Microstamping Law Now Requires Stamp on Pistol Parts

Microstamping Law Now Requires Stamp on Pistol Parts
Microstamping Law Now Requires Stamp on Pistol Parts
Microstamping Law Now Requires Stamp on Pistol Parts
Microstamping Law Now Requires Stamp on Pistol Parts

Will lives be saved by this mandate? How will this new law improve public safety, if at all? Is another gun law really required now? Does the Constitution matter? Can the required data effectively be printed on pistols and cartridges? What does the research show? Is the microstamping process technically developed enough to permit this? Is this an overkill, especially requiring this imprint in two places on each handgun? Will this prevent hunters, recreational shooters, and others from buying new guns with improved features and safeties? Will other states, including your state, require this as well? Certainly criminals will buy new handguns imprinted with the required marks to commit their crimes…. or will they? Certainly, they would not tamper with the marks… or would they? Should law enforcement agencies be exempt? Should anyone be exempt from the requirement? Legislators? Well, legislators in California have spoken. In 2007, California Assembly Bill 1471 was passed and signed into law requiring microstamping on internal parts of new semiautomatic pistols. Will revolvers be involved soon? The legislation provided that this requirement would only became effective if the California Department of Justice certified that the microstamping technology is available to more than one manufacturer unencumbered by patent restrictions. The California legislature subsequently reorganized certain statutes concerning the regulation of firearms, including the microstamping law in 2010. On May 17, 2013, Attorney General Kamala D. Harris provided such certification and it is now effective.

What is microstamping. Briefly, it is a patented process that micro-laser engraves a unique alpha-numeric code with specific gun information on the tip of a gun’s firing pin and or other gun parts so that, theoretically, it imprints the information on fired cartridge cases. The process would have to be optimized for each model of firearm made by all manufacturers, a costly and time-consuming process that threatens the employment of thousands in the firearms industry, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation. The many different types of ammo and coatings would also complicate this process and readability of marks.

Under this law, firearms manufacturers would have to micro laser-engrave a gun’s make, model and serial number on the interior surface or internal working parts of two distinct parts of a pistol, including the firing pin, so that, in theory, this information would be transferred and imprinted on the cartridge casing when the pistol is fired. Violators are subject to prosecution with California Penal Code Section 31910, subdivision (b)(7)(a). Further, a semiautomatic pistol not already listed on the legislature-approved firearm roster is an “unsafe” handgun unless it is “designed and equipped with a microscopic array of characters that identify the make, model, and serial number of the pistol etched or otherwise imprinted in two or more places on the interior surface or internal working parts of the pistol, and that are transferred by imprinting on each cartridge case when the pistol is fired.” This is the microstamping mandate.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI) filed a lawsuit on January 9, 2014 on behalf of their members against the State of California in Fresno Superior Court challenging the state’s microstamping law. NSSF and SAAMI seek to invalidate and enjoin enforcement of provisions of state law enacted in 2007, but not made effective until May 2013, requiring that all semiautomatic pistols sold in the state not already on the California approved handgun roster contain unproven and unreliable microstamping technology. We will have to wait and see the answers to many of the questions.

Lawrence Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel commented “There is no existing microstamping technology that will reliably, consistently and legibly imprint the required identifying information by a semiautomatic handgun on the ammunition it fires. The holder of the patent for this technology himself has written that there are problems with it and that further study is warranted before it is mandated. A National Academy of Science review, forensic firearms examiners and a University of California at Davis study reached the same conclusion and the technical experts in the firearms industry agree.” “Manufacturers can not comply with a law the provisions of which are invalid, that cannot be enforced and that will not contribute to improving public safety. As a result, we are seeking both declaratory and injunctive relief against this back-door attempt to prevent the sale of new semiautomatic handguns to law-abiding citizens in California.”

