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June 14, 2012

NSSF Responds to The Times on Microstamping

In response to an unbalanced article appearing in The New York Times yesterday on microstamping, NSSF has submitted the letter below. Since this post is not restricted by The Times’ 150-word letter limit, we can also provide you with additional facts about microstamping, much as we did The Times’ reporter, who unfortunately, but predictably, chose to ignore key findings of independent, peer-reviewed studies about microstamping that establish it is an unreliable, patented, sole-sourced concept and one that can be easily defeated by criminals in mere seconds using common household items like a emery board, coarse sandpaper or a file.  It would cost manufacturers millions to implement microstamping and raise the price of firearms by at least $200 per gun.  In theory, this concept would help law enforcement connect fired cartridge casings with guns used by criminals to solve crimes, but in reality many who have tested the concept, including the patent holder, Todd Lizotte, have proven that microstamping is unreliable.  NSSF agrees with the recommendations of the independent studies and the patent holder that microstamping requires additional research and should not be legislatively mandated.  That is why we, along with ATF, law enforcement groups including the Fraternal Order of Police and the association of ballistics firearms examiners, all support a federally-funded study of the concept.

New York is one of a number of states where microstamping legislation has been introduced. California and the District of Columbia have passed such legislation, though neither has implemented the law.  In fact, in the District of Columbia the police chief Kathy Lanier and Josh Hortwitz, an antigun advocated with the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV), both testified in opposition to implementing microstamping.

Microstamping is a threat to our industry and to gun owners.  The truth is it is a gun ban.  Manufacturers have said it would make more financial sense to abandon the New York market instead of incurring the massive cost to implement this flawed and unreliable concept.

The Folly of Microstamping

To the Editor:

New York State should not repeat using an unproven concept to track firearms. Ten years ago, the state chose to rely on ballistics imaging to connect shell casings with guns used by criminals. Millions were spent, yet not a single crime was solved. The program was repealed this year.

Microstamping would be the next costly folly. Your article (“Method to Track Firearm Use Stalled by Foes,” June 12) ignored key facts about this unproven concept that relies on laser engraving a gun’s firing pin for identification purposes. Even the patent holder, who is quoted, has recently said his concept requires further research. Several independent studies reached the same conclusion and, like the patent holder, recommend against legislative mandates. We agree.

Additionally, the engraving can be easily defeated with common tools. The patent holder has a huge economic incentive for this sole-sourced technology to be adopted. And our industry, rather than being obstructionist, supports a federal study of microstamping.


Lawrence G. Keane
NSSF Senior Vice President & General Counsel

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Categories: Government Relations, Hunting, Industry News, Media Inaccuracies, Shooting, Top Stories