Micro Stamping and the Future of Guns in California

Future of Guns in CaliforniaI’ve received a number of questions, comments and some general paranoia over micro stamping and the planned withdraw of Smith and Wesson and Ruger from the California handgun market.

In 2007, California passed a law requiring all handguns sold in the state to adopt micro stamping technology. It is set to go into effect in May 2014. The intent of the law is similar to a number of laws on the books in California. It is designed to discourage manufacturers from shipping guns to California by enacting costly barriers to entry. While this seems like a potentially effective means of attacking the so called “problem,” similar laws have had the opposite impact on the volume of firearms sold in the state. What these types of laws have done is reduce the choices available to law abiding citizens, but increased total sales of guns.

Lets take the “Not unsafe” handgun act as an example. Any pistol model sold in California must pass what is called the California firing and safety test. The manufacturer must submit three guns to a state approved lab for testing. They fire 600 rounds and drop them six times. If they meet the state mandated malfunction rate and do not fire when dropped, the gun is subsequently deemed “not unsafe” and added to the “not unsafe list of firearms approved for sale in the state.”  (Yes they use the term not unsafe in the Peoples Republic of California, lest the state publicly make the statement that any firearm – under any circumstances – could be considered safe). Regardless of the result of the test, the gun is then destroyed. The manufacturer must pay a testing fee of about $2000 plus ammunition, plus $200 per model to be added to the list, plus shipping, etc… Call it $7500 per model to be listed on “not unsafe handgun” list. Now we can potentially add the Micro stamping requirement to that cost.

Firearms Retailer Survey ReportWhat this has resulted in is making it financially imprudent to ship a wide variety of models to California as each specific element of a model must be tested. Change the grips, new test. Put a different front sight on the gun, new test. When we look at gun sales and revenue in the state (Published by NSSF), we see California sales volumes continue to increase, but we see the available models decrease – although I have not seen the 2013 report yet.  The purported goal of these laws is to reduce the number of guns in society. What actually occurs is a run on guns that raises prices and increases the profitability of the California market (and increases tax revenue for the state). The increased pricing gives manufacturers a profit incentive to find innovative ways to beat the restrictions – and they do. Sales increase, profits increase and the cycle continues… (You can also get an estimate jobs created, and a number of economic trends on the firearm industry from these reports.) Barack Obama may be the best gun salesman in the world, but Californians continues to support these ignorant and ineffective laws by electing the like of Kevin DeLeon,  (you can watch him prove he knows absolutely nothing about firearms on national TV in the link). He, Feinstein and Yee are ultimately driving sales here in California!

Kevin Deleon Anti gun senator gun trainingThe next element of the equation is the lawsuit filed by the NSSF against the state of California for violating the 2nd amendment rights of Californians via this micro stamping law. That, like many other suits which have been filed will take years, but the requested injunction is well written (in my amateur opinion). It clearly asks the court to consider, if not hold, California liable for all firearms injuries caused by the impact of forcing Californians to forgo modern safety features and advancements were this act to be enforced. Due to the volume of research provided to the court, my suspicion is that they will at least grant an injunction against enforcement of the law until more studies have been – meaning the status quo will be maintained.

In the interim, Smith and Wesson and Ruger Strum (and hopefully other manufactures) lose nothing by publicly making the statements they will not comply.

If the law is actually allowed to be enforced then the manufacturers will actually have to make a decision based on the profitability of the California market. Few, if any, will do what Barret did and stop selling to California Law Enforcement (which would be a way of getting the attention of the CA Sheriffs and Police Chiefs who supported this). More likely is a statement along the lines of “Due to the demand for our superior firearms in the state of California, we have decided to undergo the cost of retooling a limited number of assembly lines to meet this ridiculous restriction in order to ensure our valuable California customers are able to defend themselves inline their 2nd amendment rights. While it will be necessary to pass the increased cost of this retooling to the California purchasers, Company X will be donating $1.00 per gun sold to the cause of appealing this irrational and useless law…” or something to that effect.

No matter how this plays out, there will be an increased demand for a shrinking line of products, which will push more guns into the hands of citizens. The paranoia alone is probably already increasing sales.

Stay Safe and have fun this week!

First Published at Aegis academy


Patrick Henry


Patrick HenryPatrick Henry received his operational training and experience from the U. S. Government, 22 years of which were spent in the Marine Corps where he served in the Reconnaissance, Infantry and Intelligence fields. During his active service, he spent more then seven years deployed overseas in combat, operational and training assignments. After the military, Pat worked as a contractor and as the Director of Operations at a private paramilitary company, specializing in training special operations forces and providing protective services to select private clients. His education consists of an MBA from the University of Southern California (USC), and a BS from San Diego State University with an emphasis in Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology and a minor in Psychology. He holds an extensive list of security and training related certifications from a variety of government and nationally recognized entities. He has an extensive entrepreneurial background ranging from real estate and technology, to the security training and education market. He currently sits on the advisory committee at USC’s Master of Veterans Business Program, and is an active member of Infraguard and the American Society of Industrial Security (ASIS). He has been a guest speaker at ASIS, the San Diego Industrial Security Awareness Council and other private organizations on physical security, travel security, and competitive intelligence collection counter-measures.

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