Firearms Industry Takes Stand Against Microstamping
America's leading firearms manufacturers, many of whom are based in Connecticut, held a press conference at the State Capitol to announce a unified industry stand against legislation that would force them to adopt a patented, unreliable sole-sourced technology to microstamp firearms.
The companies attending the press conference included Connecticut-based Colt's Manufacturing Company, Marlin Firearms, O.F. Mossberg and Sons, and Sturm, Ruger and Co., as well as, Springfield, Massachusetts-based Smith & Wesson. Joining the press conference was the Newtown-based National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) - the trade association for the firearms industry - and the Connecticut Association of Firearms Retailers.
Legislation (SB 353) mandating that firearms manufacturers incorporate the patented technology of microstamping would require manufacturers to micro laser-engrave a gun's make, model and serial number on the firing pin of each gun so, in theory, the information is imprinted on the cartridge casing that is discharged when the pistol is fired. Independent peer-reviewed studies have made clear that microstamping is both flawed and easily defeated and should not be mandated without further in-depth study. This view is shared by the firearms industry and law enforcement agencies, such as the National Fraternal Order of Police and the Connecticut Fraternal Order of Police.
Passage of SB 353 could result in all sales of firearms being halted in the state – as manufacturers are forced to abandon the market in lieu of paying the astronomical sums of money needed to completely reconfigure their manufacturing and assembly processes.
Also of concern is whether Connecticut-based firearms manufacturers will move their factories out of the Constitution State – a serious threat given the increased lobbying of pro-gun states such as Idaho and South Dakota, two of many states where legislators are looking for increased tax revenue and jobs for their constituents. Colt Firearms stated last year in testimony that they would consider leaving the state if microstamping became law.
"This feel-good legislation will do more harm than good," said Carlton Chen, Vice President & General Counsel, Colt Firearms. "Let us not make a mistake with the unintended consequences of driving businesses and jobs out of Connecticut."
Mike Holmes, Shop Chairman at Colt Manufacturing, UAW Local 376, expressed outrage about the microstamping legislation. "The proposed microstamping technology would jeopardize the employment of all hard working union members that I represent at Colt. The effects would in turn be far reaching by also hurting our vendors and suppliers around the state also placing their jobs at risk."
The firearms industry, which has contributed $743.8 million in total economic activity to Connecticut in 2008, employs more than 1,750 people in the state and generates an additional 3,100 jobs in supplier industries. In written testimony submitted today, industry officials made clear that many of these jobs would be at risk should microstamping pass into law.
"This is an extraordinarily dangerous bill," said NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Lawrence G. Keane. "Microstamping legislation not only threatens law-abiding gun owners but directly interferes with our industry's ability to supply law enforcement officers and the military with high-quality firearms. We are here today to strongly encourage Connecticut lawmakers to vote down SB 353 – a move that would benefit law-abiding citizens and law enforcement while keeping hundreds of jobs and millions in tax revenue in a state that is considered to be the birthplace of the firearms industry."
Additional: More on Microstamping
Opposition to microstamping legislation has intensified as firearm manufacturers have indicated that even if they chose to remain in the Connecticut market – something that is anything but certain – the passage of a microstamping bill could force them to raise prices of guns significantly, perhaps as much as $200 per firearm, because the unreliable technology would require a complete reconfiguring of the manufacturing and assembly processes.
Last year a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report commented on the technology of firearms microstamping. Scientists said, "Further studies are needed on the durability of microstamping marks under various firing conditions and their susceptibility to tampering, as well as on the cost impact for manufacturers and consumers."
Further emboldening opposition to the microstamping bill is a study by researchers at the University of California at Davis proving that the technology is "flawed" and "does not work well for all guns and ammunition." The authors concluded that, "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."
The authors of the study note that "more testing in a wider range of firearms is needed to determine the costs and feasibility" of mandating microstamping.
The UC Davis study confirms an earlier, independent, peer-reviewed study published in the professional scholarly journal for forensic firearms examiners. That study, by Professor George Krivosta, proved that microstamping technology does not function reliably and the shallow micro laser engraved marks can be removed in mere seconds using common household tools. Professor Krivosta concluded that, "implementing this technology will be much more complicated than burning a serial number on a few parts and dropping them into firearms being manufactured."
"The NAS report, 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," said Keane.