himself, is stupid enough to use his own gun.

    The vast majority of killings will be done by people who have acquired a pistol outside any legal channels or who don’t care if the microstamping ID happens to belong to some stranger they stole it from. I mean, what were these legislators thinking of? Are they THAT stupid? Well, they’re legislators, so …….. yes.

  4. Will the microstamp not completely wear off anyway, rendering the number illegible after some use, whether it be a few dozen, a few hundred rounds or so? Perhaps CA’s next law should be that firing pins in new guns be made of adamantium so that type of wear will not happen. Just a suggestion.

    I’m sure the periodic table is not something CA idiot pols know anything about so I would not be surprised if they take my suggestion seriously the dolts.

    It seems that the law will only increase the price of guns in CA, which is in turn a passive deterrent intended to get people to do their dirt with a shovel instead. This silly law will have zero net effect, criminals will obtain their weapons from Wyoming and drive them across the country interstate trafficking laws be damned. These gangers laugh at the cops nowadays.

    Or they will simply utilize the already extensive black market network for firearms already banned to hell and back as they’ve always done. If a Kalashnikov can be had for as little as $35 in some African countries, don’t you think that there are dozens of Leland Yees out there taking advantage of that?

    Or they will simply take the microstamp off the firing pin with a Dremel and a little bit of Flitz.

    Or they will simply pick up their shell casings after they do their dirt, or wear a ziplock baggie over their firing hands so they don’t have to.

    Or they will just buy a replacement firing pin with no microstamping on it over the internet for $10 PayPal from the dozens of specialized startups that will materialize overnight as a result of this new law, some even located in CA.

    Or they will just buy an old gun, via the black market. Making Al Capones out of those who would capitalize upon this new Prohibition.

    Or any combination of the above.

    Policymakers can be so ridiculously vacuous sometimes, especially when they believe that they are being clever.

    • Yes, microstamping is easy to circumvent. The problem: As I understand it, the CA law is written such that if a firearm’s microstamping no longer works, it is considered an “unsafe firearm”, and must (by law) be repaired.

      Of course, how is this enforced? Can law enforcement stop by the range at random and make sure your ejected cartridge microstamps are still readable? Can they force all gunsmiths to test the microstamp readability before returning a repaired or tuned gun to an owner – no matter what work was done to it? How is the paperwork for replacement firing pins handled? There are many, many holes in the law.

      • Even aside from enforcement, let’s talk about compliance… do they expect people who shoot to bring a magnifying glass with them to make sure their gun is functioning as the nanny state wants?

      • Or.. what’s to stop criminals from picking up handfuls of brass from shooting ranges and tossing them around the scene of their crimes. Police will have a tough job determining what was fired at the scene and what was brought there … Unless they just jail everyone who’s brass was planted at the scene. I’m sure the gun-grabbers would love that last one!

        • Most criminals are pretty smart at picking victims, but otherwise dumb. I think you give them a bit too much credit.

  5. Took them long enough. Should have filed it years ago, not wait last minute. You know there will be some stain of a politician that will now try to enact some legislation preventing any and every firearm from coming into the state until they find some cockaminny way to get what they want. What failure. more deaths occur through vehicular manslaughter that firearm related. Anybody can buy a vehicle and let any other person drive it, allowing licensed/unlicensed operate it to the degree they choose. Foget firearm licensing and recording; start enforcing vehicle laws. The Bill of Rights doesn’t have a infringed vehicle right in them. Let’s tag those people first and the most serious.

  6. Why doesn’t Calirussia micro stamp the front of the bullet then they can give an award to the shooter of the dead gang member.Ya that’s the ticket!

  7. Of course these idiots never thought that once they actually had microstamping in effect, all you have to do is go to the range, pick up someone else’s brass, then go do your murder and pick up your brass, dump theirs and you have effectively framed them for the murder. Too easy!

