Industry To California: “No” To Microstamping
In January, the firearms industry sent a clear message to California: “Microstamping doesn’t work. Manufacturers can’t comply. We’re suing you.” Reinforcing the message, Ruger and Smith & Wesson announced they would not include microstamping on their firearms.
On Jan. 9, the NSSF and SAAMI (Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute) filed a lawsuit on behalf of its members against the State of California challenging the state’s microstamping law.
The law, enacted in 2007, became effective in May 2013. It requires all semiautomatic pistols not already on California’s approved handgun roster to include microstamping. To comply, firearms manufacturers must microlaser-engrave a gun’s make, model and serial number on two distinct parts of each gun, including the firing pin. The theory: The information would be imprinted on the cartridge casing when the pistol is fired.
A twist in the law, seen as a move to eliminate all new pistols for sale in California, is its application to firearms already on California’s approved list. If a manufacturer updates a firearm that’s on the list, it must include microstamping features to be recertified.
“There is no existing microstamping technology that will reliably, consistently and legibly imprint the required identifying information by a semiautomatic handgun on the ammunition it fires,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior VP 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.”
Keene points out that a National Academy of Science review, forensic firearms examiners and a University of California, Davis study reached the same conclusion. Technical experts in the firearms industry also agree.
“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. As a result, we are seeking both declaratory and injunctive relief against this back-door attempt to prevent the sale of new semiautomatic handguns to law-abiding citizens in California,” Keene said.
Ruger and Smith & Wesson followed the announcement of the NSSF lawsuit with strong statements, indicating they would not adopt microstamping.
“Ruger is committed to its customers in California. Unfortunately, the ill-conceived law requiring the incorporation of microstamping technology into semiautomatic pistols is forcing Ruger pistols off the Roster of Handguns Certified for Sale in California,” Ruger said in a statement. “We are working hard to serve our customers in California and will do all we can to fight this draconian law.”
The statement said Ruger has continued to submit pistols to the independent test lab for testing, and those pistols meet all the requirements of California that were in effect when the pistols first appeared on the roster — everything except microstamping.
“We have been informed by the lab that the California DOJ (Department of Justice) will not even consider these ‘new’ pistols for inclusion on the roster unless they satisfy the microstamping regulations, which numerous studies have found unworkable. Until microstamping is repealed, we expect that Ruger pistols — some of the safest available — will continue to be forced off the roster,” the statement concluded.
Smith & Wesson also said all of the company’s semiautomatics are at risk of eventually falling off the roster, except the M&P Shield and SDVE pistols. S&W says the two pistols are expected to remain on the California roster since the company does not plan to make changes to them. That would require recertification, including the microstamping requirement.
“As our products fall off the roster due to California’s interpretation of the Unsafe Handgun Act, we will continue to work with
Strategic Armory Acquires McMillan Firearms
Strategic Armory Corps has acquired McMillan Firearms, manufacturer of tactical and hunting rifles. The sale does not include McMillan Fiberglass Stocks or McMillan Merchant Solutions, which will continue to be operated by McMillan Group International.
“The acquisition of McMillan Firearms is consistent with our focus on acquiring the highest-quality manufacturers of premium firearms,” said Mark Johnson, Strategic Armory Corps CEO. “This transaction provides the perfect product line complement to the ArmaLite and Surgeon Rifles product lines, and will allow us to more effectively serve the needs of the custom bolt-action rifle enthusiast.”
“Both Ryan [McMillan] and I will continue on as long-term consultants with McMillan Firearms. We are proud of our heritage and are confident that Strategic Armory Corps will continue to build the highest-quality firearms for our valued customers,” said Kelly McMillan, McMillan Group International president.
Strategic Armory Corps is based in Phoenix, Ariz. In July 2013, the company acquired ArmaLite Inc.
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