Despite an extensive disinformation campaign by the gun industry, microstamping came
within a single vote of being sent to the Governor’s desk during the past legislative
session in California. As legislators around the country consider implementing
microstamping in their own states, we would like to set the record straight on the
LIE #1: There is “no support” from California law enforcement for
TRUTH: Microstamping is supported by more than 55 police chiefs, sheriffs and
prosecuting attorneys across California. Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton
has stated, “I strongly believe microstamping is a valuable tool that will enhance
law enforcement's ability to gather intelligence and put bad guys behind bars."
Microstamping technology is also supported by California State Attorney General
LIE #2: The technology can be easily defeated “in seconds” by criminals
using “common household tools.”
TRUTH: Handguns equipped with microstamping technology create a redundant
system for transferring the make, model and serial number of a handgun to a
cartridge. The system makes multiple marks and is designed with “anti-counter
measures” to prevent tampering. Most criminals would not even know how to find
the technology—it is not visible to the naked eye—never mind defeat it. The firing
pin on a handgun equipped with microstamping technology is nearly as hard as a
diamond and impervious to common household tools. And if the firing pin were
replaced, the redundant markings would transfer the information to the cartridge.
LIE#3: Criminals will gather used microstamped cartridges at government
facilities and private shooting ranges and “seed” crime scenes with this
false evidence to implicate others and cover their trail.
TRUTH: There is nothing to stop criminals from taking such measures now to
fool the existing ballistics identification system in the state (the National
Integrated Ballistics Information Network), but they rarely do, according to law
enforcement officials. Experience shows that most criminals fail to take even
modest precautions, like removing license plates from a stolen car or wearing
gloves during burglaries.
LIE#4: Microstamping would lead to significant price increases for firearms
consumers, as much as $150 per firearm.
TRUTH: Todd Lizotte, the developer of microstamping technology, has testified
that outfitting new semiautomatic handguns with the technology will cost gun
manufacturers only between 50 cents and one dollar per firearm. The process is
analogous to the current laser processes used to create micro serial numbers on
handguns sold in Massachusetts.
LIE#5: Microstamped cartridges could not be recycled because they might
implicate secondary users of reloaded cartridges. This would require an
expensive and alternative disposal process.
TRUTH: Trained forensic examiners can easily identify recycled cartridges and
are called on to do so now as part of their standard operating procedure when
investigating gun crimes. Microstamping technology will not change this process,
and examiners will clearly understand that evidence from a recycled cartridge
could come from two separate firearms. Standard firearms examination provides
for this type of determination using a series of characteristics, which include
orientation of markings, the use of reload primers, mismatched bullet/projectiles
and powder residue. No special requirements are necessary.
LIE #6: Implementation of the technology would result in a ban on all
ammunition in California.
TRUTH: Microstamping imposes no requirements on manufacturers of
ammunition. The legislation would impose manufacturing requirements only on
the makers of newly designed semiautomatic handguns sold in the state after
January 1, 2009.
LIE #7: Microstamping is a sole-source technology that would create a
government-sanctioned monopoly for a single company.
TRUTH: The patent holder of microstamping technology has announced that a
royalty-free license will be provided to every firearms manufacturer on guns sold
LIE #8: Microstamping would be ineffective because only a small
percentage of gun crime is committed by criminals using handguns they
TRUTH: The percentage of gun crime committed by legal versus illegal handgun
owners is not relevant to the effectiveness of microstamping. Microstamping will
help law enforcement solve crimes committed with new semiautomatic handguns
by providing substantial investigatory links that can aid in identifying the handgun
and the perpetrator in handgun crimes. Currently, no arrest is made in
approximately 45 percent of all homicides in California because police lack the
evidence they need to identify suspects, and of the approximately 2,400
homicides in California, over 60 percent are committed with handguns (2004
California Department of Justice data).
LIE #9: Microstamped markings would be altered by residue produced by
the normal firing of a gun, or by owners cleaning and caring for their
TRUTH: Microstamping technology is designed to withstand even deliberate
tampering. The structures created by the microstamping process are nearly as
hard as a diamond. Normal wear and tear and routine maintenance on a firearm
will have absolutely no effect on the technology’s ability to mark cartridges.
LIE #10: The technology has not been studied or tested “in the real world.”
TRUTH: Independent examiners have fired thousands of rounds with
microstamp-enabled guns and the firearms have continued to produce a
consistent and observable mark. In a May 2006 test at the California Highway
Patrol range, California Assemblyman Paul Koretz was unable to damage the
structures on the firing pin of a microstamped gun using several types of
household files. The results were verified by a firearms expert at the California
Produced by the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Home - CSGV.org
, and the Brady
Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence