A Brilliant Maneuver on Microstamping

The CalGuns guys have prevented microstamping from taking effect in California, by renewing the patent on it. The California law requires that the technology be unencumbered by patent before it goes into effect, and the patent was about to lapse. From the Paper of Making Up the Record:

“It was a lot cheaper to keep the patent in force than to litigate over the issues,” said Gene Hoffman, the chairman of the foundation, adding that he believed the law amounted to a gun ban in California.

It even made Slashdot. Hats off to the brains behind the CalGuns Foundation for this. Gene is likely correct it would have amounted to a gun ban in California, since it’s unlikely most smaller gun makers would pay for the technology and assembly line changes just to make a gun for the California market. This would have a chilling effect on Second Amendment rights for Californians.

13 thoughts on “A Brilliant Maneuver on Microstamping”

  1. NYAGV is touting a new study, linked to in this article: http://nyagv.org/microstamping-study/

    It’s the same journal that published the Kristova paper a few years back that most of us have referenced when fighting this issue. I haven’t read the entire report so I’m not sure how this changes anything. Even if you are able to get the firing pin to reliably mark the casing, there are still myriad other issues: Did the bullet in the body come from the casing you found? How to keep people from defacing the pin? How to keep people from seeding a crime scene with bogus casings? How to not let this become a defacto registration scheme? How to keep the cost down to a manageable level? And so it goes…

    1. The real issue with Microstamping is what it could turn into. It’s much like the serial number issue. Criminals remove serial numbers from guns often enough that there’s laws against it federally and in many states, including my own.

      Eventually, criminals will learn how to get around and avoid microstamping. Unlike a serial number, which takes a good bit of grinding to get rid of, microstamping can be easily buffed off in a few minutes. Criminals will do this. You might have a few morons who don’t bother, but in the vast majority of those cases, it’s going to lead back to the last legal owner, which probably won’t help anything.

      So eventually there’s going to be pressure to make erasing microstamps a crime, and if it’s anything like serial numbers, a felony crime. The problem is, serial numbers have to be punched pretty deep. It takes a deliberate act to alter or obliterate a serial number, and it’s easy to detect.

      How will someone know whether a defaced microstamp is worn or deliberately eliminated? How can you even tell whether it’s working if you can’t see it? If I order a new pin, and it the manufacturer missstamps the number, am I risking going to prison? Who carries the burden of proving the act was deliberate? If it’s the state, the law is worthless, if it’s me, the law is evil.

      That’s not even discussing the issue of how manufacturers are supposed to track these imprints. What if they get it wrong one time out of 200. Is that one in 200 customers who are risking jail time? How do they prove it was a manufacturer’s defect. Why should the manufacturer be on the hook?

      This whole thing is just some kooky bullshit our opponents dreamt up to harass us. Fuck them. We’ll fight this.

      1. The real issue is how the NY bill is written. It would require a total redesign of all pistols. It is not a simple firing pin swap. The sponsors wrote the bill knowing it cannot be complied with thereby creating a de-facto ban on all new pistols.

        1. On the plus side, that opens them up to a Federal court challenge, if it came to that.

          Thanks to Heller they can’t just de-facto ban new pistols… at least not in the long run.

  2. I’m absolutely terrified by the comments in the NYT original piece..One guy, who is a prosecutor (surprise!), wants all guns registered, limits on ammo sales, and cameras on every street corner…w..t..f!?!

    1. He’s just restating some talking points and showing his cards a little. Luckily, this ain’t Great Britain. Yet.

  3. It’s my laymans’ opinion, but the failure in the whole identifying-the-crime-gun-through-microstamping process is that it does not match the actual bullet to the handgun, like ballistic analysis does. No technology is currently available (AFAIK) that can match the bullet to the casing.

    And since microstamping has yet to solve any crime, in the case that an individual is charged using microstamping (in the absence of the actual weapon), it would seem to be a simple matter to get the prosecutors techs to admit that they can’t match the bullet to the case.

    1. Yeah, I don’t think matching a casing at the scene to an owner will ever hold up as evidence of a crime. At best it is a lead, and/or it leads to recovery of the gun for actual ballistics testing.

      There are a myriad of reasons why this law is just plain awful. Not working is a big one. Easily to defeat is also huge. Then there is cost. But for me the main reason is that it is a ban on all non-mircostamped guns. There is very good indication that it will simply be a ban on all semi-automatic handguns anyplace it is enacted, and if not will amount to a severe limitation on selection (say 80-90% of models being banned). DC enacted a microstamping bill in 2009 (ironically, they were still banning all semi-automatic handguns that it would apply to anyway- even though it was post Heller). What manufacturer is going to specially make a gun just for the DC market? None- the economics won’t work. So it will amount to a total ban on whatever DC requires manufacturers to do.

  4. My understanding of one aspect of microstamping’s failure is also that the stamp quickly erodes and becomes indistinguishable – it’s self destructive.
    Will they make a law that requires periodic stamp-examination – and a new-stamp Tax? How ironic.

    1. The simple answer is to ration how much we can fire the gun. Only 100 times a year, and then we have to get it re-micro-stamped.

  5. I am one who absolutely hates patents, with a passion! Even so, I can’t help but be very, very pleased at this application of a single patent!

    I have mixed feelings about delaying the litigation, though. It would be nice to attack gun laws on yet another front…but then, this will allow us to save up for the inevitable battles, or better yet, to use the money NOW, fighting other battles.

    Good job, Calguns!

  6. Serial numbers should be like mattress tags. Removable by the customer only.

    There is enough market pressure to keep the serial numbers on the firearm for law-abiding customers. Only guns with serial numbers are covered under warranty.

    Anyone who wants to modify or remove the numbers already has the technology and know-how to make the modification. A legal prohibition upon modifying or updating serial numbers is archaic and outdated.

    Society in general needs to be more progressive and update the laws about serial numbers on firearms to allow updating, modification and removal by the owners of the equipment.

  7. Owning the patent for microstamps? That’s frikkin brilliant!

    Seriously…why do gun companies do business with California or, say, Chicago? Why not make them do business the same way folks who live there have to, either by not owning the products, or jumping through hoops to obtain them?

    If the whole of the Los Angeles police department had to drive to, say, Nevada, to obtain pistol ammunition in larger than box lots, and had to jump through the hoops to obtain said heater, or get it serviced…and didn’t get an exemption for being “better than their employers”…how fast would laws change?

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