Todd Lizotte, the inventor of the firearm microstamping technology, stated in a Winter, 2013 article that
“it is apparent that legitimate questions exist related both to the technical aspects, production costs, and database management associated with microstamping that should be addressed before wide scale implementation is legislatively mandated.” Further, he stated “complete recognition is still not possible in all cases” and independent firearms examiners confirmed Mr. Lizotte’s findings. Dr. David Howitt, Frederic Tulleners and Michael Beddow of the Forensic Science Graduate Group at the University of California at Davis stated that “because its forensic potential has yet to be fully assessed, a mandate for the implementation of this technology in all new semi-automatic handguns sold in the State of California is counter-indicated.”

George Krivosta of the New York Crime Laboratory said that research has shown and he stated that “the weapon producing the highest percentage of readable impressions was incapable of firing three shots in a row.” He brings up the reliability and durability of the marks, their susceptibility of tampering, and associated costs.

There are other comments and concerns about the required process:

  • Stamped casings can only be traced to the last registered owner, not the shooter who used the gun;
  • Bad guys/gals could pickup spent brass from a firing range and leave them at their crime scene as false evidence;
  • A readily-available and inexpensive file can be used to file off the marks and make them unreadable or alter them;
  • Firing pins and certain parts can easily be replaced on guns;
  • Firing many rounds wears down the microstamping marks and information, making them unreadable or misinterpreted; and
  • More independent research and scientific testing are needed for valid and reliable use of the process.

A lot of variables and concerns to think about. Many influencing factors exist. What are our goals and priorities as a society? What are your goals and priorities? What positive actions will you take to improve the current state of affairs? What are your thoughts about this mandated process for guns?

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"Col Ben" is retired with 30 years service in the U.S. Air Force, with joint services Special Ops duty and training, and is Air Force qualified as "Expert" in small arms. He is a Vietnam-era Veteran. Ben is an experienced NRA-Certified Pistol Instructor, NRA Range Safety Officer, and FL Concealed Carry License Instructor. Ben recently wrote the book "Concealed Carry and Handgun Essentials for Personal Protection" (second printing) with 57 comprehensive Chapters about concealed carry and handgun principles, techniques, and tips for both experienced and new shooters. His reference book is endorsed by several organizations and is available on his website at FloridaHandgunsTraining.com. Contact him at ColBFF@gmail.com.
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Micro Stamping is a back door ban on hand guns that has been spun as a crime fighting tool.
The advocates (that may or may not have financial stake) will tell the legislators that all they have to do is tell their constituents that from now on when a gang banger shoots and kills another gang banger, the cartridge left behind at the crime scene will identify the gun by tracking back in a data base and viola CASE SOLVED!
They sell the fact to the legislators that most of the constituents are scared to death of gangs and are just to darn stupid to realize that it only works if the shooter bought the gun legally and through proper channels.
The Legislator’s that promote Micro Stamping are getting what they really want – an increase in the cost of buying a new semi-auto, fewer models to choose from because not all manufacturers will comply. mandatory registration system, closer to achieving total gun control and eventually a gun ban.
But hey as the sponsor of the NY version of micro stamping Michele Schimmel said. Sometimes law abiding people have to give up certain rights for the good of the collective. So keep voting in these so called progressives or not voting at all.

VT Patriot

Also a great way to ban all handguns. If the technology does not exist to reliably imprint this on the casing, then the gun can’t be sold. It would be the same type of law if it was decided that all weapons need be made of cotton candy. If you can’t produce it made of cotton candy, you can’t sell it.


It’s just another way for the government to force gun manufactures to sell their guns at unreachable prices.
One way or the other they want to prevent the law abiding citizen, to not have a gun. Either by gun control, or by pricing them out of our hands.


Luckily, there are still a great many states in which to live between New York on the East Coast and California on the West Coast. Both of those states are usurping freedoms at an alarming pace, but it’s their raising of taxes that will finally force people to move away.


But look at the composition of the Supreme court. Six members from NY and northern NJ and two from CA. How can those Justices provide justice for the rest of America that lies between the coasts? Maybe you believe in judicial impartiality but I don’t


Also, note that Obama won 50.6 percent of the vote but Romney won 77.8 percent of the counties in the US. Liberals can control the national legislative agenda even when they don’t control the land mass.

