A California micro-stamping law that was signed by Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2007 is now in effect. The micro-stamping law is the nation’s first of its kind and requires that all semiautomatic handguns to be equipped with technology that stamps the gun’s serial number into the casing.
The idea behind micro-stamping is (supposedly) that it will make solving crimes involving firearms easier. The elevator pitch usually goes something like this. If a spent casing is found at a crime scene, the serial number could be retrieved from the casing, and its owner could be located using the state’s firearm registry.
However, as it turns out, unicorns and leprechauns aren’t real.
The idea behind micro-stamping sounds good on paper, but when you actually start to think about it, it’s not hard to imagine a world where the law is wholly ineffective. First, the law exempts guns currently on the state’s allowed firearm list, and since criminals don’t much care if the weapons they are obtaining illegally are on the state’s allowed firearms list or not, the result is that all guns currently in circulation in California will not have micro-stamping.
Second, let’s fast-forward 10 years and pretend that somehow most guns have micro-stamping. Guess what? How hard is it to go to a range, gather up a bunch of spent brass and spread it around the next time you off someone?
The number of star alignments and Sasquatch sightings that need to take place before micro-stamping is effective is staggering. But common sense has never mattered much to most politicians.
Some have speculated that this law will result in banning any new guns from being added to the state’s allowed firearms list. Their argument is that manufacturers won’t go through the expensive process of retooling just for California, and some have even gone so far as to speculate that this was the politicians’ plan all along.
While I can’t rule out that being the intent of the law, I disagree with the speculated outcome.
The reason is simple: the California gun market is huge. So huge in fact, that a lot of manufacturers already make a California compliant version of their weapons, and I predict the same thing will happen in this case. The end result will just be that Californians will pay more (manufacturers will have to recoup the production cost) for an already neutered weapon.
My advice remains the same – vote with your feet, and let California drown in its insurmountable debt.