California finally ditches microstamping rule

AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File

The state of California has a lot of stupid rules about guns. As it’s the most anti-gun state in the nation, that’s hardly shocking.

One of the worst was the whole “microstamping” thing.


It’s a technology that isn’t ready for primetime and likely never will be. Even if it were, it’s also easily defeated, making the rule nothing more than a way to make it harder for people in the state to buy guns.

And, it seems that it’s in the past.

From The Reload:

California has appealed a federal judge’s ruling against its pistol restrictions, but it isn’t asking to keep one aspect of its law in effect as the case plays out.

On Monday, California Attorney General Rob Bonta (D.) asked the Ninth Circuit to review a lower court ruling blocking the state’s “Unsafe Handgun Act.” The appeal also requests an emergency stay on the part of the decision that affects the requirement new handgun models be equipped with a loaded chamber indicator and magazine disconnect safety. However, it did not ask the court to reinstate the microstamping requirement.

“California’s commonsense gun safety laws save lives, and the Unsafe Handgun Act is no exception,” Bonta said in a statement. “Accidental shootings are preventable.”

The retreat on microstamping represents a rare concession from California, which has among the strictest gun laws in the country and has long faced legal challenges over them. It may reflect the state’s top lawyers attempting to adapt to the shifting legal landscape surrounding gun restrictions in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s 2022 New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen ruling. As the state defends itself against an ever-increasing collection of gun-rights suits, it may give up on some of its most aggressive restrictions.


In theory, California law required microstamping on all firearms sold in the state starting in 2013. The problem is that there’s no firearm produced with that technology and the firearm industry says that it’s not possible to do in the first place.

While the state is still trying to push it’s rather idiotic law restricting guns sold in the state to those that exist on a list–and there is an ever-dwindling number of them still being produced–the fact that California is backing off on the microstamping tells you a lot.

As Stephen Gutowski, who wrote the above-quoted section notes, Bruen is likely playing a role.

The truth is that the requirement California wants is indefensible by the text and history standard. There’s not likely to be anything anywhere that will support that, so ditching it was a smart move on the part of Bonta.

Unfortunately, that’s the end of his smart moves.

I find it very unlikely that the court will uphold the rest of the law under those same standards. In fact, I’m fascinated to see how California defends the law, because I can’t imagine any historical law from the time of the Founders that only permits the sale of firearms with certain features only.


Still, at least the microstamping thing is relegated to the dustbin of horrible ideas.

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