Rev. Save

By requiring what is essentially a fantasy technology on all handguns and defining all others as “unsafe”, CA is effectively banning all new ones. The next step – per the NAZI play book – is to start registering and then confiscating all the older ‘unsafe’ handguns


LOL. It’s US based jews like Feinstein that are calling for the microstamping crap and trying to confiscate American guns. Your wailing about “nazis” just gives the gun grabbing jews and Israeli sympathizing freedom crushers more cover.


What a pathetic racist statement. I’m sure all the Jews in the JPFO hate feinstein more than anybody. Are all Black people gang members in your backwards biggott mind?


You’re the “biggott”. hahhahah. JPFO are still tools for being in our country, but not as rotten as you, and nowhere near as rotten as Feinstein, like I said. No, not all black people are gang bangers.


The next step in the MARXIST playbook is probably to require “gun insurance”.


Would this have slowed or accelerated the Fall of the Roman Empire, if all Swords were thus identified and numbered? Would Alexander the Great have been deterred or encouraged by this technology to identify the world’s weapons? Would this identification process have delayed or accelerated the ‘Progressive’ and purifying advance of Genghis Khan? Would ‘The Progressive Third Reich’ have profitted by creating laws registering, identifying all firearms, confiscating all of those not properly identified to be acceptable… oh wait, they did that.

rev. dave

Sword registration might have saved Rome, but those damned Gauls and Vandals just refused to comply with the law! Go figure….


Rwanda’s 531,000 UN provided/funded Chinese Machetes should have been numbered, registered and held to Safe standards. Of course the Hutu had all of the Machetes, seeing as the UN favored govt was Hutu. Poor Tutsi’s didn’t stand a chance, disarmed (for their own safety) and vastly outnumbered (outbred) they were Forced to submit.

The Rwandan National Public Radio, provided by the United Nations to the Hutu administered government, organized and encouraged the Genocide. Rape followed by Torture and sexual mutilation befell primarily the Female Tutsi’s. Interesting I never read the word ‘Racist’? The Tutsi victims, 1,000,000+, were primarily Christian, lighter skinned, taller, more prosperous and better educated. Maybe that is not preferable under the Hutu’s Muslim religion?

Give up our Guns? Render ourselves helpless? Not as long as we prefer Life over rape, torture followed by death. All in the name of Safety of course.

Chubby Survivalist

While I appreciate the author taking the time to write on this important issue, the article itself could use some tweaking. It opens with no less than FIFTEEN questions being asked before it ever *gives* any information. I had to read 10 of those questions before I could even partially answer my own: is this a national gun ban, or did it take place in the author’s home state, and they don’t realize other people will be reading this?

Before the questions and hypotheticals, this lone sentence would have been very helpful: “California’s 2007 mandate for microprinting has finally gone into effect.” NOW I know what we’re discussing. Until I pieced that together at the END of the enormous first paragraph, I had no frame of reference for the barrage of questions.

Tom Barber

I agree. I find it sad that so few journalists and bloggers really know how to write cogently. Mind you, I have made a few blunders myself along the way, but this, in my opinion, was a doozy.

William Carpenter

Of course the idiots didn’t think that I could go out to the range with my pal Fred, pick up his 9mm micro-stamped brass, go shoot someone with my 9mm using frangible bullets (so no easily recoverable bullet to match to a barrel), pick up my brass and leave behind Fred’s brass thus covering my tracks and framing Fred for the murder I’ve committed.

Tom Barber

William, they really don’t care about any of that. What they care about is keeping weapons out of the hands of honest, law-abiding citizens. Once they disarm the people, THEY can be as lawless as they want!


I don’t understand why calif people are such sheep and take this crap……………

Tom Barber

They value nanny government policies and free hand-outs more than they value freedom. It’s a mental disorder . . .


