California now requires handguns to do microstamping on the weapons’ firing pins so as to mark the bullet casing to facilitate tracing a weapon used in a crime back to the weapon’s registered owner. (Actually, they’ve been requiring it since 2007; they’ve only just begun enforcing that this year.)
Leaving aside the lack of legitimacy of this move toward gun control and even the fact that the technology for doing this microstamping isn’t yet stable, much less proven, it’s foolish to the point of dishonesty (since I don’t agree that even California state legislators are slack-jawed, drooling idiots) for a number of reasons.
Police handguns are exempted from the microstamping requirement. This is selective enforcement. Aside from that, why should the police be exempted when their employers, the citizenry, are not? On top of that, to the extent microstamping is a good idea, it would be useful for demonstrating police misbehavior in a shooting—or for demonstrating that the shooting was justified.
The traceability of the firearm that’s claimed for microstamping ignores the fact that the weapon used may have been lost by the legitimate owner, or (quite likely) stolen from him.
It’s easy enough to file the microstamping off the firing pin, just as it’s easy enough to file a firearm’s serial number off the firearm.
Forensics traces markings on bullets left by the rifling of a firearm’s barrel to the original firearm. Except when the barrel used in a crime is ditched and a new barrel inserted, a thing easily done in a couple of minutes. So it is with the firing pins of most…handguns. In the ordinary process of stripping the firearm for cleaning and maintenance, both the barrel and the firing pin are taken out of the piece. It’s that simple.
This is a law that can’t work as advertised, quite apart from what we might think of the degree of gun control that’s appropriate. Smith & Wesson and Sturm Ruger recognize this, and both companies are moving to stop selling their firearms in California.
Which is gun control, toward which the state’s legislature may have been moving with this law all along.