http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-27/california-gun-microstamping-law-is-upheld-by-federal-judgeCalifornia Cartridge-Microstamp Law Upheld in Gun Group Loss
by Edvard Pettersson
(Bloomberg) -- California’s ban on new semiautomatic handguns that don’t stamp identifying information on the cartridge was upheld by a U.S. judge in a major loss for gun-rights groups.
The law barring sales of handguns without the microstamping technology doesn’t violate the Constitution’s Second Amendment because gun owners don’t have a right to buy specific types of firearms, U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller in Sacramento said in her ruling.
“Plaintiffs insist they have the right to determine the precise way in which they would exercise their Second Amendment rights,” Mueller said. The insistence upon particular handguns falls “outside the scope of the right to bear arms,” she said.
California in 2013 became the first state to bar retailers from selling new models of semiautomatic handguns not equipped to imprint the weapon’s make, model and serial number on the cartridge when a bullet is fired. The statute was supported by law enforcement because it can help deter or solve crime.
Thursday’s ruling that the requirement doesn’t violate the Second Amendment will prompt other states to impose similar requirements, in particular because there’s wide popular support for ballistic fingerprinting, said Allison Anderman, an attorney with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence in San Francisco.
“Microstamping is a really important tool for law enforcement,” Anderman said in a phone interview.De Facto Ban
Calguns Foundation Inc. and the Second Amendment Foundation argued that the requirement amounts to a de facto ban on sales of new semiautomatics because several manufacturers said they wouldn’t produce guns that included microstamp technology even if it meant their firearms couldn’t be sold in California, the most populous U.S. state.
About 1.5 million handguns were legally sold in California since opponents sued in 2009 to block the microstamping requirement, which according to Mueller’s ruling shows that the law doesn’t effectively ban the sale of firearms in the state.
The District of Columbia, the only other place in the U.S. to mandate microstamping, is set to begin enforcing that requirement next year, Anderman said.
The two gun rights groups said in a court filing Thursday that they will appeal the ruling by Mueller, who was nominated by Democratic President Barack Obama.‘Strong Case’
“The court’s reasoning, that California’s prohibition of most handguns doesn’t even implicate the Second Amendment, is interesting,” Alan Gura, a lawyer for the groups, said Friday in an e-mail. “But we’re confident that we have a strong case on appeal.”
The case may go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in 2008 upheld individuals’ right to own handguns, calling them the “quintessential self-defense weapon.”
The 2008 high court ruling left room for gun-control backers to impose new rules to promote safety. California, New York and Maryland, among other states, enacted restrictions that U.S. gun manufacturers and retailers contend are intended to regulate their $14 billion industry out of business.
The California law was signed in 2007 by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, and was put on hold until 2013 when state Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat running for the U.S. Senate next year, determined the technology was available to all gun makers and wasn’t encumbered by patent claims.
“The court’s ruling means that more gun crimes will be solved, more lives will be saved, and California communities will be safer,” Mike Feuer, the Los Angeles city attorney and the author of the microstamping bill, said in a statement.
The case is Pena v. Cid, 09-cv-01185, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California (Sacramento).