The Supreme Court of California upheld a micro-stamping requirement for semiautomatic handguns Thursday — even though the technology does not exist to allow manufacturers to comply.
The Associated Press summed up the court’s ruling: “The California Supreme Court says state laws cannot be invalidated on the grounds that complying with them is impossible.”
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — In ruling on bullet-stamping law, California Supreme Court says state laws cannot be invalidated on the grounds that complying with them is impossible.
— Juliet Williams (@JWilliamsAP) June 28, 2018
The micro-stamping requirement, or “bullet stamping law,” as it is sometimes called, requires that semiautomatic handguns sold in California have a special, one-of-kind marker affixed to their firing pins so a special fingerprint is left on each spent shell casing. The idea is to give law enforcement a means to take shell casings from a crime scene and trace them back to the firearm’s owner.
Many problems exist with this proposed scenario. First, the technology does not exist. No manufacturer who is importing guns into California makes a firearm that puts a special mark on spent shell casings.
Second, if the technology did exist, it would easy to defeat by simply scratching the mark off the firing pin or replacing the factory firing pin.
Third, an even easier way to defeat it would be to use a revolver instead instead of a semi-automatic. (Revolvers do not leave behind spent shell casings).
On April 5, 2018, the Los Angeles Times’ Daily Pilot addressed the micro-stamping requirement, noting that “the technology is wholly unreliable and prohibitively expensive.” The Pilot noted, “Each time a gun is fired, it wears slightly, leaving a micro-stamp unreadable after a short period of normal use.”
In sum, micro-stamping technology is theoretical at best, yet California’s highest court did not see this as grounds for dismissing the law.
AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News, the host of the Breitbart podcast Bullets with AWR Hawkins, and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange.