KNOWLEDGE BASE

California’s high court is set to hear arguments in a long running case brought by firearms industry groups who say the state’s microstamping requirement is unattainable.

The case, challenging the state’s 2007 unsafe handgun modification requirements, is set for arguments in a Los Angeles court on April 4.

Plaintiffs, the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute, insist the legal requirement for semi-auto handguns to mark cartridges with a microscopic array of characters, that identify the make, model and serial number of the pistol upon firing is “impossible to accomplish” and has only worked to artificially limit choices available to California gun buyers. At stake is the ability to purchase newly manufactured semi-auto handguns in the state.

“Since going into effect this ill-advised law has banned the introduction of any new models of handguns into California reducing consumers’ ability to purchase the best and most advanced handguns on the market while doing nothing to improve public safety,” said Michael Bazinet, an NSSF spokesman in a statement to Guns.com.

The suit was originally brought by the trade groups in 2014, arguing that the technology was unproven in actual field conditions and easy for criminals to defeat.

California Superior Court Judge Donald Black dismissed the case in 2015, citing the state had sovereign immunity and further holding the gun groups lacked standing to sue. On a subsequent appeal to the California 5th Appellate District, a three-judge panel later held that NSSF and SAAMI have “a right to present evidence to prove their claim” and the state Supreme Court voted last year to hear the case.

In 2014, just after the California Department of Justice began enforcing the mandate that new pistols submitted for approval to the state’s firearm roster incorporate microstamping capabilities, there were some 1,152 approved models. That roster has since constricted to 791 as legacy handguns, certified for a five-year period, cannot meet the new requirement. For instance, no Generation 4 or 5 Glocks handguns have been approved for sale in California. While handgun giant Ruger has 60 models on the list, all but one is a revolver, which are exempt from the microstamping requirement.

“We look forward to the arguments and are confident the Supreme Court will affirm the Court of Appeal rejection of the state’s argument and permit us to prove that it is impossible for firearms manufacturers to comply with the mandates of the statute,” said Bazinet.

The California Department of Justice and state Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment or statement.

The Department of Justice has announced it is seeking to reclassify rifles fitted with bump stocks as ‘machine guns’. This would see the wording of the National Firearms Act and Gun Control Act amended to include ‘bump stock type devices’.

The decision comes in the wake of the shootings in Las Vegas and Florida (although the FL shooter did not have a bump stock). Over the past couple of months a number of prominent bodies including the NSSF, SAAMI and the NRA have signalled their acceptance of the need to review the law.

The Department of Justice is acting on a memorandum signed by the President in February directing the department to make a regulatory change to the law regarding bump stocks.

Two outdoor retailers halted new orders of Vista Outdoor lifestyle brands — including Camelbak water bottles and Giro ski goggles — over the company’s significant profits from gun and ammunition sales.

REI and Mountain Equipment Co-op announced the decision Thursday after customers pressured the respective retailers to cut ties with Vista in the wake of the Parkland shooting last month. Vista’s “silence” on gun control and close ties with the National Rifle Association even inspired angry REI patrons to draft an online petition demanding the retailer drop Vista products entirely. The petition garnered more than 18,500 signatures as of Friday.

“REI does not sell guns,” the company said in a news release Thursday. “We believe that it is the job of companies that manufacture and sell guns and ammunition to work towards common sense solutions that prevent the type of violence that happened in Florida last month.”

Smith & Wesson’s parent company, American Outdoor Brands Corporation, released its Third Quarter Fiscal 2018 Financial Results on 1st March announcing a substantial fall in sales. The company expects ‘flattish’ revenues from the firearms sector for at least the next 12 to 18 months.

Established in 2002, American Outdoor brands include Smith & Wesson, Gemtech and Crimson Trace. On the 1st March, the company reported that quarterly net sales fell by 32.6% – down to $157.4 million, compared to the $233.5 million for the third quarter of 2017.

In a press release issued with the financial report James Debney, President and CEO explained that the company’s “results for the third quarter reflected a continuation of challenging market conditions in the consumer market for firearms. …new, lower levels of consumer firearm demand we saw reflected in the January NICS results may continue for some time.”

The National Rifle Association called corporations breaking partnerships with the gun lobby a “shameful display of political and civic cowardice.”

“Let it be absolutely clear. The loss of a discount will neither scare nor distract one single NRA member from our mission to stand and defend the individual freedoms that have always made America the greatest nation in the world,” the organization said in a statement on Saturday.

With a national force deriding the organization’s stance on gun control policies following the deadly Florida school shooting, activists turned their focus on the companies that do business with the gun lobby. About two dozen brands so far have ended partnerships in which they offered discounted rates and services to NRA members.

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