A bill introduced by the California General Assembly aims to force gun manufacturers to “microstamp” all handguns sold to law enforcement, including guns that were previously exempt.
The AP reported that gun control advocates and lawmakers are pushing the bill to force gun manufacturers into complying with a 2007 law that mandates the individual identifiers on bullet casings.
According to The Center Square, the 2007 Unsafe Handguns Act requires that all new handgun models sold in the state be microstamped – a ballistics identification technology that utilizes microscopic engravings on the inside of a weapon that can uniquely identify and trace the weapon’s last registered owner.
The AP called the law “toothless,” as officers’ current weapons are exempt from the law, and no new models have been introduced into the California market since 2007 as a way to avoid the restriction.
The new bill aims to remove the exemption and force police officers into the market to buy weapons that have been microstamped, a costly procedure that gun manufacturers have been reluctant to implement based on claims that the technology is unreliable. The bill’s sponsor, Democrat Jesse Gabriel, said the bill is intended to force manufacturers into adding the technology.
“For too long, gun manufacturers have prioritized ideology over safety and fought commonsense efforts to incorporate microstamping technology into new firearms,” he said in a news release. “Our legislation will allow California to use its market power to overcome this obstinance and dramatically expand the use of this important technology.”
Gabriel added that the technology would benefit law enforcement by helping them in their investigations.
However, opponents of the bill say the technology is “unworkable” and costly. The National Sports Shooting Foundation (NSSF), a trade association for the firearm industry, said the technology can easily be defeated by sanding away the microstamp on the firing pin. They also say that the microstamp wears off quickly due to the thousands of rounds fired by officers and deputies during training.
Mark Oliva, spokesman for the NSSF said it could take up to 10 bullet casings to piece together one complete digital identifier that could determine the weapon that fired the bullets.
“It sounds great on paper but … it doesn’t hold up. All it does is infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens and make firearms unavailable to them,” Oliva said.
Then there is the cost factor. The NSSF estimates that microstamping increases the cost of a handgun by $200 dollars. According to The Center Square, officers receive an equipment allowance added to their pay check and replace their weapons every 2-3 years at a cost of $600-800. With around 80,000 officers in California, the additional equipment cost due to microstamping could be significant to taxpayers.
Associations representing sheriffs, police chiefs and rank-and-file officers said they were reviewing the proposed legislation.