Using unproven technology to ban guns.
Gun control has been a constant drumbeat in California politics. Every year, gun-grabbing politicians in Sacramento introduce bill after bill after bill trying to deprive Californians of our Second Amendment rights. The push is so constant that I often wonder how long it will take before I, a law-abiding gun owner who has never committed a crime, will suddenly become a felon under California law because some politician decides that he can deprive me of my rights in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
Now, the Second Amendment is facing a new crisis in California. The state government has found a new way to get rid of guns in California: microstamping. In theory, microstamping is a process whereby when a handgun is fired, the firing pin stamps information about the gun onto the cartridge casing. The idea behind microstamping is that, when a crime is committed involving a handgun, police will be able to trace the crime back to the gun's owner - the microscopic stamp would serve as proof that the gun's owner was physically at the scene of the crime.
There are several problems with this, the primary problem being that microstamping doesn't really work. There was, allegedly, one successful demonstration
of microstamping back in 2007, but one successful test does not a good plan make. One significant problem with using the firing pin to stamp cartridge casings is that firing pins tend to wear down over time. It wouldn't take much time at all for a laser-etched microstamp to wear off, and then the casings aren't being stamped anymore. In order to remain in compliance with the law, legal gun owners would have to verify that their gun is leaving a mark which they cannot see on their casings when they fire their guns.
Columnist Paul Carpenter raises some common-sense concerns about the rush for new gun-control measures in the wake of recent shootings. | Photo: Paul Carpenter |
A quality semiautomatic handgun can cost anywhere from $500 to over $1,000 - they don't come cheap. Proponents of microstamping allege that the microstamping parts would only add a few dollars to the price of the handguns - the problem, however, is that they never seem to take into account the fact that adding microstamping would completely turn the manufacturing process upside-down. Parts that used to be mass-manufactured and interchangeable from gun to gun would have to be controlled to ensure that a specific firing pin matches up to a specific gun. The logistical changes in the manufacturing process would make handguns unaffordable to most people ' and ordering a new firing pin for a handgun goes from being a standard part order to a major ordeal, as gun owners will have to place a special order, and manufacturers will have to have some mechanism for gun owners to prove that they own the gun they are ordering parts for.
Then you have to throw in the fact that the root theory behind microstamping is fundamentally flawed. The idea is that microstamping will allow law enforcement officials to prove that the perpetrator of a crime was physically at the scene of that crime by matching the microstamped shell casings back to the gun that fired them. But what if the criminal uses a revolver? If the casings stay with the gun, it doesn't help law enforcement at all...and depending on the circumstances of the crime, it's not outside the realm of possibility for a criminal to pick up their brass before leaving the scene of the crime. What if the criminal plans ahead, picks up some shell casings from the local shooting range, and scatters them around the crime scene? The next thing you know, legal gun owners who have committed no crime will have their guns seized, and they will be arrested for crimes they had nothing to do with. The next trend we'll see will be criminals stealing guns so that they can replace the firing pins.
California's legislature actually passed the bill requiring microstamping a few years ago - it was signed into law by RINO governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. But the microstamping law was put on hold because at the time, much like today, the technology really didn't work. Even the California Police Chief's Association
said in 2010 that "There are too many unanswered questions with microstamping in its current iteration" and raised concerns that "statements about the capabilities of microstamping may have been technologically premature"
The reason the microstamping law is already starting to become a handgun ban is due to a little thing we have here in California called "the Roster" (aka the "Roster Of Handguns Certified For Sale
"). California's Department of Justice requires gun manufacturers to put ever model they sell through a series of tests to certify it as "safe" to sell in the state ' and these tests are separate from the safety tests the manufacturers already put their firearms through, even though they are basically the same tests. Thanks to the Roster, 75-85 percent of guns on the market aren't available in California simply because gun manufacturers haven't paid the state's extortion money to get their guns on the list.
And it gets even better! If a manufacturer changes a part in one of their guns, the state treats that as a whole new gun, and it has to be tested again! If that new part affects multiple models (because again, interchangeable parts mean a more efficient manufacturing process), then all affected models have to be re-tested. This puts a huge burden on firearms manufacturers just to be able to sell their products in the state, and with the implementation of the microstamping law, several manufacturers have said "Enough!" and have refused to renew their guns on the Roster, resulting in dozens of handgun models to fall off of the list already.
If this is allowed to continue, it's only a matter of time before semiautomatic handguns are effectively banned throughout the state, which will be a significant infringement on Californian's Second Amendment rights. Thankfully, law suits have already been filed to stop the microstamping law and end the Roster.