Microstamping Law Forces Smith & Wesson to Stop Selling New Guns in California

Leah Barkoukis

1/23/2014 8:23:00 PM - Leah Barkoukis

Smith & Wesson announced Wednesday that it would rather stop selling its handguns in California than comply with the state’s new microstamping law, which “requires that all new semi-automatic pistols that are not already on the state’s approved gun roster have the microstamping technology,” The Washington Times reports.

AWR Hawkins explains what the technology is:

Microstamping is a requirement that each firearm be fitted with a special firing pin that leaves a fingerprint on a bullet casing which differs from the fingerprint of every other firearm. In other words--every one of the wildly popular Smith & Wesson M&P .45 semi-automatic handguns would have to be manufactured in such a way so that no two of them left the same mark on a shell casing.

However, independent studies have shown that microstamping is unreliable and ineffective for law enforcement, not to mention costly for manufacturers.

“As our products fall off the roster due to California’s interpretation of the Unsafe Handgun Act, we will continue to work with the NRA and the NSSF to oppose this poorly conceived law which mandates the unproven and unreliable concept of microstamping and makes it impossible for Californians to have access to the best products with the latest innovations,” Smith & Wesson President and CEO James Debney said, the Times reports.

California isn’t the only place to have mandated this technology, however.

The District of Columbia is the only other place in the country that has mandated microstamping. It was supposed to go into effect on Jan. 1, but the city council passed an emergency measure in December to postpone it until 2016.

A spokesman for Phil Mendelson, the city council chairman who wrote the D.C. law, told me that, “The decision to delay was made recently in order to piggyback on the California program and create more of a market for gun manufacturers.”

In other words, there were no manufacturers willing to stick this unproven contraption on their firearms, which meant no new ones could be sold in the city.

Second Amendment advocates and those in the firearms industry recognize that the new technology is nothing less than a ban on guns.

“We’re being forced out of the state by the California Department of Justice,” Ruger CEO Mike Fifer told Guns.com. “This insistence on microstamping, which doesn’t work, is denying you your rights to have access to these guns.”

Ruger also announced this month that it will stop offering new semi-automatic firearms in California.