Carona says no to imprinted bullets – L.A.’s Baca says yes

As our state legislature closes out another session voting on a myriad of Bills let me share some thoughts about AB 1471.

If approved it mandates, commencing January 2010, that “all semiautomatic pistols that are not already listed on the “not unsafe handgun” roster shall be designed and equipped with a microscopic array of characters that identify the make, model and serial number of the pistol, etched or otherwise imprinted onto the interior surface or internal working parts of the pistol, and which are transferred by imprinting on each cartridge case when the firearm is fired provided that the Department of Justice certify that the technology used to create the imprint is available at more than one manufacturer unencumbered by any patent restrictions.”

Supporters of the Bill include O.C. chiefs of police services representing the cities of Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Irvine, Newport Beach, Tustin and Westminster. Other supporters include the mayor and chief of police of the City of Los Angeles as well as L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca.

Opposing the bill is OC Sheriff Carona and a listing of other out of the area police chiefs and private groups.


The North State Sheriffs’ state, “As we see it, the technology to implement the micro-stamping is flawed, there would be an increase in the potential for civil liability for law enforcement agencies that continue to use handguns which will be placed on the “unsafe” handgun list, there would be an increase in law enforcement training costs due to not being able to reuse spent cartridge casings, the technology could be easily defeated since the stamping is only 25 microns deep and the cost of the technology would be passed on to law enforcement agencies and citizens alike.”

The California Association of Firearm Retailers state, “The technology which this proposed bill seeks to promote has not been shown to work under actual field conditions. Mandating its implementation by law at this time would be excessively premature as it cannot be scientifically justified, and it has not been proven to be practical in application. Impartial testing to date has raised very serious questions relative to whether this technology could actually work in the field given all the variables and other factors that are present outside of the laboratory.

“For example, criminals can easily defeat it in a number of different ways, and it is well known that the overwhelming majority of handguns used in crime are stolen. Fired casings from them found at crime scenes in most cases would not lead law enforcement to the actual perpetrator. Placing micro-stamping on semi-automatic handguns, even if the technology was reliable, would be ineffective as a law enforcement tool.

“Furthermore, micro-stamping is a “sole source” technology at the present time. It is owned by a single company. If micro-stamping did work, a matter that the results of recent independent scientific research casts in doubt and highly questions, it would probably continue to be “sole source” as other forms of cartridge case marking have reportedly been proven to be more difficult and costly to engineer.

“This increases the likelihood that the sole source problem would in fact continue and that the costs of using it would not be contained by realistic competition. The result would be higher costs for retailers and their customers for a system that is not reliable and would not be of much assistance to law enforcement.”

The Third Reading of this proposal was scheduled for today.

Based on your own thoughts and the opposing argument cited above, what’s your thoughts about the possible crime-fighting benefits of this legislation?

About Larry Gilbert