In 2005 the Republican Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, signed AB50. This bill banned the sale of .50 caliber rifles in my state. Evidently these unwieldy forty pound monstrosities which are terrific for hobbyists out in the desert honing their sharpshooting skills were to become the preferred weapon for gang members and bank robbers as they are so easy to transport and conceal; and cheap too, about $7,000.00 a pop (just what hoodlums are looking for).
The California Governor’s action cautioned of a hostility toward conservative principles that would manifest itself in coming years and revealed that his party affiliation was nothing more than a calculated and politically expedient choice to run for office.
When men like these call themselves “Republican” we shouldn’t be surprised when the American people reject others with that moniker striving for high office. The argument, “Well at least he’s not as bad as the other guy”, doesn’t get the needed voters to the polls.
In 2006 the senior Senator from my state, Dianne Feinstein, lamented, “The threat posed by the easy availability of the .50-caliber sniper rifle could endanger our border patrol agents and hinder our ability to control our borders.”
Imagine that? Senator Feinstein is suddenly concerned about controlling our borders!?
Feinstein declares, “We only want common sense gun legislation!”
Just in case you have not been paying attention, “common sense gun legislation” means banning all semi-automatic weapons and all handguns. If politicians like Feinstein and Schwarzenegger can’t get these bans outright, they’ll get them by making firearms so expensive and so difficult to manufacture that high costs will stop the industry in its tracks.
On January 1, 2006 new regulations went into effect supported by our governor. Since then only two new pistols have been approved to be sold in the state, the Ruger SR9 and the FMK 9C1 manufactured by my company. On September 11, 2009, FMK Firearms became only the second company to manufacture a semi-automatic pistol to pass the 2006 specifications.
Today any new pistol sold (or manufactured) in California must have a chamber load indicator and a magazine disconnect. Without these features the gun is considered unsafe and illegal to sell in California, however, many guns are currently available for purchase in California without these features. Any products which existed for sale in California prior to January 1, 2006 and were on DOJ’s Centralized List are considered “safe” and any introduced afterward even with identical features are determined to be “unsafe”. A peculiar method in which to determine whether or not a product is safe—if you ask me.
At first glance, it might not seem such a huge hurdle to add a chamber load indicator and mag-out safety to a firearm. A handgun is a fairly small device with scant room for added features, here are the specifications:
(d)(1) A functioning chamber load indicator must meet all of the following conditions:
(A) Explanatory text and/or graphics either incorporated within the chamber load indicator or adjacent to the chamber load indicator is/are permanently displayed by engraving, stamping, etching, molding, casting, or other means of permanent marking.
(B) Each letter of explanatory text must have a minimum height of 1/16 inch.
(C) The explanatory text and/or graphics shall be of a distinct visual contrast to that of the firearm.
(D) The “loaded” indication, that portion of the chamber load indicator that visually indicates there is a round in the chamber, shall be of a distinct color contrast to the firearm.
(E) Only when there is a round in the chamber, the “loaded” indication is visible on the firearm from a distance of at least twenty-four inches. When there is no round in the chamber, the “loaded” indication must not be visible.
(F) The text and/or graphics and the “loaded” indication together inform a reasonably foreseeable adult user of the pistol, that a round is in the chamber, without requiring the user to refer to a user’s manual or any other resource other than the pistol itself.”
These features don’t seem so difficult until you start trying to incorporate them. When you do, you’ll understand why only one handgun was approved in three years.
Most gun companies have completely abandoned the idea of introducing any new products in California. Meanwhile, California lawmakers are just getting warmed up. Our governor has already signed legislation which will demand all semi-automatic pistols sold after 2010 incorporate micro-stamping technology (although there is a caveat in the law which states “if technology is available”).
Micro-stamping requires a $100,000 machine capable of engraving tiny letters, the make, model, and serial number of a particular handgun, all on the head of a firing pin and some other component which will “transfer” the information to the cartridge when fired.
I have experimented with this technology and can tell you it is dubious at best. Even if this process can be accomplished reliably (unlikely), these markings can easily be removed by rubbing the front end of the striker or firing pin on a grinding wheel or deburring wheel. I can accomplish the whole removal process in about thirty seconds, and that includes time required disassembling and reassembling the firearm.
This technology provides no barrier to any would be criminals, but it provides huge barriers to manufacturers who must procure the aforementioned equipment, and must also now manage the logistics of controlling more serialized parts. Gun parts such as springs, triggers, etc. are just parts and require no special security or control; however, as soon as a part becomes serialized it requires complete security and traceability and this means more management and greater cost.
None of this legislation is about insuring public safety. If it were, all guns that don’t meet the current “safe” requirements would be disallowed from sale in California, but as previously mentioned, “unsafe” is not determined by a pistol’s features, “unsafe” is determined by whether or not a particular model was on the roster prior to January 1, 2006.
“I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.” – James Madison
California’s gun legislation is designed in a deliberate and systematic method in which gun possession can progressively be reduced among the populace by increasing costs, harassing manufacturers, and limiting availability.
What California legislators have managed is a blueprint for gun elimination over a protracted period of time where the populace will become worn down and apathetic because it just isn’t worth the effort to fight. Legislators won’t directly confront our right to bear arms; they will only erode our access to them. In the last fifteen years, the number of gun dealers in our state has decreased by half. Any industry requires new products to keep it vibrant, if you can stop new product introduction, you can kill the industry.
While District of Columbia vs. Heller has uplifted the spirits of 2nd Amendment supporters (and Bill of Rights supporters for that matter) there is fear we are being lulled into a false sense of security. Even after Heller, the City of Washington D.C. is still preventing citizens from obtaining firearms, and many other cities, including New York, Chicago, and San Francisco maintain draconian gun laws.
When legislators proclaim, “Does anyone really need a .50 caliber sniper rifle?” The response must be does anyone really need a Cadillac? Does anyone really need a plasma TV? (California is regulating these now as well.) Does anyone really need toast?
How about freedom Mr. Legislator, does anyone really need freedom? How long, Mr. Legislator, will it be before you query, does anyone really need a .45?
FMK Firearms can be viewed at www.fmkfirearms.com.