We Don’t Want To Be California

With apologies to my good friends in the gun rights movement from California, we don’t want to be you. You have things we in North Carolina just don’t want and this includes your California Handgun Roster. This should be patently obvious to every legislator, Democrat or Republican, in the North Carolina General Assembly but sadly it is not.

Representatives Verla Insko (D-Orange), Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford), and Marcia Morey (D-Durham) have introduced HB 1060 which would establish a handgun roster for North Carolina. Actually, it goes further and straight out adopts the California Handgun Roster in its totality.

Development; Prohibition. – The Department shall develop a roster of handguns
determined not to be unsafe based off the California Roster of Handguns Certified for Sale.
Except as provided in subsections (d) and (e) of this section, it is unlawful for any person, firm,
or corporation to (i) manufacture, sell, give, loan, import, or otherwise transfer a handgun that is
not listed on the roster as of January 1 of the calendar year in which the handgun is to be sold,
given, loaned, imported, or otherwise transferred or (ii) own or possess a handgun that is not
listed on the roster as of January 1 of the applicable calendar year, unless the person, firm, or
corporation lawfully owned or possessed the handgun prior to that date.

It goes without saying that this is nothing but a political stunt by these anti-gun Democrats as the General Assembly has a Republican super-majority. While I am pissed at the Republican leadership for dragging their feet on permitless concealed carry, I am reasonably sure that they won’t let any gun control bill like this see the light of day.

Of the three representatives, only Pricey Harrison is a North Carolinian born and bred. Insko was born in Arkansas and grew up in California while Morey is from Illinois and educated there. Morey, it should be noted, was appointed and not elected to the House as she replaced a representative who had died. Of note about Harrison, she is the great-granddaughter of Julian Price who founded the Jefferson Standard Life Insurance Company which through mergers is now known as Lincoln Financial. Her grandparents were well-known philantropists in Greensboro. My point is that Harrison grew up with a silver spoon in her mouth and somewhere along the way adopted the leftist orientation that many of those who never had to struggle seem to adopt.

S&W Joins Ruger In Leaving California Market

Smith & Wesson has officially announced today that they are letting their M&P series of semi-automatic pistols drop off the California Department of Justice Handgun Roster. For the time being, the M&P Shield and the SDVE pistols will remain on the roster as the company plans no changes to these pistols and they were added to the list prior to the beginning of 2014.

What I would like to see and, I think most would agree, is for S&W along with Ruger, Glock, and any other supplier of pistols to the law enforcement market in California take the Ronnie Barrett approach to this. That is, if it can’t be sold to individuals in California then it won’t be sold to law enforcement either. Barrett went further and stopped providing spare parts and repairs as well. 

The official statement from Smith & Wesson courtesy of the Outdoor Wire is below:

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (January 23, 2014) — Smith & Wesson Corp. announced today that although it continually seeks ways to refine and improve its firearms so that consumers have access to the best possible products, the State of California is making that impossible when it comes to California residents.

Under California’s “Unsafe Handgun Act,” any new semi-automatic pistol introduced into that state must comply with microstamping laws. In addition, 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. For semi-automatic pistols, this means it must comply with the microstamping requirements, as well.

Smith & Wesson does not and will not include microstamping in its firearms. 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. The microstamping mandate and the company’s unwillingness to adopt this so-called technology will result in a diminishing number of Smith & Wesson semi-automatic pistols available for purchase by California residents.

This is not a problem unique to Smith & Wesson. The microstamping legislation and California’s position regarding performance enhancements and other improvements creates the same challenge for all firearm manufacturers, since presumably all of them refine and improve their products over time.

Smith & Wesson currently produces a California-compliant version of its M&P® Shield and SDVE™ pistols. Both of these new products were launched last week at SHOT Show® in Las Vegas and are expected to begin shipping within 90 days. They are expected to more than offset the impact of those M&P pistol models that will not remain on the Roster. Both the M&P Shield and the SDVE pistols are expected to remain on the California Roster of Handguns Certified for Sale as long as no changes are made to those models and the company does not plan to make changes to them for this reason. All other Smith & Wesson handguns are at risk of eventually falling off the roster over time. The company expects that any current production revolvers that fall off will be re-tested and returned to the roster, since microstamping does not apply to revolvers. Without some change in position by California, however, any semi-automatic pistols (other than the California-compliant models referenced above) that are removed from the roster will not be returned and law-abiding citizens will not be permitted to buy them from a licensed dealer in California.

James Debney, Smith & Wesson President & CEO, 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. At the same time, we will do our best to support our customers in California with state-compliant products, enabling them access to at least a portion of the firearms to which we believe all citizens are entitled. In these challenging times, we hope you will support Smith & Wesson, and all gun manufacturers, in our fight to make the Unsafe Handgun Act about safety. We also encourage you to support the NSSF’s lawsuit and other efforts to stop microstamping, before it impacts your Constitutional rights.”

