Smith & Wesson announced it will stop selling its handguns in California rather than manufacture them to comply with the new microstamping law. The other publicly traded firearms manufacturer in the U.S., Sturm, Ruger, also said this month that it will stop new sales to California.
The announcement late Wednesday came a week after the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for firearms manufacturers, filed suit against California for requiring that all new semi-automatic pistols that are not already on the state’s approved gun roster have the microstamping technology.
Microstamping is a patented process that, in theory, would have a unique code on the tip of a gun’s firing pin that would engrave that information on the casing when fired.
Smith & Wesson President and CEO James Debney said, “As our products fall off the roster due to California’s interpretation of the Unsafe Handgun Act, we will continue to work with the NRA and the NSSF to oppose this poorly conceived law which mandates the unproven and unreliable concept of microstamping and makes it impossible for Californians to have access to the best products with the latest innovations.”
Mr. Debney added that he encourages the public to “support the NSSF’s lawsuit and other efforts to stop microstamping, before it impacts your constitutional rights.” The law was passed in 2007 but did not go into effect until May 2013.
The company reported that all M&P pistols (other than the M&P Shield) will fall off the roster by August because of performance enhancements, which will make them subject to the microstamping regulation. The M&P9c has already been taken off the list, and several more M&P models will be unavailable for Californians to purchase by the end of January.
Smith & Wesson will continue to sell revolvers, bolt action rifles and its newly-launched Shield and SDVE pistols in California.
The District of Columbia is the only other place in the country that has mandated microstamping. It was supposed to go into effect on Jan. 1, but the city council passed an emergency measure in December to postpone it until 2016.
A spokesman for Phil Mendelson, the city council chairman who wrote the D.C. law, told me that, “The decision to delay was made recently in order to piggyback on the California program and create more of a market for gun manufacturers.”
In other words, there were no manufacturers willing to stick this unproven contraption on their firearms, which meant no new ones could be sold in the city.
While that would fit with the District’s anti-gun agenda, the politicians are clever enough to know that banning all new guns would just help the plaintiffs in the Heller II case that is challenging all the registrations laws written in 2009.
Microstamping is simply a ban on guns. California and D.C. will have a short period to enjoy their gun grab until the courts rule that this dictate violates the Second Amendment.
Emily Miller is senior editor of opinion for The Washington Times and author of “Emily Gets Her Gun” (Regnery, 2013).