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June 22, 2012

Microstamping Dies in New York, Again

Despite being backed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and gun-control groups like the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, New York state’s microstamping bill failed to pass the full legislature for the fifth consecutive year. The state’s general assembly, which is dominated by downstate, anti-gun urban legislators, did approve the bill on Tuesday by an 85-60 vote. While passage very late in the general assembly legislative session is not surprising, what is noteworthy is the fact that support in the chamber for the bill continues to erode, as there were five more votes against the bill than last year. As Emily Miller of The Washington Times notes in her column on the politics behind microstamping, the state senate did not take up the bill on its final day of the legislative session, putting an end to a sneaky backdoor attempt to ban handguns in the Empire State.

The concept of microstamping involves the costly process of micro laser-engraving a unique code on the firing pin of a gun so that when the gun is fired the code is transferred to primer of the cartridge casing. Theoretically, this would allow law enforcement to trace the firearm used in a crime by reading the code on a spent cartridge casing recovered at a crime scene. Several independent, peer-reviewed studies, however, including one by the National Academy of Sciences, have concluded that microstamping is flawed and unreliable, can be easily circumvented in mere seconds by filing down the code using common household items and is even compromised by the wear caused by normal use of the firearm.

Earlier in the week, a Baltimore Sun editorial unwisely suggested that Maryland follow New York’s lead in attempting to adopt microstamping, a suggestion which drew a published response from Jeff Reh, general counsel and vice-general manager at Maryland-based Beretta USA, who noted in his letter that implementing microstamping would be cost prohibitive to both manufacturers and to gun buyers. “The cost of $12 per gun comes from advocates of the technology. Firearm manufacturers estimate the cost at around $200 per gun,” he wrote.

Two firearms companies with manufacturing facilities in New York—Remington and Kimber—have said they would review their commitment to the state if microstamping were passed. Also, if the bill was approved,New York state gun owners would not be able to purchase firearms that were not microstamped, which is why NSSF and others refer to this devious legislation as a gun-ban effort.

Finally, during a debate on microstamping on MSNBC, Brady Center President Dan Gross hurled this insult at firearms manufacturers, saying, “This is an industry that at all costs wants to protect its profits, and it does it at the cost of human lives.” Go to the 5:00 mark in the video to hear it. His comment sounds more like a 1960’s cliché than a serious argument. The question we would have for Mr. Gross is why doesn’t the Brady Center join the NSSF, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Association of Firearm and Toolmark Examiners in supporting a federally-funded study of microstamping?

Members of our industry who make and sell products that people around the world own in order to protect their lives should be aware of this highly offensive remark from the leader of this anti-gun group.

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