The California Supreme Court last week upheld the state’s de facto ban on new handguns.
Since May of 2013, no new semiautomatic handgun can be sold in the Golden State unless it comes with microstamping technology, which is like equipping a pistol’s firing pin with a fingerprint. The idea being that the firing pin will leave its unique signature on every case or primer discharged through the gun. Law enforcement will then be able to, the theory goes, use these markings on spent casings to trace the gun via make, model, serial number, back to the owner.
Problem is microstamping is not a workable crime-fighting technology. For starters, the stamps wear off over time, they often don’t leave clear markings and they can quickly clog with fouling and debris. Not to mention the most obvious issue, criminals can either replace the firing pin or easily file off the stamp without affecting the function of the gun. Or heck, they can just buy a revolver which doesn’t eject the cases!
Because of these unavoidable limitations no manufacturer in the gun industry has taken the time to develop costly and ineffectual microstamping to satisfy the state’s mandate. Which means no new handguns are being offered to the almost 40 million residents of Kommiefornia.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) along with the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI) sued the state in 2014 on the grounds that compliance is impossible because viable microstamping does not exist.
The California Supreme Court rejected the “impossibility” claim, ruling Thursday that just because something’s impossible doesn’t make it null and void.
“Impossibility can occasionally excuse noncompliance with a statute,” Justice Goodwin Liu wrote in the 19-page ruling. “But impossibility does not authorize a court to go beyond interpreting a statute and simply invalidate it.”
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra celebrated the court’s decision.
“Today’s ruling confirms that California can create incentives for the gun industry to make products that serve the public’s needs,” said Attorney General Becerra in a press release. “Innovation and technology will continue to drive California to be a leader. We will not go backwards. The California Department of Justice is committed to reducing gun violence and improving the ability of law enforcement to fight crime and hold accountable those who commit firearm murders and assaults.”
Yet, “going backwards” may still be on the table, as Alan Gottlieb, the founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, told GunsAmerica.
“This case is far from over. It will be appealed to the United States Supreme Court,” said Gottlieb via email. “In addition, there is another case filed by the Second Amendment Foundation in Federal Court, that is also pending in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, where oral arguments have already been heard. This ridiculous anti-gun law is far from final.”