On Monday, a bill to require micro-stamping on all handguns carried by law enforcement officers was reintroduced into the Assembly after being heavily amended.
Assembly Bill 876, authored by Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel (D-Woodland Hills), would require an extensive addition of microstamping, which imprints tiny markings on cartridges that had been fired from the weapon for quicker identification, on handguns in California. AB 876 would specifically force all state, county, city, and other law enforcement agencies to microstamp handguns purchased or acquired after July 1, 2023 that they own or are used by officers on duty. The only exception to the bill would be revolvers.
All microstamped handguns would then, within 90 days of acquisition, be entered as a law enforcement weapon into the Automated Firearms System (AFS) via the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (CLETS) by the state, county, city, city and county, or other law enforcement agency.
Assemblyman Gabriel wrote the bill to help law enforcement agencies solve firearm-related crimes quicker, to bring more accountability to law enforcement officers in incidents with firearm discharges, and to expand on the 2007 microstamping law so much that it would force firearm manufacturers to automatically include microstamping on new guns.
“For too long, gun manufacturers have prioritized ideology over safety and fought commonsense efforts to incorporate microstamping technology into new firearms,” Assemblyman Gabriel said Tuesday. “Our legislation will allow California to use its market power to overcome this obstinance and dramatically expand the use of this important technology. In so doing, we’ll create new markets for microstamped guns, help law enforcement solve violent crimes, ensure our police are equipped with better and safer firearms, and bring more accountability and transparency to situations where there has been an officer-involved shooting.”
Gabriel specifically noted that having a law enforcement microstamping requirement in California could help influence the idea to spread to other states.
“We’re going to create a market for microstamp guns,” reiterated Gabriel. “There are 86,000 active law enforcement officers in the state of California. Folks are going to want to sell to them, want to be able to compete in that market. This is technology that benefits law enforcement, that is going to help them in their investigations.
“The main priority here is to really overcome the obstinance from gun manufacturers. They’ve resisted at every step of the way.”
AB 876 quickly drew support from many other lawmakers following the bills reintroduction on Monday.
“Microstamping is a commonsense, crime-solving tool,” noted Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco), who has previously authored other microstamping expansion bills. “I am proud to coauthor this effort to ensure this important technology is implemented across the board in California.”
Support for, opposition against AB 876
Gun control groups also supported the bill, expressing that microstamping requirements have been a top stipulation for them for years.
“Californians continue to demand solutions to not only prevent gun violence but to ensure that the state has every resource available when working to heal communities where violence has occurred,” said Brady Campaign President Kris Brown. “This bill will help California ensure that law enforcement not only has the latest technology available to help solve crimes but applies that same technology to officer-involved incidents. This level of transparency and accountability is necessary to ensure the highest level of trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. This is a common-sense bill and Brady is grateful to Assemblymember Gabriel for introducing it.”
However, AB 876 also met strong opposition from lawmakers and gun advocates following the bill being amended.
“Ever since AB 1471 was passed in 2007, gun companies have not brought any newer handgun models into California,” gun range owner and former firearms researcher Clifford Warner explained to the Globe. “So gun companies just don’t sell them here, except in the notable case of the police. Law enforcement. They are exempted from AB 1471, so they can freely buy newer model handguns legally.”
“But, with AB 876, it would essentially force their hand, having to buy weapons with microstamping on it, forcing gun makers to comply to sell in California.”
“So these lawmakers are pretty much saying either step in line and help us bring microstamped guns into California or you won’t be able to get new weapons. They’re trying to brute force gun companies to comply with their law by holding the police hostage. They’re trying to force compliance.”
Gun manufacturers also argued that microstamping on firing pins can be easily erased by criminals, much like serial numbers on guns can be filed off. They also noted on Tuesday that microstamps would wear off after regular firearms practice and training use by law enforcement, making the bill ultimately pointless.
“It’s an unworkable technology,” said National Shooting Sports Foundation spokesman Mark Oliva. “It sounds great on paper but it doesn’t hold up.”
If passed, AB 876 would make California the first state in the US to have a microstamping requirement for law enforcement handguns.
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