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March 31, 2014

NSSF, SAAMI Seek Injunction to Stop Microstamping Law

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 & Co., Inc. 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.

See additional Fast Facts backgrounder on  Microstamping from NSSF.

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