NSSF And SAAMI Sue California To Stop Microstamping

The National Shooting Sports Foundation and the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute filed suit in Fresno Superior Court today. They are seeking a preliminary injunction against California’s microstamping law calling it unworkable.

You may remember that last year California Attorney General Kamala Harris certified the microstamping was no longer covered by patent protection. As a result, all new firearms that weren’t previously on the California Handgun Roster now must be microstamped. Any design changes a manufacturer makes to an existing firearm would then require it to be recertified and thus have a microstamp on its firing pin.

The release from NSSF and SAAMI is below:

NEWTOWN, Conn. – 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. 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.

The notice that NSSF and SAAMI would be seeking a preliminary injunction can be seen here.

CalGuns And SAF Challenge Microstamping Requirement

The CalGuns Foundation and the Second Amendment Foundation have filed a Second Amended Complaint in their case challenging Califorinia’s Handgun Roster. The amended complaint in Pena et al v. Cid now also challenges the handgun microstamping requirement.

From the CGF release:

CGF Challenges CA Handgun Microstamping Requirement in Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit

SAN CARLOS, CA – The Calguns Foundation announced today that attorneys for it and co-plaintiff Second Amendment Foundation have filed an amended complaint in the federal civil rights case Peña v. Cid that includes a challenge to California’s handgun microstamping regulations.

The plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment will be argued by the court’s deadline in November.

The lawsuit was originally filed in 2009 as a challenge to California’s handgun “Roster” regulations that arbitrarily bans handguns based on a list of “acceptable” handgun models approved by the state. The new filing addresses microstamping, which makes it even harder for Californians to legally purchase a handgun for self defense.

Gene Hoffman, chairman of The Calguns Foundation, said, “California’s attempt to limit the availability of handguns to her citizens is so broad that it makes it impossible to purchase the revolver that the U.S. Supreme Court has specifically ruled had to be registered to Dick Heller, whose case struck down the District of Columbia’s handgun ban and affirmed that the Second Amendment protects an individual civil right.”

“The state cannot dictate that some common arms can’t be bought just as they can’t dictate which versions of religious texts are acceptable,” Hoffman added. “Now that the state requires microstamping, it’s unlikely any new make or model of pistol will be added – making it even clearer that this is an incremental ban on firearms.”

“When the case was originally filed,” SAF Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb recalled, “the state’s microstamping requirement was not active and was not part of the lawsuit. However, because of substantial delays involving the Ninth Circuit’s protracted Nordyke litigation, microstamping is now a significant issue. We’ve had to amend our complaint to address this new effort by California legislators to limit the types of handguns one can legally purchase.”

The amended complaint can be viewed at http://ia700204.us.archive.org/23/items/gov.uscourts.caed.191444/gov.uscourts.caed.191444.53.0.pdf

The May 17, 2013, California Department of Justice Information Bulletin on handgun microstamping regulation enforcement can be viewed at http://oag.ca.gov/sites/all/files/agweb/pdfs/firearms/infobuls/2013-BOF-03.pdf.

More information about the Peña v. Cid lawsuit can be viewed at http://wiki.calgunsfoundation.org/Pena_v_Cid.

Colt And Remington To Relocate?

The Firearm Blog ran a story today about the potential for Colt and Remington to relocate manufacturing out of Connecticut and New York respectively if those states adopted the flawed technology known as microstamping. The story noted as have others that many states would welcome these firearms manufacturers if they decided to leave the Northeast.

Cam Edwards of NRA News did an interview this evening with Larry Keane, General Counsel of the NSSF, on this issue. Keane repeated the NSSF’s position that the technology needs more study before it could ever be adopted. Moreover, and I didn’t know this, he said the patent holder of this technology has come around to the same position and is urging more study of microstamping.

Joe Huffman of the View From North Central Idaho has an excellent overview of the technology and its limitations on his blog here.

New York State Assembly Passes B.S. Law

The New York State Assembly passed A.1157-B – the microstamping law – today by a vote of 79 to 52. If passed by the State Senate it will go into effect in 2014. While they contend the cost to firearms manufacturers of the implementing microstamping will be minimal, industry sources disagree strongly.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D) released this statement on its passage.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel, and Codes Committee Chair Joseph Lentol today announced passage of the Crime Gun Identification Act of 2012 that would require all new semiautomatic handguns sold in New York State, by 2014, to be microstamped with a unique code which is transferred to shell casings when the gun is fired.

