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Gunmakers Smith & Wesson, Sturm Ruger refuse to sell their products in California

Published time: January 24, 2014 18:28
A visitor tests a Smith & Wesson gun model M&P9, 9 millimetre, at the MILIPOL International State Security Exhibition (Reuters / Regis Duvignau)

A visitor tests a Smith & Wesson gun model M&P9, 9 millimetre, at the MILIPOL International State Security Exhibition (Reuters / Regis Duvignau)

Rather than comply with California’s new “microstamping” gun law, some companies have decided their best course of action is to simply stop selling their firearms in the state.

Both Smith & Wesson and Sturm Ruger have announced that they will halt the sales of numerous gun models in California that would be subject to a law which opponents believe is intended to infringe on gun rights.

Last year, California chose to enact Assembly Bill 1471, which mandates that manufacturers of semi-automatic weapons implement technology that engraves a gun’s serial number, along with other information, onto a bullet’s casing when it’s fired. This “stamp” would potentially allow law enforcement agencies to trace guns more easily in the event of a crime.

As the Los Angeles Times reported, the law was originally passed in 2007, but delayed until the stamping technology required became easily available. Multiple police chiefs, public officials, and anti-violence groups came out in favor of the legislation, but gun makers and their advocates - such as the National Rifle Association - were strongly opposed.

“Smith & Wesson does not and will not include microstamping in its firearms,” the manufacturer said in a press release. “A number of studies have indicated that microstamping is unreliable, serves no safety purpose, is cost prohibitive and, most importantly, is not proven to aid in preventing or solving crimes.”

“The microstamping mandate and the company’s unwillingness to adopt this so-called technology will result in a diminishing number of Smith & Wesson semi-automatic pistols available for purchase by California residents.”

In a statement made on the website for the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), Sturm Ruger also announced that its semi-automatic pistols would be pulled out of California due to the microstamping law.

"We are working hard to serve our customers in California and will do all we can to fight this draconian law," the statement reads.

According to Fox News, many critics of the law argue that microstamping’s ability to aid criminal investigations is limited, since most cases typically involve stolen handguns. Supporters, meanwhile, believe that even if a gun is stolen, tracing it back to its original owner could lead to information that would help further an investigation.

In an attempt to prevent the law from remaining on the books, however, the NSSF and the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute have filed a lawsuit against California, arguing that the legislation is unconstitutional.

In addition to California, other states such as Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts are also contemplating enacting microstamping requirements.

While Smith & Wesson and Sturm Ruger will stop providing new semi-automatic pistols in California, the two companies will continue to sell other handguns, such as revolvers and bolt action rifles.