California "microstamping" law that requires new semi-automatic
handguns automatically imprint bullet casings with identifying
information has been upheld by the 9th circuit court of
appeals in a 2:1 split decision - despite the fact that the
technology doesn't exist, reports ABC News.
microstamping law - the first of its kind in the nation signed in
2007 by then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, took effect in 2013.
It requires that brand
new handguns sold in California imprint the gun's make, model
and serial number in "two
or more places" on each bullet casing from a
result of the new law was Smith & Wesson, Ruger and other
manufacturers opting to pull out of California.
rights advocates have slammed the law, as the
technology doesn't exist to stamp bullet casings in two places
as the law is written, and even if it did, criminals
could replace or file down the firing pin and any other
mechanism to "microstamp."
law became effective as soon as the California Department of
Justice certified that the technology used to create the imprint
was available. When this certification occurred in 2013, the
State clarified that the certification confirmed only “the lack
of any patent restrictions on the imprinting technology, not the
availability of the technology itself.” In
layman’s terms, the state was saying that nothing was stopping
someone from developing the technology, so it was “available,”
even though it wasn’t. -NRA-ILA
a result, compliance with the law's "dual placement
microstamping" requirement was both practically and legally
"impossible," according to court documents from a lawsuit
brought by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and the
Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute (SAAMI). In
support of their claim, writes the NRA Institute for Legislative
Action, the plaintiffs cited an existing provision of
California law, Civil Code section 3531, which states “[t]he law
never requires impossibilities.”
gun rights advocates say the law effectively
bans the sale of new semi-automatic handguns in the state.
what did the 9th circuit say to that?
bad - as residents can still buy used
handguns that don't carry the yet-to-be invented
microstamping technology, as
well as any guns on a pre-approved roster -
thus, the inability to buy a new semiautomatic
handgun that's not on the roster doesn't infringe on the 2nd
Amendment right to self-defense.
for the majority, Judge M. Margaret McKeown said the inability
to buy particular guns did not infringe the 2nd Amendment right
to self-defense in the home.
all of the plaintiffs admit that they are able to buy an
operable handgun suitable for self-defense — just
not the exact gun they want," she said.
joined by Judge J. Clifford Wallace, also rejected the argument
that the stamping technology was impossible to implement. -ABC
foundation executive director Brandon Combs said that the 9th
circuit used a less rigorous judicial standard in order to arrive
at its "policy preferences."
what the 9th Circuit is saying and has said in other cases
basically is as
long as a person that is law abiding has access to one handgun
inside of their home, then that's it," he said. "That's
the extent of their right. We
think that's quite wrong."
from the majority was Judge Jay Bybee, who cited conflicting
evidence over whether the microstamping technology was even
technologically feasible - and that if the state adopted an
impossible requirement that no gun manufacturer can satisfy, it
would not help the state solve handgun crimes and would
illegally restrict gun purchases.
resident Second Amendment columnist AWR Hawkins detailed
in 2015, Maryland canceled a similar "ballistic
fingerprinting" program after 15 years and $5 million dumped into
the program resulted in no crimes solved.
law did not call for "microstamping" like California's - rather it
relied on unique metallurgical "fingerprints" left behind by a
gun's firing pin. Each new gun sold in the state would need to be
fired one time, and the resulting bullet casing sent to the
state's police headquarters. Unfortunately, while the forensic
technology to match a bullet casing with a gun exists - the
computerized system designed to sort and matched images of casings
never worked - so the state canceled
course, just wait until DNA identification is implemented: