A federal court has rejected a challenge to California’s gun safety law, possibly paving the way for a requirement that new guns mark the bullets they fire so they can be traced.
The ruling on Wednesday was a defeat for two gun rights groups that argued the Unsafe Handgun Act violated the constitutional right to bear arms.
The law prohibits the manufacture or sale in California of any gun that doesn’t meet certain safety requirements. It was aimed at outlawing cheap “Saturday Night Specials” that were disproportionally used in crimes.
A 2007 amendment added a requirement that new or modified semi-automatic handguns include technology that microstamps a bullet casing with a code identifying the gun’s make, model and serial number.
That requirement was held up by concerns about patent issues on the technology but took effect in 2013. However, the federal challenge continued.
This week’s ruling “means that more gun crimes will be solved, more lives will be saved and California communities will be safer,” said a Friday statement from Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, who authored the 2007 amendment when he was a state Assembly member.
The gun safety law initially was challenged in 2009 by the nonprofit Second Amendment Foundation and Calguns Foundation, Inc.
Their lawsuit argued that the state law unconstitutionally prevented some members from buying certain types of handguns that were not on the state’s roster of permitted weapons.
The judge in the federal case rejected the argument that the law was onerous, saying that the commercial sale of firearms in the state “proceeds robustly,” with about 1.5 million handgun transactions since the lawsuit was filed.
The ruling also noted that the state’s roster of permitted handguns includes 795 models.
More from Orange County Register:
The law doesn’t violate the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment because gun owners don’t have a right to specific types of firearms, U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller in Sacramento said in her ruling.
“Plaintiffs insist they have the right to determine the precise way in which they would exercise their Second Amendment rights,” Mueller said. The insistence upon particular handguns falls “outside the scope of the right to bear arms,” she said.
Several observations are in order at this point. First of all, Ms. Kimberly Mueller was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2010. So much for gun rights being important to the GOP.
Next, it bears noting that while Ms. Mueller ruled that “[t]he insistence upon particular handguns falls “outside the scope of the right to bear arms,” she should have ruled that the constitution contains the phrase “shall not be infringed,” and that infringing is exactly what this law does.
Third, as to the notion that “this week’s ruling “means that more gun crimes will be solved, more lives will be saved and California communities will be safer,” said a Friday statement from Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, who authored the 2007 amendment when he was a state Assembly member,” it means nothing of the sort and Mr. Feuer is a liar.
Peaceable citizens purchase handguns from FFLs who follow the law. Such people do not commit crimes where cartridges can be used to trace back to the particular person and weapon used to commit the crime. That’s all a smokescreen to hide the real intent of the law.
They will no doubt argue that in order for this to work, they must implement the necessary corollary to the microstamping law, which is universal gun registration. No, not just universal background checks, which effects sales going forward, but universal gun registration where the authorities have a record of all guns and who owns them. The German Nazis wanted to know this sort of information too. Of course, none of this has any effect on guns owned by criminals who will not register them. It only applies to peaceable citizens.
Finally, the entire issue with the number of guns on the approved list today is yet another ruse. The guns will fall off the list very soon. The problem is that the list includes guns that do not include microstamping technology, and this is okay as long as no modifications are made. Modifications might include melonite coating, different grips, safety improvements, match grade barrels, or anything else. Since manufacturers do make routine minor (or major) modifications involving retooling the assembly line and machinery, that means that any new gun must include microstamping technology.
Gun manufacturers know exactly what will happen to their customer base if they produce weapons that are microstamped. It will disappear from the face of the earth, and California politicians likely know this and are using it to rid California of legally sold guns. In other words, they know that the “robust” sale of guns in California is a lie as it pertains to future sales.
I have interacted with Smith & Wesson, and to my dismay they won’t go on record and indicate to me that will refuse to sell to law enforcement if they cannot sell to other citizens. This is a shame and a travesty of justice. They will sell guns to law enforcement, while other citizens will see their list of potential guns dry up. But to be fair to Smith & Wesson, the same is true of Glock, H&K and other manufacturers. I just have more respect for the quality of S&W products and believe that they could be a beacon of liberty in California if they chose to. They have not chosen to. They have chosen money over freedom.
The NSSF has also weighed in.
… as several independent, peer-reviewed studies have shown, this nascent technology is flawed. It is incapable of reliably, consistently and legibly imprinting the required identifying information in two locations on an expended cartridge casing. Even the patent holder in a 2012 study he co-authored acknowledged the problems with this technology and called for further study rather than mandating its use. A National Academy of Science review, forensic firearms examiners and a UC Davis study reached similar conclusions. Because of the technology’s inherent limitations, no manufacturer can comply with this new law.
What the Legislature actually did was ban the innovation and stop the continuous improvement of today’s manufacturing processes that would otherwise enhance firearms safety and other functionality.
Compounding the problem is the state attorney general’s overreaching definition of what constitutes a “new model,” thus triggering the microstamping requirement. According to the attorney general, the slightest modification or design enhancement done as part of the normal manufacturing process for any product, such as changing the way a part is made or its dimensions to make it stronger and more durable, is a “new model,” which would now require microstamping. As a result, pistol models deemed as “not unsafe” by California are rapidly falling off the approved-for-sale roster.
And that’s what I just told you. But notice the way Lawrence Keane broaches the subject. He says, “What the Legislature actually did was ban the innovation and stop the continuous improvement of today’s manufacturing processes that would otherwise enhance firearms safety and other functionality.”
He means that the technology could otherwise be good and wholesome and improve safety and functionality. He doesn’t mention that its corollary is universal gun registration and that we will not cross that line. Ever. Ever.
The NSSF is not your friend. Their argument is wrongheaded because they have crafted it according to their wrongheaded views. These measures in California are totalitarian in nature and the time has come and gone for peaceable folk to negotiate and befriend the process. The black robes of the Supreme Court will not overrule Ms. Mueller. It sounds to me like one of two things is in order. Either civil disobedience, or relocation because the war for California is lost. I do not begrudge either choice, and I don’t know which is best.
But as for me and my house, we will treat guns designed with microstamping as I do so-called “smart guns. I will never have one.