I am a firearm instructor who lives in California. The major cities are full of “progressives” many of whom come here from out of state. They outnumber the pro gun people and aggressively push their agenda. The good news for other states is we serve as a nut and fruit repository where many of your loons migrate and make our lives terrible. A lot of natives are leaving this state as is suffers under debt and mismanagement. We have large farming communities and rural areas fool of good people. We are just outnumbered. I have considered moving to Georgia many times over the years.

Tom Barber

This is not about forensics. Never was. It is about control. It is about preventing law-abiding citizens from owning guns. It is about disarming the people, so that the government can have unlimited power to ride roughshod over the rights of American citizens. It is about nullifying the Constitution. The leftists don’t give a rip about forensics.


If they can’t ban guns, they will find a way – unless stopped and/or ignored! – to make it impossible to produce them. Shall not be infringed means shall not be regulated; anti-gunners may not like it, but that is a fact. This microstamping issue is plain stupid! They know it, and they know what the purpose is: to stop the making and selling of guns to the common Joe and Jane. It’s time for civil disobedience: if gun makers, gun sellers and gun buyers ignore this stupidity, what will the law makers do?

Lorin Chane Partain

This is nothing more then a back door way to severly limit the guns that the citizens can have. Effectively this bans all new models coming onto the market. That is exactly what they want without passing a law that explicitly states so, because that would be an unconstitutional law and they know it. So is this of course.

Ghost Owl

To all of the writing critics – there are so many examples of bad writing on the web these days, with Yahoo seeming to lead the way. However, the articles on USA Carry are consistently informative, entertaining, and easy to read. It’s easy to criticize others when we are given a quick and simple Comments box to use, but unless any of us writes articles for public consumption day after day, while managing to run a successful (being the key word here) website we should really accept that one article out of 100 may not be at the 100% perfection level we believe everyone else should maintain. It would be a better use of our time to post something that adds value to the article for the other readers than to tear down the writer.

Having to wade through a bunch of English lessons to get to the helpful comments gets old. The Internet and all of the forums are an easy, anonymous way to complain, point fingers, and otherwise accuse others since there’s no chance for repercussions or retribution. It would be good if we used this as a filter – if you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t post it on the Internet.


Stupid thing to do double stamping a firearm.. Why not double punishment for being a criminal ? Do away with parole ? That would stop a bunch of crime . As for politicians I do believe passing laws coming up with this kind of We are working to save the Americans from themselves with extra added laws Is a tool to show how hard they are working and deserve their jobs .. We passed 28 new such and such proposed another 10 still being considered this year .. Next term we will do X,Y and Z .


mo strong opinion is that the one person pushing this insanity, Kamala Harris, is unfit to hold pubilc office. I have followed her antics for some years now, she appears to be either/both a pathological hoplophobe and/pr a communist or nazi driven fascist. Her rulings at AtG of California are beyond anything rational. She wants Californians disarmed. Well, she may just get her wish….. those who will NOT be disarmed are and will continue to be leaving that state, taking their arms with them (and their above average penchant for prospering). They will leave behind the ever-increasing portion of the state comprising illegals, welfare-sucking bums, those making their “living” by simply taking what belongs to others (by force or stealth, and THEY will never surrender their guns), and government employees like herself. She apparently lacks the intelligence and foresight to look down the road of time a piece or two and see what will be left behind should this race over the cliff continue: a world of rapid deterioration, lack of law enfrocement and pubilc peace and safety, and an economy imploded by debt and insufficient income to survive. This is the world of the socialist. This is the world Kamala Harris is working hard to realise. Opt out……..


Even if you could “mandate” finger-print-controlled supercomputer “safe guns” with microstamping and 3 round magazines, none of that crap is going to change anything when California is full of gangs.


Microstamping = total gun registration.


Every single manufacturer should refuse to do this AND should refuse to sell to law enforcement in CA as long as this law remains. Citizens should demand that manufacturers refuse or they won’t support them. If Barrett can do it so can every other.