Case Against California's Insane Microstamping Law Moves Forward

The State of California would require firearms manufacturers to use technology that doesn’t exist in order to satisfy a totalitarian fantasy. The industry fired back with a lawsuit challenging the impossibility of complying with the law, which was dismissed by a flaky California judge. A wiser appellate court capable of understanding that laws can’t make fantasy become reality is now reversing that dismissal, according to a press release from the NSSF.

A California Appellate Court has reversed the Fresno Superior Court’s dismissal of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI) lawsuit seeking an injunction to block enforcement of the state’s ammunition microstamping law and remanded the case back to the lower court to hear arguments.

“We are pleased by today’s ruling because it means we will now be able to prove in court that this ill-considered law must be enjoined because it is literally impossible to comply with its requirements, and the law never requires the impossible. We have long maintained that this nascent, unproven and unreliable technology should not have been mandated. When we ultimately prevail in this case, law-abiding consumers in California will once again be able to purchase new models of pistols this law currently prevents our industry members from selling in the state,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel.

NSSF and SAAMI filed the lawsuit on behalf of their members against the State of California in Fresno Superior Court seeking to block the enforcement of the state’s microstamping law, violations of which are a criminal offense. The state statute enacted in 2007, but not made effective until May 2013, requires that all new models of semiautomatic handguns sold in the state had to be designed to incorporate this unproven and unreliable microstamping technology. 

Under this law, firearms manufacturers would have to micro laser-engrave a gun’s make, model and serial number on two distinct parts of each handgun so that, in theory, this information would be imprinted on the cartridge casing when the pistol is fired.

“There is no existing microstamping technology that meets the requirement of this ill-considered law. It is not technologically possible to microstamp two locations in the gun and have the required information imprint onto the cartridge casing. In addition, the current state of the technology cannot reliably, consistently and legibly imprint on the cartridge primer the required identifying information from the tip of the firing pin, the only possible location where it is possible to micro-laser engrave the information,” said Keane.

In 2007, California Assembly Bill 1471 was passed and signed into law requiring microstamping on internal parts of new semiautomatic pistols. The legislation provided that this requirement would only became effective if the California Department of Justice certified that the microstamping technology is available to more than one manufacturer unencumbered by patent restrictions. The California legislature subsequently reorganized certain statutes concerning the regulation of firearms, including the microstamping law in 2010. On May 17, 2013, Attorney General Kamala D. Harris provided such certification. Harris was elected to the U.S. Senate in November.

We hammered the idiocy of the California microstamping law just over a month ago, while the clueless editors of the Los Angeles Times were singing its praises.

For those of us that actually know a few things about firearms, microstamping makes about as much sense as putting serial numbers on toilet paper squares or regulating unicorn farts.

The California Democrats who pushed the Crime Gun Identification Act knew that microstamping is a commercial impossibility with existing technology. They also were aware of the many ways in which this fantasy technology would fail or actually complicate the lives of law enforcement officers, and actually reduce the likelihood of getting convictions, when they pushed for the law.

So why would California Democrats force through a law mandating a technology that doesn’t exist in a viable form, and which can’t work in the real world?

That’s simple: by requiring a technology that doesn’t exist, they have created the circumstance that will eventually ban all handguns in California.


California’s Democrat Party is rabidly anti-gun, doing everything in their power to eviscerate the right to bear arms for the 55 million citizens of their state, with wave after wave of patently absurd legislation that forces law-abiding citizens to jump through hoops to enjoy the shooting sports or defend their families.

Meanwhile, they’ve only paid lip-service to putting violent criminals behind bars for long lengths of time, and have made no attempt to gut the culture of gang violence that drives criminal homicides in the state, or deport tens of thousands of foreign criminals from their proud “sanctuary cities.”

The microstamping law was designed to force gun manufacturers to leave the state, and exists for no other reason. It must be defeated.