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Microstamping Law Information

April 2, 2014

California’s Microstamping Requirement Bans Sale Of Improved Pistols – Dealers Face Shortage Of Handguns Approved For Sale

Conscientious gun manufacturers often refine and improve their products so that consumers get the best and most reliable and safest products available on the market. Even as the manufacturer’s model numbers remain unchanged, manufacturers continue to make minor changes to their existing models as new technology or manufacturing processes become available. Now, ironically, California’s “Unsafe Handgun Act” is making it impossible for licensed gun retailers to sell these refined, improved and more reliable pistols.

Even though the models have passed the performance tests that California law imposes, the California regulators have taken the position that even minor changes trigger the need for these guns to be retested and re-certified for sale. Since last year, however, no gun can be certified for sale in California unless it incorporates a “microstamping” process. None of these improved firearms do, and no new guns from any major manufacturer will. As a result, a large number of handguns have been de-listed and can no longer be sold by retailers in California.

The California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA) and its allies are taking action to stop this hypocrisy of refusing to certify handguns that have been made better. CRPA members and concerned gun owners have been asking about the situation. Here’s the latest:

California’s “Unsafe Handgun” Scheme Since January 1, 2001, California’s so called “unsafe handgun” law has mandated that before a handgun can be sold in California it must be listed on the Roster of Handguns Certified for Sale (the “Roster”). Originally, handguns needed to pass a drop test and other performance tests to be listed. The legislator promoting the bill, anti-gun Senator Polanco, claimed that handguns could “blow up” so this law was necessary. Tellingly, no “blow up” test was ever imposed, suggesting this bill wasn’t really about safety in the first place. Regardless, in 2006 the law was amended to require center fire semi-automatic pistols to have a loaded chamber indicator, and a magazine disconnect safety by January 1, 2007. Firearms that pass the tests and have the required features are deemed “not to be unsafe handguns.” Pistols on the Roster before these requirements were added are “grandfathered,” meaning they do not need to meet the new requirements to stay on the Roster. In 2007, notoriously anti-gun-owner Assembly Member Mike Feuer (now Los Angeles City Attorney) pushed a law adding a new requirement for pistols to make it onto the Roster — microstamping. Although microstamping has nothing to do with making a firearm safer, Mr. Feuer touted his scheme as a cheap law enforcement tool. In fact, it is nothing of the kind. Nonetheless, the law passed.

Implementation of the microstamping requirement was postponed subject to the required certification by the California Attorney General that the microstamping process technology was available to manufacturers and was not encumbered by a patent. Attorney General (now Governor) Jerry Brown did not certify that microstamping was available during his tenure. But on May 17, 2013 Attorney General Kamala Harris certified that microstamping was available. Again, pistols that were already on the Roster were “grandfathered” and did not need to meet the microstamping requirement. But any new pistol seeking to be certified or re-certified, for sale now needs to have microstamping.

California’s Microstamping Requirement Bans Sale Of Improved Pistols – Dealers Face Shortage Of Handguns Approved For Sale

Conscientious gun manufacturers often refine and improve their products so that consumers get the best and most reliable and safest products available on the market.

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