“Microstamping is a technological advancement that will not only help law enforcement officials investigate gun-related crimes, but will also act as a prevention tool to combat gun trafficking and reduce gun violence across New York,” said Silver. “Gun violence has caused great harm to many in our communities. This legislation would help law enforcement to bring the perpetrators of these violent crimes to justice and offer some measure of closure to the victims of these heinous acts. I commend Assemblywoman Schimel for championing this effort and all my colleagues for supporting this important public safety measure.”

Microstamping ensures that when a gun is fired, information identifying the make, model and serial number of the gun is stamped onto the cartridge as numbers and letters
. This technology allows law enforcement to trace firearms through shell casings found at crime scenes, even if the gun is never found. This crime-fighting tool will provide law enforcement with rapid leads at crime scenes and will provide evidence to help investigate, arrest, and convict more criminals of gun-related offenses.

Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel, sponsor of the measure (A.1157-B), said, “This is the fifth year that I have sponsored and debated microstamping legislation, which has passed our house each year. In this session, the Assembly included a microstamping measure in our budget proposal, but regretfully, it was not included in the final state budget. As we wait for the state Senate to act on this bill, brave law enforcement officers are being struck down by gun fire and innocent victims continue to be wantonly murdered. We can’t catch their killers because they fire anonymous bullets. I urge the state Senate to put the public’s safety above the interests of extremists in the gun lobby and pass this important crime-fighting measure.”

“This legislation will prove invaluable,” said Lentol. “Not only will this bill help to bring closure to victims and survivors of gun violence, it will also deter illegal gun traffickers from supplying violent criminals with weapons. I strongly urge the state Senate to take action on this important measure.”

Silver and Schimel noted that this bill will not place any restrictions on lawful gun ownership or impair access to the lawful purchase of weapons. The certification process called for in the bill is entirely industry based. The manufacturers of semiautomatic handguns will incur minimal costs to adopt this technology.

The technology is unproven,  it will be expensive for manufacturers to implement, and it can be easily defeated by either filing the firing pin or by scattering other cartridges at crime scenes. In other words, gun control advocates in the State Assembly have just passed a feel-good measure that will not have an impact on crime, will not track criminals, and will increase the cost of gun ownership. As to the last item, that is if firearms manufacturers even bother to sell semi-auto pistols in New York. This is probably the true goal – though unspoken – of the bill’s sponsors.

GunPoliticsNY has more here.

Brilliant Move!

The concept of microstamping is fairly well-known by now. It involves a laser-engraved number of a firing pin which transfers that code number to the primer of a cartridge. Its proponents argue that it will allow police to identify firearms used in crimes by shell casings left at the scene. That is, if only it was reliable and worked as its inventor and the gun control lobby said it would.

It is one of those things that sounds great in theory but fails in the real world. That hasn’t stopped states like California from adopting it or New York from strongly considering it.

The New York Times published an article online today entitled “New Method to Track Gun Use Stalled by Foes.” It will appear in the print edition tomorrow. The article describes the technology, the opposition to it by gun rights groups, and some of the studies done on its efficacy.

Its inventor, Todd Lizotte, who claims to be pro-Second Amendment and a member of the NRA had wanted his patent on the process to lapse into the public domain. The patent issue is critical for it to go into operation in California. He and his backers just didn’t figure in the tech industry savvy of the CalGuns Foundations whose officers know a thing or two about patents.

In California, legislation signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2007 has been held up while the attorney general’s office makes sure the technology is unencumbered by patents. A gun rights group, the Calguns Foundation, went so far as to pay a $555 fee to extend a lapsing patent held by the developer to further delay the law from taking effect.

“It was a lot cheaper to keep the patent in force than to litigate over the issues,” said Gene Hoffman, the chairman of the foundation, adding that he believed the law amounted to a gun ban in California.

For the cost of two hours (or less) of a good attorney, the CalGuns Foundation has stymied the law’s implementation by keeping the patent in force.What an absolutely brilliant move! Gene Hoffman and his group are the masters of strategy and guerrilla tactics and this is just one more example of it.

H/T Brandon Combs

I Think The Tool Is the Assemblywoman

I stumbled across a pro-microstamping op-ed by NY State Assembywoman Michelle Schimel today. She was the primary sponsor of A.01157 which would require any semi-automatic pistol manufactured or delivered to an FFL in the State of New York to be capable microstamping ammunition. This act passed the New York State Assembly in 2011, died in the State Senate, was returned to the Assembly, and has been passed again.