Unless California changes its position, all M&P pistols other than the M&P Shield, will fall off the roster by August, 2014, due to performance enhancements and other improvements we have made to those firearms. This includes the M&P9c, which has fallen off already and several other M&P models that will fall off by the end of this month. Other models already have fallen off and will continue to fall off for the same reason. Visit http://oag.ca.gov/sites/oag.ca.gov/files/pdfs/firearms/removed.pdf each week for a list published by the California Department of Justice of the handguns no longer on the roster.

California firearms dealers should check the official California Roster of Handguns Certified for Sale frequently, to determine which handguns are certified for sale in California. This list can be found at http://certguns.doj.ca.gov/.

Ruger CEO Mike Fifer Clarifies Why They Are Leaving California Market

As I reported yesterday in the infographic on the California Handgun Roster, Ruger is reportedly going to let all their semi-automatic pistols drop off the approved Handgun Roster. Today, Ruger CEO Mike Fifer clarified this in an interview with Guns.com.

“We’re being forced out of the state by the California Department of Justice,” explained Fifer. “This insistence on microstamping, which doesn’t work, is denying you your rights to have access to these guns.”

“We’re not abandoning the [California] market at all, we are trying our hardest to stay in the market,” he continued. “We’re committed to California and we’re fighting this every inch of the way.”

In other words, they’re not abandoning their fans, enthusiasts and customers in California. They’re going to do whatever they can to see that this inane law gets struck down.

An Infographic That Illustrates The Anti’s Endgame In California

The CalGuns Foundation has released the infographic below that show the end result of the Handgun Roster and the microstamping requirement in California. The end result is no handguns available which would please the gun prohibitionists no end. Moreover, they will say they didn’t outlaw these guns but merely demanded that they be safe. It is the “fault” they will say of a firearms industry that didn’t care about either their customer’s safety or of being able to “assist” police supposedly solve crimes through microstamps.

CalGuns has put together an abbreviated history of the Handgun Roster as well as the microstamping requirement. For even more info on the Roster, go here.

1/1/2001: CA laws (SB 15 – 2000) creating a Roster of “not unsafe” handguns certified for sale are enforced.

1/1/2006: CA law (SB 489 – 2003) requiring loaded chamber indicator or magazine disconnect for all new semi-automatic centerfire handguns added to Roster is enforced; CA law (SB 489 – 2003) requiring magazine disconnect for all new rimfire semi-handguns added to Roster enforced.

1/1/2007: CA law (SB 489 – 2003) requiring both loaded chamber indicator and magazine disconnect for all new semi-automatic centerfire handguns added to Roster enforced.

4/30/2009: During a short period of time in which the United States Constitution’s Second Amendment applied to states and local governments within the federal Ninth Circuit through a case called Nordyke v. King, The Calguns Foundation and 5 other plaintiffs — including the Second Amendment Foundation — filed a federal civil rights lawsuit called Peña v. Cid (now Peña v. Lindley) against the California Department of Justice that challenged the constitutionality of the state’s “Handgun Roster” laws. The Peña case, helmed by civil rights attorneys Alan Gura, Donald Kilmer, and Jason Davis, was argued at the trial court on December 17, 2013, on cross motions for summary judgment and is currently pending decision.

5/17/2013: CA law (AB 1471 – 2008) requiring “microstamping” for all semi-automatic handguns to be added to Roster enforced by CA Attorney General Kamala Harris (CA DOJ).

It also appears that Ruger is sick and tired of kowtowing to the California rules and will let their semi-auto pistols drop off the California Handgun Roster. Given that a significant portion of Ruger’s sales growth comes from new introductions and given that new pistols must be microstamped under California law, I frankly don’t blame Ruger. I see it as a reasonable business decision on their part.

From C. D. Michel’s CalGunLaws.Com:

In perhaps one of the more shocking discoveries at the 2014 SHOT Show, Ruger spokesperson Kevin Reid revealed that Ruger was going to let it’s entire California Semiautomatic pistol roster “…drop off…” the CA Department of Justice Approved Handgun List.

It seems that in Ruger’s slavish dedication to the concept of “continuous improvement”, and that California is milking some $ 200 per pistol per year to stay on the list AND that microstamping is now the rule, Ruger has already let some 60+ semiautomatic pistols drop off the approved handgun roster with the rest shortly to follow. (Note to the legal beagles out there: NSSF Governmental Relations/State Affairs Director Jake McGuigan did announce at an early morning seminar that NSSF had filed suit on or around January 9 regarding the microstamping issue in California.).

