Gun Control

Cory Booker's Microstamping Mandate Would Amount to a Ban on New Handgun Models

The Democratic presidential candidate promises to fight for a design requirement that is not currently feasible.

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The list of gun control ideas that Cory Booker unveiled yesterday includes that hoary favorite, a ban on "assault weapons," whatever those are. But it also included a less familiar proposal that would amount to a gun ban: "handgun microstamping."

As the New Jersey senator and Democratic presidential contender explains, "Microstamping is technology that allows law enforcement to identify the source of ammunition used in crimes by making a shell casing traceable to the specific gun that fired the round." The problem is that such technology has not been developed yet in any practical and cost-effective form. So when Booker promises he will "fight to require that microstamping technology be incorporated into new models of semi-automatic handguns sold in the United States," he is actually promising a moratorium on new handgun models until that dream becomes a reality.

That is what happened in California, where a law that took effect in 2013 prohibits the sale of new handgun models unless they are "designed and equipped with a microscopic array of characters that identify the make, model, and serial number of the pistol, etched or otherwise imprinted in two or more places on the interior surface or internal working parts of the pistol, and that are transferred by imprinting on each cartridge case when the firearm is fired." As Judge Jay Bybee noted when he dissented from a 2018 decision in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld that mandate, complying with it does not seem to be feasible.

"So far as we can tell from the meager record before us, no one—including CDOJ [the California Department of Justice]—has ever tested any weapon against California's protocol to see whether it is technologically feasible," Bybee wrote. "The result of CDOJ's restrictive testing protocol is undisputed: since at least 2013, no new handguns have been sold commercially in California."

In a brief urging the Supreme Court to review the 9th Circuit's ruling, the Independence Institute's David Kopel, the Millennial Policy Institute's Joseph Greenlee, and the Mountain States Legal Foundation's Cody Wisniewski highlight the consequences of that moratorium on innovation and improvement. "No Californian can take advantage of the last six years of advances in ergonomics, safety, accuracy, or durability," they write. Prohibited products include a "safer and more accurate" version of Ruger's Lightweight Compact Pistol introduced in 2016, a 2014 version of the Sig Sauer P320 equipped with grips of different sizes to better fit women's hands, and new pistols from Smith & Wesson and Walther Arms that reduce the amount of force required to rack the slide, compensating for the limitations of relatively weak, frail, or physically impaired shooters. Because of the microstamping mandate, Kopel et al. note, "Californians are not allowed to purchase these new and safer guns."

The brief argues that California's de facto ban on new handgun models is inconsistent with what the Supreme Court has said about the weapons covered by the Second Amendment. In the landmark 2008 Second Amendment case District of Columbia v. Heller, the Court unambiguously rejected "the argument, bordering on the frivolous, that only those arms in existence in the 18th century are protected by the Second Amendment," saying, "We do not interpret constitutional rights that way. Just as the First Amendment protects modern forms of communications…and the Fourth Amendment applies to modern forms of search,…the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding." The Court reiterated that point in Caetano v. Massachusetts, a 2016 case involving a state ban on stun guns.

The implication, Kopel et al. argue, is that the Second Amendment does not allow California to arbitrarily freeze handgun technology as it existed in 2013. "The Second Amendment applies just the same to arms from 2008 as to arms from 1791," they write. "Thus, the Amendment also applies equally to firearms from 2014 as from 2012."

If the Supreme Court agrees to take up the case, we may have a definitive ruling on the constitutionality of impossible handgun design mandates that will save Cory Booker the effort of fighting to impose one.

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  1. It looks like Booker is emerging as the preferred candidate of longtime libertarian activist / common sense gun safety advocate Michael Hihn. If he keeps this up he might join Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren in my 2020 top tier.

    #BanAssaultWeapons
    #UnbanMichaelHihn

    1. Michael Hihn has been banned? I thought he had just gone so senile that he couldn’t find his keyboard anymore.

      1. There’s no need to age-shame somebody who has been active in libertarian politics since before most of us here were born.

        1. There’s no need to age-shame somebody who has been active in libertarian politics since before most of us here were born.

          A+ effort, would read again!

          You’d been getting stale, but as of late you’re back on your game.

        2. Age-shame? I thought he was 8.

        3. I think it was more dementia than age, though the two are correlated. Sad, anyway.

      2. He was banned at least once; thus the proliferation of Hinfected socks. That ban included wiping his past comments, which was kind of a bummer — I never got tired of linking to the comment where he claimed he was elected dumbfuck.

        Anyway, I think he either forgot which socks were his, or — more likely — he got caught paying a social call to one of the people on his enemies list.

        1. I’m on his enemies list at least twice.

          1. Twice? Where’s your gofundme page?

          2. I always felt bad that I didn’t make the official list. I asked him why that was once and I said I just wasn’t horrible enough to him… I tried to step up my game, but to no avail 🙁

            1. I asked him a few times to add me and each time he denied he had such a list. He even posted a link to said list, saying something to the effect that it was proof he didn’t have one.

              That guy was weird. (The bold face is requisite, natch.)

        2. It’s more likely he ran out of email accounts to post from and didn’t want to set up burners. He hasn’t darkened HnR’s door for a couple of months now; he usually came back after about a week or two with a new sockpuppet when his previous one was banned.

          His regular account was active for a while, but he apparently pissed off the admins enough that he got on the perma-ban list. Pointing out his 2A idiocy was usually enough to set off the manic behavior that allowed the admins to identify and nuke him again.

  2. Can we mandate the ability to jump from the earth to the moon else you lose your seat in Congress.

  3. 2nd Amendment: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    Requiring microstamping is unconstitutional and therefore illegal.

    Luckily, Booker wont make it past the Primary.