Assemblywoman Schimel wrote on the bill:

Microstamping allows law enforcement to trace firearms through shell casings found at crime scenes, even if the crime gun is never found. In passing microstamping, the Assembly heeded the call of gun violence victims and their families, anti-crime advocates, and law enforcement who have called for microstamping to be enacted in the budget due to be completed by the end of the month.

Microstamping is about public safety and placing criminals behind bars. This technology will save taxpayers’ dollars by enabling law enforcement to solve gun crimes quicker. At a time when government has to save money and be more efficient, microstamping will help reduce the number of man-hours needed to solve gun crimes. I praise my Assembly colleagues for realizing the urgent need for microstamping in New York State, and I strongly urge the State Senate and Governor to join us and include it in the final budget.

 In her official Assembly biography, she calls this her proudest legislative accomplishment. Given her background, I’m guessing she would.

A lifelong community activist, Michelle serves on the board of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence (NYAGV), the largest citizens’ group in New York State dedicated to reducing gun-related violence. In 1995, as Vice President and member of the Executive Board of NYAGV, Michelle and Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy co-founded the Long Island Chapter.

Independent, peer-reviewed research has shown that this so-called tool for law enforcement is unreliable. The University of California-Davis Forensic Science Graduate Group stated in reference to California’s law that “a mandate for implementation of this technology in all semiautomatic handguns in the state of California be made. Further testing, analysis and evaluation is required.”

The NSSF has called this “a flawed concept that is being pushed as a backdoor way to ban handguns” and I would agree.

After looking at the research, I would have to conclude that the tool in question is Assemblywoman Schimel and those who have voted in favor of this bill.

Legislating A Non-Existent Solution

The New York State Assembly just passed the micro-stamping bill and sent it to the State Senate according to the NRA.

Micro-Stamping Legislation Passes New York Assembly

Thursday, May 26, 2011

On Tuesday, May 24, Assembly Bill 1157 passed in the New York Assembly by a 84 to 55 vote. The bill has been delivered to the state Senate and will be considered in the Senate Codes Committee.

Introduced by state Assemblyman Michelle Schimel (D-16), A1157 would require all current semi-automatic pistols in production and all newly designed semi-automatic pistols delivered to any licensed firearms dealer in New York to mechanically stamp an alpha-numeric or geometric code that would imprint the make, model and serial number onto the cartridge case when the gun is discharged. This bill would vastly increase the cost of these firearms and will likely result in firearms manufacturers not selling new handguns in New York. Of course, that is the ultimate goal of this legislation.

A1157 would also require micro-stamping on all new semi-automatic pistols sold in New York after January 1, 2013 or whenever the State Police receive notification from one or more “micro-stamp job shops” that they can produce micro-stamp structures on two internal surfaces of a semi-automatic pistol for $12 or less, whichever occurs later.

Gun control advocates know that micro-stamping is unproven technology, is easily circumvented, and will be very costly to gun owners. Desperate to pass a bill and create a loophole, this legislation would do nothing to safeguard gun owners from the costly, unproven gimmick we know as micro-stamping. Enemies of the Second Amendment are determined to pass New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s pet project at any cost.

If you live in New York, please contact your state Senator and respectfully urge him or her to OPPOSE A1157. Contact information can be found here. Perhaps they can be the voice of reason.

Microstamping Bill Introduced In Massachusetts

Rep. David Paul Linsky (D-Middlesex) has introduced House Bill 1561 in the Massachusetts State House. The bill would mandate all semi-automatic rifles, shotguns, and pistols sold or manufactured in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts be capable of imprinting a “microstamp” on the face of a cartridge effective January 1, 2012.

The text of the bill reads:

SECTION 1. Chapter 269 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2004 Official Edition, is hereby amended by deleting Section 11E and inserting the following new section:-

Chapter 269: Section 11E. Serial identification numbers on firearms.

Section 11E.

(A) All firearms, rifles and shotguns of new manufacture, manufactured or delivered to any licensed dealer within the commonwealth shall bear serial numbers permanently inscribed on a visible metal area of said firearm, rifle or shotgun, and the manufacturer of said firearm, rifle or shotgun shall keep records of said serial numbers and the dealer, distributor or person to whom the firearm, rifle or shotgun was sold or delivered.

