The popular American gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson announced on Wednesday that it will stop selling its handguns in California. This announcement was in response to California’s new gun law which requires that all new semi-automatic pistols that are not already on the state’s approved gun roster have the microstamping technology.
“Microstamping is a patented process that, in theory, would have a unique code on the tip of a gun’s firing pin that would engrave that information on the casing when fired.
Smith & Wesson President and CEO James Debney said, “As our products fall off the roster due to California’s interpretation of the Unsafe Handgun Act, we will continue to work with the NRA and the NSSF to oppose this poorly conceived law which mandates the unproven and unreliable concept of microstamping and makes it impossible for Californians to have access to the best products with the latest innovations.””
Ruger, another gun manufacturer, made the same announcement earlier this month.
Microstamping does not result in the outcome that its supporters point to and it is hardly foolproof. The theory is that a laser, which etches the firing pin and uniquely identifies the casing, can help track down criminals. While that might sound good to some people, it’s reliability in real life scenarios hasn’t been successful. Here are a few reasons why:
- Stamped casing can only be traced to the last registered owner, not to the person who used the gun when the casings were stamped. In the case of a stolen gun, as is the case for most firearms used in crime, the stamped case would not lead to the criminal.
- Unscrupulous individuals could collect discarded brass from a firing range and salt crime scenes with microstamped cases, thereby providing false evidence against innocent people and increasing the workload for investigators.
- High costs for testing the efficacy of the technique must be passed on to customers, increasing the cost of firearms for those who obtain them legally.
- Microstamping is easily defeated. Diamond coated files are inexpensive and will remove microstamping. Firing pins are normally replaceable and can be changed with simple tools or without tools. Firing a large number of rounds will wear down the microstamp. Marked components such as slides, barrels, firing pins and ejectors are all easily and commonly replaced items.
- Microstamping is an immature, sole source technology, and has not been subjected to sufficient independent testing. Transfer of microstamped marks to the cases is less reliable than proponents claim.
- Microstamping would be irrelevant/non-applicable for implementation of revolvers as these types of weapons do not eject shell cases necessarily.
- Ejected casings can be easily collected and removed from a crime scene.
Specific to California, opponents say:
- Firearms sold to law-enforcement are exempt. Problems could arise if a police officer’s firearm is used in a crime or stolen, and the fact that a firearm is “unsafe” if not provided with stamping technology exposes the police to liability.
- Guns manufactured before an effective date are exempt and the bill does not extend to guns outside of California. There’s no possibility that this bill would ever cover enough guns to provide the investigative advantage claimed for it by the proponents.
- Failures of the microstamping parts of a firearm makes it “unsafe” under the California law, which then becomes illegal to sell, give or lend under existing law.
How do you feel about microstamping? Do you believe it violates the Second Amendment? Comment below.