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January 5, 2010

Questions Mount About California’s Microstamping Law

First, the state's new law requiring firearms manufacturers to laser engrave identification numbers on a gun's firing pin did not go into effect January 1 because the technology remains encumbered by patents. And now the California Police Chiefs Association raises further questions about microstamping, saying the technology needs more study and is too costly, reversing its original position of support for the legislation.

In a letter sent to state Attorney General Edmund G. Brown, CPCA Acting President Susan E. Manheimer wrote, “There are too many unanswered questions with microstamping in its current iteration” and raised concerns that "statements about the capabilities of microstamping may have been technologically premature."

Several independent, peer-reviewed studies have indicated the technology is flawed and can be easily circumvented using simple household tools. Even wear and tear caused by normal use of a firearm requires owners to replace parts such as firing pins from time to time. For these and other reasons, NSSF opposed the legislation.

Manufacturers have indicated the new law would force them to raise prices of guns significantly, or even abandon the California market rather than go through a costly reconfiguring of manufacturing and assembly processes. Estimated price increases could go as high as $200 per gun. 

Read NSSF's news release on the CPCA letter and the release about why the technology must be certified as patent-free by the California Department of Justice before the law can go into effect.

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