No licensed dealer shall order for delivery, cause to be delivered, offer for sale or sell within the commonwealth any newly manufactured firearm, rifle or shotgun received directly from a manufacturer, wholesaler or distributor not so inscribed with a serial number nor shall any licensed manufacturer or distributor of firearms, rifles or shotguns deliver or cause to be delivered within the commonwealth any firearm, rifle or shotgun not complying with this section.

No licensed manufacturer within the commonwealth shall produce for sale within the United States, its territories or possessions any firearm, rifle or shotgun not complying with paragraph one of this section. Whoever violates this section shall be punished by a fine of five hundred dollars. Each such violation shall constitute a separate offense.

(B) All semiautomatic firearms as defined in Chapter 140 Section 21 manufactured or delivered to any licensed dealer within the commonwealth shall be capable of microstamping ammunition.

(C) For purposes of subparagraph (B), a firearm is capable of microstamping ammunition if –
(i) a microscopic array of characters that identify the make, model, and serial number of the of the firearm is etched into the breech face and firing pin of the firearm; and
(ii) when ammunition is fired from the firearm, the characters are copied from the breech face and firing pin onto the cartridge case of the ammunition.

(D) Subparagraph (B) shall apply only to semiautomatic firearms which –
(i) are manufactured, or imported into the Commonwealth on or after the effective date of this subsection;
and
(ii) have not been transferred to a person not licensed under Chapter 140 of the general laws.

(D) Whoever violates paragraph (B) shall be fined an amount equal to –
(i) in the case of a first such violation by the violator, $1,000 multiplied by the number of firearms involved in the violation;
(ii) in the case of a second violation by the violator, $2,000 multiplied by the number of firearms involved in the violation;
(iii) in the case of a third such violation by the violator, $3,000 multiplied by the number of firearms involved in the violation.

(E) The effective date of this act shall be January 1, 2012.

The NRA-ILA had this to say, in part, about the bill:

If passed, the availability of semi-automatic rifles, shotguns and handguns in Massachusetts could be in jeopardy, as manufacturers simply may choose not to build or sell firearms for purchase in the state. In fact, this bill would likely create a de facto ban on new semi-automatic firearms.

Unless I am misunderstanding the language of this bill, both Smith & Wesson and Savage would be impacted by this bill as they both have manufacturing operations in the state and both make semi-automatic firearms.

Smith & Wesson would feel the heavier impact as they manufacture more semi-autos. Given that they were given a grant by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to expand operations in Springfield while at the same time closing their Thompson-Center plant in New Hampshire just a couple of months ago, one must wonder if they are having second thoughts.

As it is, microstamping is an unproven, untested, and unreliable technology that can be defeated with a common nail file. If the true intent of Rep. Linsky and his fellow compatriots was to drive the gun makers out of the Commonwealth and kill job creation in Massachusetts, then they just might succeed if this bill passes.

NRA – CRPA Comments on Microstamping to Cal DOJ

From C. D. Michel at CalGunsLaw:

Lawyers for the NRA and CRPA Foundation have submitted another set of comments to the California Department of Justice (“DOJ”) opposing DOJ’s recently revised proposed regulations requiring new handgun models sold in California to be equipped with a “microstamping” mechanism. If adopted, the new regulations may be used to implement AB 1471, which requires that after January 1, 2010, all semiautomatic pistols not already listed on the roster of handguns approved for sale by firearm retailers be “designed and equipped” with microstamping technology.


The law only takes effect “provided that the Department of Justice certifies that the technology used to create the imprint is available to more than one manufacturer unencumbered by any patent restrictions.” The current technology is not only unreliable, it is also encumbered by a patent. For those reasons, AB 1471 has yet to be implemented.


Microstamping is a theoretical process whereby a semiautomatic firearm leaves a unique imprint on each ammunition casing ejected from the firearm upon discharging it. Given the lack of available micro-stamping technology, these proposed regulations are completely unnecessary. The NRA & CRPAF are objecting to the DOJ even engaging in the rulemaking process at this time for this reason and others.


The NRA & CRPA letter to the DOJ is posted here. The NRA and CRPA submitted a similar letter to the DOJ on February 15, 2010 during the initial comment period, but the DOJ has nonetheless insisted on proceeding with the rulemaking process.

The most recent letter to the California DOJ can be found here. The earlier letter may be found here.