NSSF: California Court Reverses Decision on Microstamping Law

The National Shooting Sports Foundation released the following press release in response to the California Appellate Court reversing the original dismissal of the NSSF and SAAMI challenge to California’s Microstamping law.

California Appellate Court Reverses Dismissal of NSSF, SAAMI Suit to Block Enforcement of Microstamping Law

NEWTOWN, Conn. — A California Appellate Court has reversed the Fresno Superior Court’s dismissal of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI) lawsuit seeking an injunction to block enforcement of the state’s ammunition microstamping law and remanded the case back to the lower court to hear arguments.NSSF Logo

“We are pleased by today’s ruling because it means we will now be able to prove in court that this ill-considered law must be enjoined because it is literally impossible to comply with its requirements, and the law never requires the impossible. We have long maintained that this nascent, unproven and unreliable technology should not have been mandated. When we ultimately prevail in this case, law-abiding consumers in California will once again be able to purchase new models of pistols this law currently prevents our industry members from selling in the state,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel.

NSSF and SAAMI filed the lawsuit on behalf of their members against the State of California in Fresno Superior Court seeking to block the enforcement of the state’s microstamping law, violations of which are a criminal offense. The state statute enacted in 2007, but not made effective until May 2013, requires that all new models of semiautomatic handguns sold in the state had to be designed to incorporate this unproven and unreliable microstamping technology.

Under this law, firearms manufacturers would have to micro laser-engrave a gun’s make, model and serial number on two distinct parts of each handgun so that, in theory, this information would be imprinted on the cartridge casing when the pistol is fired.

“There is no existing microstamping technology that meets the requirement of this ill-considered law. It is not technologically possible to microstamp two locations in the gun and have the required information imprint onto the cartridge casing. In addition, the current state of the technology cannot reliably, consistently and legibly imprint on the cartridge primer the required identifying information from the tip of the firing pin, the only possible location where it is possible to micro-laser engrave the information,” said Keane.

In 2007, California Assembly Bill 1471 was passed and signed into law requiring microstamping on internal parts of new semiautomatic pistols. The legislation provided that this requirement would only became effective if the California Department of Justice certified that the microstamping technology is available to more than one manufacturer unencumbered by patent restrictions. The California legislature subsequently reorganized certain statutes concerning the regulation of firearms, including the microstamping law in 2010. On May 17, 2013, Attorney General Kamala D. Harris provided such certification. Harris was elected to the U.S. Senate in November.

Read the California Appellate Court Ruling.
See additional Fast Facts backgrounder on Microstamping from NSSF.

About NSSF

The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 12,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers. For more information, visit www.nssf.org.

13 Comments On This Article

  1. This was an intentional attempt to make ammo unavailable since it would be impossible to do this even with a supercomputer with auto weapons that fire 100+ rounds per minute. Even 1 round per minute would need an entire machine shop to etch the bullett each time.

    • The etching would be onto the firing pin (and, theoretically, in one other place, location unknown). The firing pin would stamp the info on the primer as it fires the cartridge. It would add no time to the cycle time. There are plenty of other criticisms that can be made, but yours, I am sorry to say, is not one of them.

      • The cartridge is contacted by the firing pin and contained by the chamber and breach face of the bolt/slide, etc. during the pressure phase of the firing cycle. The firing pin is the only device that makes a mechanical striking of the cartridge case during this cycle so any other markings must come from the action of the propellant pressure cycle to act upon the cartridge case in making the required marking. A stainless wire chamber brush and a light polishing of the tip of the firing pin and any potentially viable methods of marking the cartridge case are eliminated without impeding the function of the firearm. If these “microscopic markings” were also on the face of the bolt or slide, etc. they could easily be defeated using the same methods. The microstamping argument is a false flag intended to distract from the imminent lack of availability of compliant arms and the failed exercise of this technology in actually solving crimes. The liberal anti-gun “we can control everything” mentality is a failure of our school system to instill the skills of rational, logical thought in our progeny. This failure is evident everywhere in our society.

    • Your post is odd. You imply that people own belt fed machine guns (false), but even these cannot fire 100 rounds minute. An AR15/AR10 style rifle is semiauto (except for perhaps few thousand where the person could afford the extreme cost of a “real” assault rifle (M4/M16) and the intense scrutiny (forevermore) by the local sheriff and the ATF. Do not confuse “cyclical rate of fire” (what the mechanical parts can sustain in a theoretical exercise) with the real (non-Hollywood) rate of fire (short bursts to contain the serious heat build up). Even a .50 M2 heavy machine gun must be held to 20-30 round bursts if you want the barrel to last more than 30 minutes (I know from experience).

      All primer stampings like the authoritarian progressive-Marxists drool over will wear off rapidly, or be filed off with a 5 second use of a file. Pointless. Like all things the far left anti-gun owner crowd dreams up. California needs to be broken up into three states, and two of them (from Santa Rosa to Monterey and Santa Barbara to Oceanside, both west of Highway 5 or 99) form a new Marxist country and secede. The northern region should be called Jefferson and merge with southern Oregon (Eugene to CA).

  2. Really confuse the issue, scatter around a bunch of fired brass picked up at the range, ideally after policing your own brass.

    Or use a revolver.
    Or buy a new firing pin out of state and fit that (easy).
    Or lick the face of the pin with a dremmel.

    Laws that cannot be enforced are bad laws.


  3. Micro stamping is just some dream by someone that wants their name on a law. That person has not the slightest idea of what he/she is tlking about , of course you must forgive them after all it is California . You know that place where the only Americans left there are those has been hippy burn outs .

  4. San Francisco’s football team, the 49ers, is named after pioneers who started the town during the gold rush. It is sad and stupid that there are no gun stores in the city now.