Thursday, August 16, 2007

Microstamping Redux...

Newtown, Connecticut -- With the California Senate poised to take up AB 1471, legislation which would mandate the use of an unreliable, easily defeated, patented, sole-sourced technology to microstamp firearms, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) -- the firearm industry's trade association -- is calling upon lawmakers to heed the warnings of experts. The move by NSSF comes on the heels of a recently released study by the University of California at Davis that proves the technology -- called firearms microstamping -- is "flawed" and "does not work well."

The U.C. Davis study, which concluded, "At the current time it is not recommended that a mandate for implementation of this technology in all semiautomatic handguns in the state of California be made. Further testing, analysis and evaluation is required," was initiated at the request of the California legislature.

Firearms microstamping is the patented process that laser engraves the firearm's make, model and serial number on the tip of the gun's firing pin so that, in theory, once the gun is fired the information is imprinted onto the discharged cartridge cases.

"The U.C. Davis study confirms an earlier study on firearms microstamping," said NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Lawrence G. Keane, referring to an independent, peer-reviewed study published last year in the professional scholarly journal for forensic firearms examiners. That work proved that microstamping firearms was unreliable, did not function as the patent holder claimed and could be easily defeated in mere seconds using common household tools.

Though researchers at U.C. Davis have stated that "more testing in a wider range of firearms is needed to determine the costs and feasibility" of mandating microstamping, the California Assembly pushed through the legislation earlier in the year by a vote of 44-29, largely along party lines.

A similar bill (AB 352) failed last year over concerns about reliability, cost and the fact that it is a patented sole-sourced technology. The patent holder, New Hampshire-based ID Dynamics and its owner Todd Lizotte, have been aggressively lobbying the legislature to pass AB 1471, despite opposition from the firearms and ammunition industry and law enforcement groups such as the Peace Officers Research Association of California and the Orange County Sheriff.

"The U.C. Davis study and earlier peer-reviewed research only serve to further validate our longstanding concerns that this technology is unreliable, that it simply does not work as advertised and can and will be easily defeated by criminals in seconds using common household tools," continued Keane. "We encourage the California Senate to do the right thing and reject this bill."

For more information on the facts concerning microstamping, please visit:

NSSF Backgrounder on U.C. Davis

NSSF Backgrounder on Krivosta - AFTE study

NSSF Backgrounder on Microstamping Costs

NSSF Backgrounder on Microstamping and Crime