Ruger CEO Miker Fifer. Image from Guns
If you haven\'t heard, the state of California is in the middle of fully implementing a microstamping law that would require gun manufacturers to use microscoping engravings on the firing pin for ballistics identification at crime scenes, a that was law signed into effect under former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2007. The reason why it is taking effect now is because of various patent laws that are expiring, allowing the government to fully implement the law.
On the surface, this appears to be a law that is meant to aid in law enforcement investigations, but it is a misguided law that will inevitably raise the cost on gun manufacturing, which could cost thousands of jobs, and could consequently close down the semi-auto handgun market in California. According to Attorney General Kamala Lee Harris, the law will only target semi-automatic handguns, but if the law is in place, it could very well raise handgun prices by at least $200. And this is a law that many around the country should pay attention to in the wake of pending federal legislation, and there is similar microstamping law that has been circulating in New York.
Ruger Stepping In
But guns rights groups including the NRA have vowed legal action, and gun manufacturers like Ruger CEO Mike Fifer is lending vocal support to a lawsuit by the Second Amendment Foundation against California, a lawsuit that was originally filed in 2009, but was amended last June to include the microstamping law. Last month, there was some rumor that Ruger would be withdrawing from the California market, but Fifer has vowed to fight the legislation with gun rights groups and other manufacturers. Smith and Wesson also refuses to pull out of the California market, and has even gone on record in saying that the company will not comply with the microstamping law. Ruger has also said they will not follow the law.
Ruger Restriction in California
Ruger has yet to take any legal action, other than an official declaration from Fifer, but it is a fight Ruger needs to join, since the company and others have already been affected by California laws, being unable to sell semi-auto handguns without loaded chamber indicators and magazine disconnect devices. As a result, the SR 1911 and LCP are barred from the California marketplace, two of Ruger\'s most popular models.
On top of this, any minute modification, even if it does not have an impact on the function of the gun, must be resubmitted for roster testing as of May 17, 2013, according to Ruger\'s official statement. And any resubmitted handgun would have to comply with the new microstamping provision. The only exception would be \"purely cosmetic changes.\" This essentially freezes handgun innovation, and new semi-autos on the market would be out of the question under the law.
These set of laws would place an undue economic burden on manufacturers, and could very well drive manufacturers out of California, which may be the ultimate goal of the legislation to begin with. According to unbiased studies, the microstamping laws are ineffective when solving crimes, many labs do not have the technology to read identification numbers, and the necessary technology to read any microstamps is not widely available. Manufacturers would have to invest extra time and money in learning how to adopt this technology, which will only strain budgets and raise gun prices. If the law the goes unchallenged, this could be another blow to the firearms industry in California. Gun manufacturers could voice their opposition by withdrawing out of California entirely, but companies like Ruger are not ready to give up on their customers in that state.
We\'ll have to wait and see if the gun industry will prevail.