  4. Cory Booker’s Microstamping Mandate Would Amount to a Ban on New Handgun Models

    That’s a feature, not a bug

    1. Beat me to it, but thanks.

    2. Indeed, he almost certainly has been informed the requirement is technically infeasible.

  5. NEWS: CA has already banned all new models of pistols. Why is that not surprising?

  6. The biggest precedent that we need to invoke in this case is that the courts should ban any mandate on fictional technology as prima facie invalid.

    Not unconstitutional. Invalid. Requiring microstamping on guns placed during firing is as absurd as requiring that they shoot plasma bolts or that they must smell like the color nine. It is nonsensical and compliance is impossible.

    One fundamental part of the rule of law is the law itself must be known, understandable, and compliable. Any law that mandates technology that does not exist and possibly cannot exist is not a law at all.

    1. “”they must smell like the color nine.””

      Quit giving them ideas!

      1. I smelled colors once, but I was at a Phish show when I was overwhelmed by olfactory hues.

        1. +1 is it still Lawn Boy?

    2. They would never require that guns shoot plasma bolts. If they did, somebody’s would design and build one.

    3. It is nonsensical and compliance is impossible.

      That is the entire point

      One fundamental part of the rule of law is the law itself must be known, understandable, and compliable.

      True but these people care about power not the rule of law.

    4. “as requiring that they shoot plasma bolts”

      In the 40MW range?

    5. “”One fundamental part of the rule of law is the law itself must be known, understandable, and compliable. Any law that mandates technology that does not exist and possibly cannot exist is not a law at all.”‘

      Here’s Ben applying something that more and more seems to escape the writers for this magazine. Reason.

    6. The biggest precedent that we need to invoke in this case is that the courts should ban any mandate on fictional technology as prima facie invalid.

      Read up on the ethanol mandate. The feds have no problem mandating stuff that can’t possible be done.

  7. the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding.

    Nuh Uh.

    /Hihn The Knowledgeable

    1. Needz moar bold-face.

  8. Booker. Is it me, or does he have crazy eyes? What is it with these new socialists and their crazy eyes? Regardless, Cory Booker can go fuck himself.

    1. More likely he would pay some beefcake to fuck him.

  9. Why is this impossible? On a purely technical basis, it looks like a problem that any among hundreds of MIT undergraduates could solve in about 90 days. Problem is, any gun company that implemented the technology would instantly see all its products boycotted. So every arms-making company would call it impossible, and refuse to do it. “Impossible,” isn’t always about technical challenges.

    1. If the technology were better, maybe it would be more workable. The technology is owned by “NanoMark, a division of ID Dynamics of Seattle, Washington… They are the only company from which this technology can be purchased.” (WIKI). Don’t blame the gun manufacturers. I am pretty sure that Glock could sell a lot of micro-stamped pistols in CA. And folks in other States could still get their “un- numbered” pistol. From what I have heard, and IIRC, what is causing the problem is the requirement that the information has to be stamped in two different places on the cartridge.

    2. It’s not technically impossible, in the sense that you COULD build a gun to do it.

      The resulting gun would be substantially more bulky, a LOT more expensive, and likely quite unreliable compared to current models.

      It’s like, suppose you mandated that all new cars have individualized tires that print a serial number on the road as they roll down it, to make things easier for police. The treads of all four tires would have to match, and be unique to that car.

      Would it be “possible”? Yeah, sure. Would it be a realistic proposal? No. The tires would be absurdly expensive and a logistics nightmare, would likely have lousy traction in bad weather and wear out prematurely, but it would be “possible”.

    3. On a purely technical basis, it looks like a problem that any among hundreds of MIT undergraduates could solve in about 90 days.

      …he says, from a place of perfect ignorance about firearms design and hilariously unwarranted confidence in the capabilities of MIT undergrads.

  10. So if the impossible can be legislated, can we require politicians to tell the truth?

  11. Microstamping- expensive and difficult.
    Defeating microstamping- piece of sandpaper and ten minutes.

    1. It might take longer than 10 minutes. You’d want to use very fine “sandpaper” so it polished the marks off, and didn’t leave the chamber scratched and rough.
      It would be much easier to swap out the barrel.
      And that isn’t the big problem. The vast majority of crimes involving gunshots are committed by criminals with illegally possessed firearms, which have serial numbers that won’t be in the database.

    2. That was exactly what I was going to say! Any system to do this could be overcome pretty easily most likely. But that’s not the point. They want guns to not be sold at all, or if they are to be outrageously expensive, and to just generally poke gun owners in the eye.

  12. Can Cory Booker go fuck himself hard with a rusty saw blade, Barry?

    Yes he can, other Barry; yes he can.

  13. Three seconds with a dremel tool and a light touch, and microstamping magically turns back into the faerie tale which inspired it.

  14. Even if microstamping were possible, it doesn’t matter. We need to start criticizing the core of the argument, which is the “we must do SOMETHING” mentality that so many grabbers live by.

    1. But they’re right! We must “do something,” I’m quite sure of that… I’m thinking we require all people over the age of 18 to carry at least one firearm at all times and in all places… That’s “something” isn’t it? 🙂

  15. At least they went from the non-existent “smart locks” of the 1990’s to a new, equally non-existent technology here.

    Remember…party of science, y’all.

  16. At least the communist garbage pit of NJ’s smart gun mandate only takes effect once feasible handguns are sold with such non-existent technology.

  17. That “T-Bone” a’int too smart.

  18. […] However, one thing some of us (looking squarely at myself here) missed was that his proposal didn’t just stop there. No, he’s calling for a measure that would effectively ban new handgun models for the foreseeable future. […]

  19. […] Cory Booker’s Microstamping Mandate Would Amount to a Ban on New Handgun Models The Democratic presidential candidate promises to fight for a design requirement that is not currently feasible. […]

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