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Microstamping case headed for California Supreme court argument

This article was originally posted on Guns.com

Gun industry groups insist the legal requirement for semi-auto handguns to mark cartridges with a microscopic array of characters, that identify the make, model and a serial number of the pistol upon firing is “impossible to accomplish” in actual field conditions. (Photo: UCDavis)

California’s high court is set to hear arguments in a long running case brought by firearms industry groups who say the state’s microstamping requirement is unattainable.

The case, challenging the state’s 2007 unsafe handgun modification requirements, is set for arguments in a Los Angeles court on April 4.

Plaintiffs, the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute, insist the legal requirement for semi-auto handguns to mark cartridges with a microscopic array of characters, that identify the make, model and serial number of the pistol upon firing is “impossible to accomplish” and has only worked to artificially limit choices available to California gun buyers. At stake is the ability to purchase newly manufactured semi-auto handguns in the state.

“Since going into effect this ill-advised law has banned the introduction of any new models of handguns into California reducing consumers’ ability to purchase the best and most advanced handguns on the market while doing nothing to improve public safety,” said Michael Bazinet, an NSSF spokesman in a statement to Guns.com.

The suit was originally brought by the trade groups in 2014, arguing that the technology was unproven in actual field conditions and easy for criminals to defeat.

California Superior Court Judge Donald Black dismissed the case in 2015, citing the state had sovereign immunity and further holding the gun groups lacked standing to sue. On a subsequent appeal to the California 5th Appellate District, a three-judge panel later held that NSSF and SAAMI have “a right to present evidence to prove their claim” and the state Supreme Court voted last year to hear the case.

In 2014, just after the California Department of Justice began enforcing the mandate that new pistols submitted for approval to the state’s firearm roster incorporate microstamping capabilities, there were some 1,152 approved models. That roster has since constricted to 791 as legacy handguns, certified for a five-year period, cannot meet the new requirement. For instance, no Generation 4 or 5 Glocks handguns have been approved for sale in California. While handgun giant Ruger has 60 models on the list, all but one is a revolver, which are exempt from the microstamping requirement.

“We look forward to the arguments and are confident the Supreme Court will affirm the Court of Appeal rejection of the state’s argument and permit us to prove that it is impossible for firearms manufacturers to comply with the mandates of the statute,” said Bazinet.

The California Department of Justice and state Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment or statement.

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