  8. Absolute garbage. Micro-Stamping is relatively easily accomplished, though not in the way California wants it done. Also, it wont last forever and it’s so easily defeated that never minding that new guns purchased from licensed dealers aren’t the weapons their looking for, it’s not likely to ever solve a single crime, period.

    I don’t mean to beat a dead horse but laws that can be rendered useless by little Johnny Windowlicker in 10 minutes with a $2.00 file ought never to be passed in the first place. Just like the ‘ballistic finger print’ laws that can be defeated in minutes with a file, or by simple wear, micro stamping is a windmill tilting exercise that has no bearing on crime whatsoever. Just as ballistic figure printing has resulted in basically no crimes solved this does nothing for public safety it’s either ill conceived, a back door attempt at prohibition, or both.

  9. Leland Yee pic should be on the front of the pleading to show how silly the law is when applied to those who dont give a shit

  10. Actually, this is mostly old news. NSSF filed its lawsuit months ago, about the same time Pena v, CID was amended to include the microstamp law. The only thing new is the motion for preliminary injunction. This suit is much cleaner and simpler than Pena, as it attacks only the microstamping law and the tech behind it Pena, on the other hand, attacks the entire safe handguns law, and that is a much harder case because the roster, when originally enacted was to assure drop safe firearms. If it had stopped there, I doubt that it would have ever been overturned–and since there is still that facet of the roster active, it may undermine attacks on the less obviously safety related requirements for roster listing.

  11. I can think of so many ways a criminal could thwart the microstamping. They could gather random casings at local gun ranges and scatter them all over the crime scene so cops can’t tell what was used and have a bunch of random people to interview, steal the gun (a popular tactic), use a revolver (also popular and is exempt from the stamping requirement, buying out of state, or filing away the laser etchings/buying a new firing pin.

    • See, that’s the thing right there. Many of the murders in the US are committed with stolen guns, and all the microstamping in the world won’t solve those crimes. It is no different than the NY law requiring registration of casings–that cost millions and solved no crimes.

  12. this is by far the worst law that affects us ca residents. imho. not only the obvious negative affects it has, but also how many potential gun owners have been turned off by this.

  13. I was in a gun store last month looking at pocket carry sized 9mm handguns. It wasn’t until I was looking at the range of what WASN’T available in CA, that it became clear what the predictabble effect of the micro-stamping law actually means to new gun owners, especially given what the SHOT show proved- the biggest growth in new gun owners is women and the elderly, who need the level playing field that a weapon provides for self-defense.

    The Walthers were gone in 2010, and Sigs gone in 2010. The Ruger 380 was gone and the Ruger LC9 had just fallen off, and the Kahrs will be gone in another couple months.

    The Nano is not on the CA list, the Glock 42 wont be added, as they dont have the micro-stamping feature, and even newer models WONT be on the list, as there are NO makers who have the technology to build in the micro-stamping.

    One could say that AG Kamala Harris, and the CA Senate Gun Grabbers are discriminating against women and the elderly by placing them in harms way, on purpose, solely for their political ambition.

    Since those women and elderly voters are kept defenseless, they are thus at risk of attack by criminals even more, in fear, and that would tend to encourage them to vote for more police hires, more better pay, and more prisons. Thats all good if you are a union leader or lobbyist, or a school teacher who needs school resource officers to protect on campus,

    but… not so good if you are a taxpayer. But then the CA State legislators arent REALLY listening to the taxpayers, are they? Guess who of the above interest groups were in the top 5 of Sen Leland Yees donors for his Sec State campaign in 2012?

    Never see these dots connected or conclusions in the StateRunMedia….

    • AS an ex Californian, welcome to our world that has been going on for some 30 years. CA has been driving businesses out of CA for better 40 years. The gun business is just the tip of the ice burg.

  14. One wonders how long it will be before the “Revolver Loophole” becomes a talking point and all revolvers are banned, since they don’t eject a shell casing.

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