Effective ban on new handguns in California
Chuck Michel reports it here. Essentially, (1) microstamping of firing pins is now mandatory, but (2) it adds to the cost of manufacture and (3) given the current demand for firearms, why bother making a special model for California?
My memory may be off, but as I recall the law only became effective if the microstamping technology was not covered by patent. The patent holder waived the patent, but remains the only firm with the equipment to make the firing pins, so its patent monopoly just became an economic monopoly.
Very interesting. IIRC, there is also legislation in the works to ban the transfer of old handguns not on the "CA approved" list. Checkmate.
Posted by: Kendal Black at June 6, 2013 11:57 AM
I think that the people of California should sue to insure that the minute microstamping is available that all local and state law enforcement personnel be immediately required to acquire said technology for all weapons used in the daily performance of their duties. Thereby put the onus of this kind of law by mandate in its proper prospectus
Posted by: ken at June 6, 2013 03:18 PM
1) This is an interstate commerce issue and I am sure the state law could be federally preempted. Any chance of getting Congress to act?
2) Firing pins are cheap and easily swapped. There's no law preventing a business elsewhere from making selling unstamped pins. Or better, flooding CA with new firing pins stamped with random numbers or all the same number, rendering the microstamping program meaningless. If CA wants to stop that, they'll have to regulate the import of firing pins that do not go through FFLs, or try to regulate the manufacture of parts in other states, ha ha, Commerce Clause.
The fact that a manufacturer in another state is turning out thousands of pins stamped with duplicate numbers will render any prosecution based on microstamp evidence a lot tougher to prove.
Posted by: jnh at June 6, 2013 07:33 PM
From what I've read, there is virtually no crime-solving value to microstamping. The vast majority of guns used in crimes are stolen, so even if a microstamped empty case is recovered at a crime scene, it is far more likely to lead to another crime victim than to a perp.
Second, I've read that the identification of a gun from a microstamped empty case is way under 100% even when tested at the factory under ideal conditions. In theory it leaves a fingerprint, but not every fingerprint recovered at a crime scene can be read.
And for those who simply don't want a microstamping firing pin in their gun, it would not be necessary to replace the firing pin at all. The exquisitely tiny engraving on the tip of the pin can be polished to unreadability in about a minute with a buffing wheel on a Dremel tool. So if you're adept enough to remove and replace your firing pin with a new one, you can simply remove your original and replace it after a little bit of polishing.
In addition, I've also read that the engraving on the firing pin tip actually deteriorates with ordinary use, so a gun that has just been shot a lot may not leave a mark on the primer that can be read by the decrypting machine.
Posted by: wrangler5 at June 7, 2013 09:23 AM
Wrangler, I'm sure that California LE regard your paragraph #1 as a feature, not a bug - they could care less whether the registered owner of said gun is innocent - if they can finger HIM for the crime, they (AND the BS law) get full credit for "solving crime".
Posted by: Hartley at June 7, 2013 10:19 AM
What "Wranglers" writes above is undoubtedly true from a practical standpoint. However, the CA legislature has the unquestionable power to enact bad laws that only affect California.
But the CA legislature does not have the power to enact bad laws that conflict with federal laws governing interstate commerce.
Microstamping in CA unquestionably interferes with interstate commerce, the ability of a federally-licensed gun company in (say) Connecticut to make the same model for all the states through federally-licensed dealers.
I can't remember how standing works on this. Also federal preemption is not necessarily presumptive just because there's a federal law. Sometimes Congress has preempted "the field", or sometimes just part of the field.
Has an FFL ever tried to challenge a similar state law, on grounds that it interferes with his federally-granted license?
Posted by: jnh at June 7, 2013 01:59 PM
A question if that is in the reality wouldn't that have restricted the California model cars which have been forcing manufacturers to make specific models of cars for CA. Also what about Gas. California requires a certain type of formulation.
The reality is that California has been doing this type of thing for some time and getting away with it so why do you think they won't this time?
I think they know that firearm manufacturers will not can not make firearms that comply and that is what they really want.
Posted by: Rich at June 7, 2013 09:41 PM
Rich, California got a specific waiver from Congress to enact its own auto emissions regulations. Without that waiver CA would have been federally preempted by EPA regs. And at one point Congress discussed rescinding the waiver, not sure the status of it today.
I am positive Congress could claim microstamping as affecting interstate commerce and prevent California from enforcing microstamping. But I am not familiar with the how the current contours of preemption under federal gun laws have been defined.
Here's an example of how it gets complicated. When the California Nat. Guard discharged Lt. Andrew Holmes after he announced he was gay, he sued CA under their own antidiscrimination laws. The CA attorney general (Silveira!) argued that California was federally preempted by Don't Ask Don't Tell from keeping Holmes in the state guard. In Holmes's case, the judge agreed with Silveira that Congress *could* preempt state militia laws, but finally decided that the State Guard operates under a voluntary funding mandate. Which means that state receipt of federal funds is voluntary, so the state was not forced by federal law to discharge Holmes, because it had the option of keeping Holmes but losing 85% of its federal Nat. Guard funding.
Posted by: jnh at June 9, 2013 01:42 AM
Rich, California has to get a renewable waiver from the EPA to keep its emissions regs legit. Otherwise CA would be preempted, it's settled law.
Congress could preempt the CA microstamping law. I am certain of that. The question is whether a plaintiff could argue that CA's law is already preempted by existing federal laws.
Posted by: JNH at June 11, 2013 02:15 PM
As I recall, preemption (if not express preemption) depends on whether the complexity and extent of the Federal laws shows an intention to "occupy the field" by covering every aspect of the subject. Considering that BATF is the federal agency that makes the gun laws, and considering the complexity and broad range of those regulations, I think a good case can be made for preemption. Whether Congress will do so is another question.
The whole idea of microstamping is to be able to go back to the last known legal owner of the gun, find out if he reported it stolen, and when, how he stored it, and prosecute him if it can be shown he didn't store it "properly" or didn't report it soon enough after the theft.
It's all about finding someone to prosecute, and it's safer to go after amateurs who may not know they've committed a crime than to go after the violent career criminals who pose the most danger to society and the cops.
Posted by: Windy Wilson at June 12, 2013 10:25 AM
As yet another useless law intended to impede concealed carry in CA. As JNH pointed out, criminals won't worry about proper firing pins. So, great. Criminals will always find guns, and this is just another tree across the road for allowing responsible people to protect themselves. What a waste of time and money! Wonder how many of those hypocrites have ccws of their own?
Posted by: Concealed Carry Girl at June 12, 2013 11:16 AM
Another consequence with this brought-to-Californians de-facto gun ban by newly elected L.A. City Attorney and former state Legislator Mike Fueur, (devoid of legal experience), is that Law enforcement has to use the same process.
It was brought to law enforcement's knowledge that convict trustees who clean up at various police gun ranges around the state, had the opportunity to acquire and smuggle out the brass casings with the intent to be used by criminals in 'salting' crime scenes with those casings. Hence law enforcement was against this law as well. Law enforcement is finally learning that the California Progressives that run the CA Democratic Party are no friends of theirs.
Posted by: Neon at June 19, 2013 04:50 PM
There is a grass roots initiative to change federal gun laws in a way that prevents states from infringing on the Bill Of Rights. Very interesting:
Posted by: Publius Extant at August 2, 2013 11:20 PM