California Microstamping

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Within the firearms world, rumor mills have been swirling recently about Ruger pulling out of the California marketplace because of California's micro-stamping law. However, Ruger CEO set the record straight by saying that Ruger intends to stay in California. You can check out what he said in the video below.

All signs indicate that Ruger intends to fight the legislation with the NRA and other gun rights groups.

We know California has been home to some of the most extreme anti-gun legislation in the country, and I cite Proposition H in San Francisco, a 2005 law which not only banned the sale of firearms, but also required anyone who is not associated with law enforcement to hand their guns over to the police. As expected, this local law was struck down by the California State of Appeals, but it is indicative of a larger trend of constantly subverting the rights of gun owners at every turn. Prop H in California was so overt and over the top it was bound to go down in flames, but there are covert laws that are slowly designed to wither away gun rights. However, this issue isn't just about California; there is a concerted effort on the state, local and national levels to impose blanket gun restrictions, and micro-stamping is just one method of doing so.


The micro-stamp law was signed into law by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2007, and is now beginning to take effect due to the expiration of private patents. It is a process that uses lasers to engrave information like the make and model of a gun, along with serial number on the firing pin. According to California Attorney General Kamala Lee Harris, the legislation is a way for police to trace guns that were used in crime scenes, and to get illegal guns off the street. Even though this law is said to only target new semi-automatic handguns, this could essentially push newly manufactured semi-autos from of the California market.

California Attorney General Kamala Lee Harris. Photo from Huffington Post

New York has also been pushing similar piece of gun legislation (a bill that has failed to pass year after year) to micro-stamp ammunition. In theory, when the gun is fired, engravings would go on the casings and the round itself.

Since the micro-stamping requirement is an expensive burden that could not only cost thousands of jobs in the firearms, but it will also make firearms in general more expensive, and manufacturers would simply switch to another state with less stringent laws. These types of laws are always masqueraded as making the jobs of law enforcement officials much easier, but they rarely work, since criminals do not follow laws, and there are easy ways of skirting around this micro-stamping tactic.

It doesn't work and here's why...

There are a variety of tools to etch out the micro-stamping, along with simply switching the firing pins. And, according to unbiased reviews, it is an all-around ineffective way of solving crime. One of the problems is that very few crime labs have the imaging technology suited to read the numbers, and there is no real solution in keeping costs down for taxpayers and gun owners as the full force of the law comes into effect. And, aside from the poor transferability of identifying numbers, alpha-numeric codes tend to be ineligible, which requires Scanning Electron Microscopes (SEM), which is even more expensive.

The law is just another instance where law-abiding gun owners are being punished for the actions of criminals, and it is also a veiled attempt to make firearms purchasing that much harder, and to limit the sale of firearms in the state of California.

Even though this is a seven-year old law, it appears this battle is just beginning.

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