Federal Judge Blocks California’s ‘Unsafe Handgun Act,’ — No More Microstamping Mandate!

A micro-stamped casing.
(Photo: NSSF)

By NSSF:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — NSSF®, The Firearm Industry Trade Association, praises the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, Southern Division’s order granting a preliminary injunction for the plaintiffs blocking enforcement of California’s Unsafe Handgun Act. The case, Boland v. Bonta, was filed shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Bruen decision. The court issued the preliminary injunction today.

“This order is a victory for lawful gun ownership in California. For too long, the Second Amendment has been significantly infringed upon by elected officials who have taken every opportunity to put roadblocks in front of law-abiding citizens seeking to exercise their Second Amendment rights,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel.

“The order is the first step in what will be a protracted legal battle, but it is a significant win. NSSF has long contended that California’s Unsafe Handgun Act is an unconstitutional infringement denying Californians their ability to legally purchase the handguns that would best suit their needs,” Keane continued. “The court is correctly applying the holdings of the Supreme Court’s Bruen decision that the Second Amendment is the only test when it comes to lawful firearm ownership and the holdings of Heller that firearms in common use are protected by the Second Amendment.”

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Boland v. Bonta, brought also by California Rifle & Pistol Association and Chuck Michel of Michel & Associates, challenged California’s Unsafe Handgun Act that requires all new models of pistols sold in the state to be equipped with a chamber-loaded indicator, a magazine disconnect mechanism and be capable of imparting a microstamp from the handgun’s firing pin on the primer of an expended cartridge case. That final requirement is technologically impossible.

NSSF testified when it was debated in California’s legislature that it was impossible to meet such a requirement. The patent-holder on microstamping technology, Todd Lizotte, admitted that microstamping is unreliable, stating, “…legitimate questions exist related to both the technical aspects, production costs, and database management associated with microstamping that should be addressed before wide scale implementation is legislatively mandated.” NSSF also provided important testimony at the hearing that the court relied upon in rendering its decision.

“The microstamping provision requires handguns to have a particular feature that is simply not commercially available or even feasible to implement on a mass scale,” the court’s order reads. This is a fact that NSSF has long maintained, and all peer-reviewed studies have reached the same conclusion.

Microstamping can be easily defeated by dragging a nail file over the tip of a firing pin or replacing the firing pin. However, the requirement was certified by then-Attorney General Kamala Harris. Since its certification, California’s list of handguns certified for sale has dwindled. No new models have been added to California’s approved list since 2013, and models available for sale have dwindled 75 percent, from 976 handgun models to under 250 in 2022, when models with similar paint schemes are taken into consideration.

About NSSF

NSSF is the trade association for the firearm industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of thousands of manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers nationwide. For more information, visit nssf.org.

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