In a recent letter to California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown, the California Police Chiefs Association (CPCA) expressed concern over the "hasty implementation" of firearms microstamping in California and called for further in-depth study of the technology before it is implemented by law in California.
In the letter, CPCA Acting President Susan E. Manheimer wrote, "There are too many unanswered questions with microstamping in its current iteration" and raised concerns that "statements about the capabilities of microstamping may have been technologically premature." In 2007, CPCA supported legislation (AB 1471) to require firearms microstamping in California.
"We appreciate the California Police Chiefs Association call for further study of the technology," said NSSF President Steve Sanetti. "Clearly, concerns over the reliability of firearms microstamping are continuing to grow, especially within the law enforcement community."
Firearms microstamping is the process by which firearms manufacturers would have to micro laser-engrave a gun's make, model and serial number on two distinct parts of each gun, including the firing pin, so that in theory the information would be imprinted on the cartridge casing when the pistol is fired. Legislation mandating microstamping in California was signed into law in 2007 by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.) and was slated to take effect this New Year's Day (2010); however, since the technology remains encumbered by patents it cannot be certified by the California Department of Justice and therefore has not been implemented.
The letter continues, "We support further research of microstamping in light of the new information that has surfaced since California passage of the legislation. Publicly available, peer-reviewed studies conducted by independent research organizations conclude that the technology does not function reliably and that criminals can remove the markings easily in mere seconds. We believe that these findings require examination prior to implementation." The CPCA also expressed concerns over implementing the technology during a very difficult budget environment and the negative impact on law enforcement budgets which are already under significant pressure.
Members of the firearms industry, through the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) the industry's trade association have long supported further study of microstamping since legislation was first introduced in California.
"As many in law enforcement now recognize, independent research has demonstrated the technological failures of firearms microstamping and the need for further study," said NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Lawrence G. Keane. "Understanding this fact, and taking into account the current fiscal crisis in California, we anticipate more groups will follow the CPCA lead and rethink support for this unreliable and easily defeated technology."