California Microstamping Law Not In Effect

Flawed Technology Remains Encumbered by Patents

Firearms microstamping, signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.) in October 2007 and slated to take effect this New Year's Day (2010), is not in effect since the technology remains encumbered by patents. Microstamping -- the process by which firearms manufacturers would have to micro laser-engrave a gun's make, model and serial number on two distinct parts of each gun, including the firing pin, so that in theory the information would be imprinted on the cartridge casing when the pistol is fired -- must be certified as patent-free by the California Department of Justice before the law can go into effect.

Though microstamping cannot be certified because the technology remains covered by patents, last month the California Department of Justice issued proposed regulations for the technology, a move that was questioned by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) -- the trade association for the firearms industry.

"In the midst of California's budget crisis and despite the possibility this law may never go into effect -- as the technology remains encumbered by patents -- one has to question the decision by the California Department of Justice to spend its time and limited resources on drafting regulations for the flawed technology," said NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Lawrence G. Keane.

Opposition to microstamping has intensified as manufacturers have indicated the new law would force them to raise prices of guns significantly. Estimates of price increases go as high as $200 per firearm, as the unreliable technology would require a complete reconfiguring of the manufacturing and assembly processes.

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