New York microstamping law not ready for prime time

Julie Jacobson

It’s hard to keep track of all of the gun control laws that have been passed by New York lawmakers over the past couple of years, so if you’d forgotten that Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a bill requiring all new handguns sold in the state to be microstamped back in 2022, you’re not alone. But according to Gothamist, plans to rollout the new mandate are inching along, though a task force set up to determine the technology’s feasibility has already blown past one deadline.


Last June, Gov. Kathy Hochul and state lawmakers made New York the second state in the country to approve a measure requiring microstamping technology — in which a small, unique code is etched into bullet casings when they’re fired — in new semiautomatic pistols. The bill’s passage came amid worries over instances of gun violence statewide.

But the law came with a major caveat: Four years before the measure takes effect, the state Division of Criminal Justice Services must certify whether microstamping is “technologically viable.” Under the law, that was supposed to happen within 180 days of Hochul’s signature — which put the deadline in December 2022.

But DCJS missed that deadline and continues to study the technology— which means the four-year clock for the law to take effect hasn’t started yet.

Janine Kava, the DCJS spokesperson, said the division’s Office of Forensic Services has convened a working group to make the microstamping determination. The group’s goal is to finish its work and make a final decision before the end of the year, according to Kava.

“To date, this working group has compiled and reviewed scientific materials, held discussions with various stakeholders, and requested additional information,” she said in a statement. “However, given the scope of the inquiry and the volume of data to review, DCJS is continuing to determine whether such technology is viable.”


It’s going to take this task force 18 months to figure out that microstamping is unfeasible and unworkable? Pretty sure the Office of Forensic Services could have just taken a gander at California’s experience with its own microstamping mandate, which has yet to lead to a single microstamped firearm offered for sale despite being in place for a decade.

Not only has California’s law not resulted in any new models of handguns produced with microstamped features, its constitutionality was questioned by a federal judge who granted an injunction against that requirement and several other features of the Safe Handgun Act earlier this year.

In his ruling, [U.S. District Judge Cormac] Carney pointed out that California’s requirements have a “devastating impact” on Californians’ ability to acquire “new, state-of-the-art” handguns; noting that no new models of handguns have been made available for sale in the state for the past ten years thanks to the microstamping requirement. The judge went on to declare that the challenged provisions of the UHA are “not consistent with this Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation” and excoriated the state for preventing residents from accessing commonly owned firearms available in almost every other jurisdiction across the country.


Clearly New York was hoping to put the same kind of restrictions in place in order to limit the availability of the most common self-defense firearm in the country, but thanks to the state’s bureaucracy they’ve been unable to move forward. Whenever the Division of Criminal Justice Services does get around to issuing its findings, they’re likely to disappoint the anti-gun politicians who approved the law, but it wouldn’t be the first time that New York politicians have written gun control laws that the state couldn’t comply with. The SAFE Act, approved in 2013, required the state to start doing background checks on all ammunition purchases, but that provision was quietly dropped a couple of years later because of “feasibility” concerns. Hochul has revived that portion of the SAFE Act and all ammo purchases are supposed to have a NICS check conducted starting in September of this year, but that too is likely to be pushed back once again because the federal NICS system is not set up to process checks on ammunition sales.

New York’s war on the right to keep and bear arms isn’t going that well, but the anti-gunners in Albany aren’t going to wave the white flag anytime soon. Even if the DCJS determines microstamping is unfeasible, lawmakers will be back with another attempt to curtail our fundamental right to self-defense, and Second Amendment advocates will be back in court to overturn their unconstitutional actions.



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