California appeals court remands challenge to gun microstamping law News
California appeals court remands challenge to gun microstamping law

[JURIST] California’s 5th District Court of Appeals [official website] on Thursday reversed and remanded [opinion, PDF] a lower court ruling which rejected a challenge to a state law requiring gun microstamping. In 2007 then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger [official profile] signed a bill [materials] intended to combat gun trafficking and ease crime investigations involving bullet casings. The bill required [AP report] gun manufacturers to double-mark semiautomatic pistols with “a microscopic array of characters” that would identify the weapon and imprint on inserted cartridges when fired. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI) [advocacy websites] later challenged the law, stating that microstamping guns on two different areas is technologically impossible. According to the gun manufacturers, only the firing pin can be marked as required by the law, and such a marking would lead to unreliable imprinting results. The state argued that the law can be satisfied by double-marking the safety pin. Justice Herbert Levy stated, however, that such double-marking would not satisfy the law’s legislative intent since imprinting could be prevented by simply removing the firing pin. Levy concluded that “it is unreasonable to require an individual to attempt what is impossible to accomplish.” The matter will now return to the lower court, where the manufacturers will be able present evidence supporting the technological impossibility of the law’s requirements.

Gun control and the Second Amendment continue to be controversial topics across the US. Last month voters in California, Nevada and Washington approved [JURIST report] a host of new gun control measures while one such measure in Maine failed to pass. In September the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit restored [JURIST report] gun ownership rights of two individuals convicted of minor crimes. In June the US Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] that a state law conviction on reckless domestic assault is sufficient to bar possession of a firearm under federal law. Earlier in June Hawaii Governor David Ige signed a bill [JURIST report] requiring gun owners to be listed on an FBI database, notifying police if a Hawaii citizen is arrested in another state and providing a continuous criminal record check on those individuals seeking to possess a firearm. Also in June the US Supreme Court denied certiorari [JURIST report] in two separate cases challenging bans on assault-style weapons. The court denied the appeals without comment, letting stand lower court rulings that had upheld the bans [JURIST report] as constitutional.