Sunday, January 12, 2014

"Microstamping" in California

Shooting Wire:
(January 10, 2014)
 NEWTOWN, Conn. -- The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers' Institute (SAAMI) today filed a lawsuit on behalf of their members against the State of California in Fresno Superior Court challenging the state's microstamping law. NSSF and SAAMI seek to invalidate and enjoin enforcement of provisions of state law enacted in 2007, but not made effective until May 2013, requiring that all semiautomatic pistols sold in the state not already on the California approved handgun roster contain 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 gun, including the firing pin so that, in theory, this information would be imprinted on the cartridge casing when the pistol is fired.
I have to admit to a certain amount of chagrin when reporting this story.

A few years ago I spent months reporting on this bizarre turn in Gun Control (type "microstamping" in the "search" block near the top of this blogpage).  I had [foolishly] concluded, privately, that this was such an obviously unworkable "solution" to 'gun violence' that everyone would drop it, eventually.

I was aware that it had become public law in California in 2007, but considered it just another knee-jerk reaction by The Land of Fruits and Nuts.

There is no law which is too ridiculous for California to consider seriously by California Legislators, as long as restricts access to The Evil Gun.  I knew that, but I thought .. really, not even California Assembly persons (they are very picky about Politically Correct nomenclatures) would insist on THIS bill!

Silly me.

I should have noticed this May 19, 2013 article on the KDOC TV website:
After years of delays, a gun law signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2007 is finally in effect.
The law requires all new semi-automatic handguns to come equipped with a device that stamps each bullet with the gun's make, model, and serial number.
The law will not be applied to any of the 1,200 guns already on the state's firearm roster.
The law has angered gun rights advocates including the Calguns Foundation which challenged requirements of the state's handgun roster as unconstitutional in a federal court filing.
The law couldn't take effect as it was supposed to in 2010 because of patents on the technology, including at least one filed by the Calguns Foundation to delay the law's implementation.
On Friday, Attorney General Kamala Harris officially certified and announced that patents were no longer an issue. Former state Assemblyman Mike Feuer, who authored the law, hailed it as a "monumental day for law enforcement.
Perhaps I did notice it, in passing, but ... it was a flawed report.  The law didn't truly require an automatic ID stamping on each BULLET.

Instead, as more correctly reported in this May 20, 2013, article from Infowars:
In a controversial move that some believe will essentially lead to a de facto ban on semi-automatic handguns, Attorney General Kamala Harris announced that, effective immediately, all new semi-automatic firearms sold in the State of California will require a unique microstamp on every shell ejected when a gun is fired.
The INFOWARS article continues:
Microstamping, or ballistic imprinting, is a technology patented in the 1990′s by engineer and NRA member Todd Lizotte. When a gun is fired, a tiny engraving on the firing pin etches a microscopic identifier onto the cartridge as it is expended by the firearm.
The law, which requires every semi automatic gun sold in the state to imprint the gun’s serial number on the cartridge, was signed into law by former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2007 and was delayed due to patent stipulations in the legislation.
The legislation specified that it would take effect only when the technology was available and all private patents had expired.
But at a Los Angeles news conference Friday, Harris announced that micro-stamping had cleared all technological and patenting hurdles and would be required on newly sold semiautomatics, effective immediately.
Please note the name Todd Lizotte; this was the gentleman with whom I held an extended dialogue on this view 'way back when'.  (Specifically, 2008)

For background information on this dialogue, go to "cogito ergo geek" and enter "Todd Lizotte" in the query box in the upper left-hand corner of the page.)

... Unfortunately, Mr. Lizotte apparently managed to convince the California Assembly persons the micro-stamping technology was currently within the the technical ability of firearms manufacturers everywhere, and that it was viable.

That last one must have been a hard sell!  (Oh, wait .. this is California!  Never mind, it would have been 'attractive' tere.)

So, it's not only current law in California, but enforceable law .. which is a very different thing.

I do have a few points I would like to mention (again) in opposition to this law

Point one:  few firearms manufacturers are likely to accede to this California law.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that firearms manufacturers are likely, let alone willing, to change their tooling process to continue sales to California customers.  Given the current milieu of firearms restrictions in California .. including (but not only) that semi-automatic pistols must demonstrably pass a destructive "drop-test" to prove that they won't "Go Off" when dropped on concrete surfaces from a six feet altitude (all makes, all models, all calibers) California has made business so unappealing to dealers that it has essentially established itself as a "Not In My Back Yard State".  We won't talk about Barrett .50 Cal Rifles sold to California police agencies here.

Point two: the technology is not necessarily workable.

There are a lot of reasons why Lizotte's claims are challenged, not the least is that his technology is not demonstrably workable on ammunition which has been reloaded.

Example:  If we are at a pistol match, and you leave a piece of .45ACP brass on the range, I can pick it up and reload it.

If that brass (which may have been picked up and reloaded by others) ends up at a crime scene, it's impossible to determine exactly whose pistol shot it last.  So the claim that it can be used to identify the firearm which shot it is entirely disproved.  And no, the claim that they an determine "overstamping"  is not proved, either.

So .. it is NOT necessarily a tool which police agencies can use to determine what gun 'fired the fatal bullet'.


Point three: the law is not expected to achieve the goals which were used to justify it.

This is NOT technology which has been absolutely been proved reliable in the field.   Even ignoring the previous point of "overstamping",  there has been NO reliably, authoritative documented evidence that the microstamping technology is accepted .. or is expected to be accepted .. in criminal courts to definitively identify the gun which fired the cartridge (shell) which fired the bullet which committed a felony.

Well, bullets  .. or shells  ... don't commit felonies .. and that's a WHOLE other story, but let us ignore that for the moment.

Here's the point

California doesn't give a damn about identifying the "doer" in a violent crime.   They don't expect that, they don't require that.

All California (in the  persons of their state assembly-persons, and state senators) don't care a freaking damn about "fighting Crime", or "Solving Crimes".  They just want to get guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens.  They know they can't get the guns out of the hand of criminals and other outlaws.  Push them hard, and they will admit that .. in private.

It's all Public Relations. 

NO elected official in California expects this law to reduce crime, or to help law enforcement agencies to convict perpetrators of violent crimes.   "Perps" are a drop in the bucket, and never noticed in the important events .. polls.

They just want to get re-elected.  It's all about image, and if you do NOT vote against this bill, you run the risk of being found "soft on crime" ... which means less votes next year.

They won't win if crime goes down.
But they will lose if they don't get re-elected.  Their pocket books are their sole priority.

They lose their job, they have to find honest work.  And they are not qualified.

That's all it is.  It's not about your safety, it's about their job security.

Anybody in California wish to argue otherwise?

I didn't think so.


Anonymous said...

Under the 10th amendment California is perfectly within it's right to make and enforce this silly law. Gun makers are within their rights not to make and sell guns compliant with the law. It is obvious that state lawmakers are anti-gun, so gun makers should not sell their products in the state. Let California gradually become gunfree.

Randall said...

I don't understand point 2. If the firing pin is the stamp, then what is stamped is the primer. When reloading shells the spent primer is removed and is replaced with a new one.

MuddyValley said...

"it's about their job security." You sure got that one right!
Even if they developed and implemented the technology, the "bad" guys would just pick up the brass. Assuming they were dumb enough not to either polish the firing pin, or pick up an "illegal" but easily obtained by mail, replacement. Not that they would use a registered firearm in the first place. My fear is that even more Californians will now be flooding into Oregon.

Anonymous said...

Plenty of Californians are moving to Texas, mostly because we have jobs and low taxes. It would be nice if they stayed on the West Coast.