How this effects Ruger Sales of revolvers and rifles in the Fool’s Paradise of Kalifornia remains to be seen. While Ruger continues to produce excellent revolvers, California gun owners are notorious for voting with their feet against businesses that desert them when the chips are down. Hopefully this won’t too badly effect the roll-out of the latest GP-100.

Glock Steps Up In Challenge To California’s Handgun Roster

Glock, Inc. filed a amicus brief last Friday the case challenging California’s handgun roster. The case, Pena et al v. Lindley, was originally filed in 2009 in US District Court for the Eastern District of California. Glock’s amicus brief was filed in support of the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment.

It is rare to see an individual firearms company take a stance such as this. These briefs are usually filed on behalf of a group like the National Shooting Sports Foundation. That said, it makes good business sense for Glock to support this case as none of their Gen4 pistols can be sold in California as they don’t have magazine disconnects and aren’t microstamp-ready.

The brief was written by attorney Erik Jaffe and Chapman University School of Law Professor John C. Eastman. Both Jaffe and Eastman served as law clerks for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. They argue that given the ubiquity of the Glock pistol throughout the United States that it meets the Heller decision’s common use test. Because of this, banning the sale of the Glock in California runs afoul of the Second Amendment.

They start their argument by attacking the requirements for a magazine disconnect and for microstamping technology. The brief states that a magazine disconnect is a disadvantage in that a chambered round cannot be fired without a magazine in place.

GLOCK pistols can be fired if the magazine is lost or
damaged, and a round in the chamber can be fired if necessary while the user is in the
process of changing magazines. A pistol with a magazine disconnect mechanism would
not be capable of firing under those circumstances. For those reasons and others, the
overwhelming majority of law enforcement agencies require pistols that do not have a
magazine disconnect mechanism. In addition to GLOCK pistols, the majority of semiautomatic
pistols sold today do not include a magazine disconnect mechanism because of
its significant disadvantages. Accordingly, the pistols that are in “common use” by “law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes,” Heller, 554 U.S. at 625, 627, generally do not
include a magazine disconnect mechanism.

They attack microstamping as “novel and essentially theoretical” technology which does nothing to enhance the firearm’s safety which is the purported purpose of the handgun roster. It is meant to possibly help law enforcement. The absence of a magazine disconnect and microstamping does not make a pistol either unsafe or more dangerous.

Jaffe and Eastman argue that:

California has in essence reversed the Supreme Court’s “common use” test and
prohibited the sale and possession of those pistols that are commonly used by “lawabiding
citizens for lawful purposes,” Heller, 554 U.S. at 625, 627, and allowed only the
sale of those pistols that are not in common use and, in fact, are not even commercially
available. The absence of a magazine disconnect mechanism and microstamping technology in the Gen4 GLOCK pistols does not render them the type of “dangerous and
unusual weapons” that the government may prohibit, id. at 627, because they are
functionally identical to the earlier grandfathered versions of the GLOCK pistols that also
lack those features.

They attack California’s claim that the burden caused by the handgun roster is minimal. Consumers are not able to buy newer – and presumably safer – handguns while at the same time older handguns on the roster are exempted from the mag disconnect and microstamping requairements. As they note, this serves to weaken California’s argument that there is public safety interest in these requirements.

the government continues to allow sales of numerous handguns lacking these features,
and completely exempts law enforcement from regulations designed to exclude the sale
of allegedly “unsafe handguns,” shows at best an equivocal interest in the supposed
benefits from those technologies, not the type of substantial government interest that
would justify restricting an enumerated right.

They continue by saying:

In fact, the largest actual effect from the expanding list of novel technological
requirements for new models of guns is to prevent California consumers from being able
to obtain the new models of handguns, such as GLOCK’s Gen4 pistols, that incorporate
the latest improvements. It makes absolutely no sense to force consumers to purchase
older model handguns that lack the same features that the government is relying on to
prohibit the sale of newer model handguns. Justifying such a scheme in the name of
consumer safety or crime fighting is nonsensical, or simply disingenuous… Indeed, the very absurdity of the
scheme suggests that the actual objective of the challenged roster requirements is not
safety, but to create increasingly more problematic and expensive hurdles to the sale of
handguns in order to make the process more difficult and thereby deter the sale and
purchase of new handguns in California
, an objective that cannot be squared with the Second Amendment.

They conclude that the burden is substantial and that California has a “minimal government interest inconsistently pursued” in maintaining the restrictions imposed by the handgun roster.

I’m glad to see Glock stepping up in this fight. The California handgun roster is a joke. Any roster such as the one in California that makes a distinction between a pistol based upon whether it is all stainless or all blue and then bans a two-tone version of the same pistol  has just proved this.

The amicus brief can be found here.