Fortunately for all of the gunslingers and shooting enthusiasts out there, we have organizations such as the National Rifle Association, Second Amendment Foundation, National Gun Rights Association and others defending our rights. The gun control crowd has taken a divide and conquer approach. Where they cannot strip us of our rights on a national scale, they are trying to pick apart one state at a time, even down to the county level if necessary.
One of the latest such attacks comes from the left coast—specifically, the Golden State. California passed a controversial microstamping bill back in 2007, but was not able to implement it due to patent issues. Then, in mid to late May 2013, California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced, effective immediately, all new semi-automatic firearms sold in the State of California will require a unique microstamp on every shell ejected when a gun is fired.
Small details, for example how a firearm that has been illegally purchased such as those through straw purchasers from federal agents in Operation Fast and Furious, could help track down criminals. Criminals do not buy local guns legally. They import guns from wherever they can get them.
Federal law prohibits the destruction or defacing of serial number on firearms, but it also currently prohibits the registry of firearms. This produces a dilemma with regard to microstamping. California’s solution was to define microstamping as other than a serial number so it would not run afoul of Federal law for registry. At the same time, that allows every owner to obliterate the microstamp or simply replace the engraved part—both of which would be legal and would render the stamp useless for later prosecution.
Let’s take that thought a step further and look at other implications. Let’s say you owned a microstamped pistol and the state had your tag registered. Would you take your semi-auto to the range? Perhaps pop a few caps; burn a little powder. What did you leave behind? I’ll tell you what—your nom de plume, John Hancock, ATM pin—in essence your personal fingerprint. All that would be required is for a criminal to get one or two cases and leave them behind at a crime scene and your life becomes a personal hell courtesy of the legislature.
Of course these, and other troubling facts, did not stop lawmakers from pushing the controversial law through or its sudden and unwarranted implementation. Anyone with even a modicum of common sense can see this will not do anything to decrease crime or increase prosecution. Yes, that includes the lawmakers themselves. I know that seems like a stretch (lawmakers having common sense) however, I can prove it in this case. When the law was written, it specifically exempted law enforcement.
Why would you need to exempt law enforcement? Are they above the commission of a crime? Why can’t they buy microstamped weapons like the rest of the citizens? Wouldn’t you want to know which brass belonged to the police and which ones to particular suspects versus a casing that was potentially left over from another crime or shooting? The answer is two-fold. First, they can already do that through the tool marks left by the firing pin and breach face that are unique to each gun. They do not need microstamping.
Instead, this allows California to create an “otherwise illegal” firearm ownership registry at a minimum to subvert Federal law and more likely it is an outright de facto ban on the importation or sale of semi-autos in the state. The cost would be unnecessarily prohibitive and manufacturers would simply quit selling guns in California, thus law enforcement would not be able to get firearms either, thus the exemption.
Attorneys for the Second Amendment Foundation and Calguns Foundation have filed an amended complaint in the on-going Pena case, challenging California’s handgun roster law to clarify that the challenge extends to the state’s newly activated microstamping regulation.
The plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment will be argued by the court’s deadline in November.
The case was originally filed in 2009 as a challenge to California’s regulation that arbitrarily bans handguns based on a roster of “acceptable” handgun models approved by the state. The new motion addresses microstamping, which has made it even harder to legally purchase a handgun in the state of California.
“When the case was originally filed,” SAF Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb recalled, “the state’s microstamping requirement was not active and was not part of the lawsuit. However, because of substantial delays involving the Ninth Circuit’s protracted Nordyke litigation, microstamping is now a significant issue. We’ve had to amend our complaint to address this new effort by California legislators to limit the types of handguns one can legally purchase.”
Gene Hoffman, chairman of the Calguns Foundation, added, “California’s attempt to limit the availability of handguns to her citizens is so broad that it makes it impossible to purchase the revolver that the U.S. Supreme Court has specifically ruled had to be registered to Dick Heller, whose case struck down the District of Columbia’s handgun ban and affirmed that the Second Amendment protects an individual civil right.
“The state cannot dictate that some common arms can’t be bought just as they can’t dictate which versions of religious texts are acceptable,” Hoffman added. “Now that the state requires microstamping, it’s unlikely any new make or model of pistol will be added—making it even clearer that this is an incremental ban on firearms.”
“Amending our case to address the California legislature’s insidious erosion of firearms rights was a necessary step,” Gottlieb concluded. “It is clear the intent of anti-gun lawmakers is not to regulate firearms but to ban them via increasingly restrictive legislation. This scheme cannot go without challenge, and our existing case is the best and quickest way to accomplish that.”
Reach out to your local lawmakers and ensure your voice is heard loud and often, then make take a minute two to make sure someone else’s officials know that we are one voice and very united in our fight. Anytime you open your wallet and find an extra buck or two, remember who was out there fighting for our rights on a national and local level. Today it is California and Colorado; tomorrow it may be something closer to home. I’ll pay it forward today in the hopes that other gun owners will step up when my lawmakers pull something onerous like California and Colorado recently have.