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Ruger, S&W CEOs help SAF lawsuit v. Cal. microstamping

SAF's Alan Gottlieb publicly thanked gun companies for helping SAF's lawsuit against California gun regs.
Dave Workman

Saying that California’s microstamping mandate is unworkable, the heads of two legendary American gun companies have filed statements with the federal court that support a Second Amendment Foundation lawsuit against the law, and yesterday, SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb publicly thanked both men.

Statements were submitted to the court Wednesday by Sturm, Ruger CEO Michael O. Fifer and Smith & Wesson President and CEO James Debney. Gottlieb said that his organization “will be eternally grateful for the timely support.”

Gottlieb, fresh from back-to-back battles in Olympia against another proposed law that he, and many others, insist will not work – the 18-page Initiative 594, the gun control measure endorsed Tuesday by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords that is supported by wealthy donors in the Seattle area and Mayors Against Illegal Guns – issued a statement Thursday that also thanked Glock for submitting an amicus curiae brief late last year that also supports the case, known as Pena v. Lindley.

Gottlieb was representing another group, Protect Our Gun Rights, in his capacity as chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, in his Olympia appearances.

Both Ruger and S&W confirmed several days ago that they will not be microstamping handgun models as required by the California law, which was signed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger but takes full effect this year. In statements submitted to the court in support of the SAF lawsuit both gun company CEOs were critical of the technology.

In his statement, Fifer bluntly observed, “There is no workable microstamping technology today, and Ruger believes that California’s microstamping regulations make compliance impossible.”

Debney concurs in his statement, noting, “Smith & Wesson does not believe it is possible currently to comply with California’s microstamping regulations. Quite simply, the state law requires the technology to perform at a level that it cannot.”

In its brief, submitted by attorneys Erik S. Jaffe of Washington, D.C. and John C. Eastman of Orange, Calif., Glock maintained that neither its pistols nor any other handgun in common use can comply with California’s microstamping mandate.

SAF originally filed the lawsuit in 2009 and amended it last June to include microstamping. Various sources contend that microstamping, which utilizes a code etched into either the firing pin face or inside the chamber of a semi-auto pistol – or in both places – can be easily defeated with a file and/or change of firing pins.

Nearly six years ago, independent firearms examiner C. Rodney James, Ph.D – writing on the subject for the National Rifle Association – went into great detail as to why the technology is not reliable.

In addition to Ruger, S&W and Glock, this column has privately been tipped that at least one other major gun company that produces semi-auto pistols is not going to use microstamping in its pistol production.

In the firearms community, microstamping is viewed as just one more Trojan horse strategy to discourage gun ownership by making it more difficult for gun companies to provide products to their customers. As such, a mandate for such technology falls into the same quagmire as registration and/or licensing requirements, and so-called “universal background checks.”

As this week’s hearings in Olympia confirmed, there is serious disagreement on what I-594 will and will not accomplish, and what devilish details lay hiding in the tall grass of the small print.

As Gottlieb noted in his statements to both the House Judiciary and Senate Law & Justice committees, comparing I-594 to the simpler competing Initiative 591, the background check process “should be quick, simple and without a mountain of bureaucratic red tape or 18 pages of complicated regulations designed to discourage rather than encourage the exercise of a constitutionally-protected, fundamental civil right.”

I-591, he said, “contains two simple clauses that all voters can understand without consulting their attorney.”


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