Friday, February 7, 2014

How California's Attorney General Is Effectively Banning Handguns

AG Harris's Slow Motion Gun Ban
(Updates at bottom of post)

To understand how she is doing this, you have to understand a bit about California's complex gun laws - and how she has been able to assemble these component laws into a virtual ban.

Component one: The State Approved Handgun List.  For many years, in order to be sold by a gun dealer, a handgun must be on California's "roster" of "not unsafe" handguns.  This law was passed with the stated purpose of making handguns more expensive so that the poor could not afford them.  It does this in three ways:

First, it requires safety testing - which to the author's dismay, most of the so called "Saturday Night Specials" passed.   In this regard, it failed.

Second, the gun's manufacturer or importer, AND NO ONE ELSE, must pay a fee every two years to keep it on the roster of "not unsafe" handguns.  How a gun becomes less safe because a tax has not been paid is beyond me - but this has the effect of banning the commercial sales of most used handguns EVEN IF THEY HAVE PASSED THE TEST!  This, of course, has the same effect as a ban on the sale of used cars would - it prices people out of the market.  This, of course, was the whole idea.

Third, to be placed on the list, a "new model" handgun must incorporate an ever expanding list of so called "safety features" - many of which have questionable safety value.  This has the effect of limiting the number of handgun models available, making smaller models unavailable, and increasing the cost of models that are able to pass the test. 

If you are still thinking that this law is about safety, consider this: POLICE ARE EXEMPT.  That's right, California police agencies can and usually do issue guns that are supposedly unsafe.  In fact, the most common handgun issued to police - the Glock - lacks the "safety features" now required to get on the list.

Of course, this is likely unconstitutional since the 2008 Heller decision by the Supreme Court which made firearms ownership a civil right.  (Imagine if the government tried to regulate what books could be sold in the name of public safety!)   Gun rights groups are currently challenging it.

Component two: Microstamping requirement.  Several years ago, the legislature passed a law requiring technology that stamped the guns serial number on the fired casing be added to the requirements to get on the "roster" as soon as it became "feasible".  Although not one gun maker believes this is feasible,  AG Harris has decreed that it is now feasible and that it shall now be required to get on the roster.

Of course, this only bans new models - guns previously certified should be able to remain on the list as long as the manufacturer pays the fee.  However, AG Harris has figured out a way around this.

Component three: A "unique" definition of a "new design".  No one would consider a car with leather seats instead of vinyl seats a "new model" or "new design" - but, under AG Harris, ANY change is now considered a "new model" that must meet ALL new requirements - including the non-existent microstamping technology.   For instance, if the alloy of metal used to make a safety lever is changed, Harris now considers that to be a new model.  Since it is routine for manufacturers to make such small changes, VIRTUALLY EVERY PISTOL WILL EVENTUALLY NEED TO BE RETESTED AND RECERTIFIED. 

In spite of the fact that California is a huge handgun gun market - one of the largest in the nation at about 8% of all sales - the two largest manufacturers of pistols in the nation - Smith & Wesson and Ruger - have already announced that they will not attempt to certify any new models in California.  In the past, these two gun makers have bent over backwards to meet California requirements in ways others have not, often designing models specifically to meet the state's mandates.  Not any more - and if the nation's two largest pistol makers can no longer comply, it is all but certain that no one can.  So as models are "bumped off" the roster due to tiny changes, or even the allegation that tiny changes have been made, they will not be recertified.  They will just disappear from the market.

Of course, both gun owners groups and the gun industry are suing - but one thing is sure, this is an attempt to ban all modern handguns, one model at a time.  For more information, check out the links below:

2/10/2014 - From Calguns foundation:
"In January, The Calguns Foundation published its report on the roster’s effects on the California handgun market, which illustrates that the roster is an effective ban on handguns in common use for self-defense. The report, based on the California Department of Justice’s own roster database, shows that an average of 59 semi-automatic handguns have been removed from the roster every year for the past decade. However, 58 handgun models have already been removed by DOJ since January 1 of this year, with many more removals expected in coming months."


2/27/2014 - Ruger has announced that none of it's semi-auto handguns will be available sometime this Fall.   

4/8/2014 - As dozens of handguns fall off the register and can no longer be sold, the NRA and Ruger have produced a video in which experts in their fields explain in detail how microstamping is completely impossible to implement.  The requirement is that it work 100% of the time, with ALL ammo.  It must imprint the case in two places - the primer and the cartridge case. They have been able to get it to work intermittently on the primer.  It's even less reliable on the cartridge case - because they can be made out of so many different materials. Brass, Steel, and Aluminum are all used and in some unknown way manufacturers are supposed to get it to work 100% of the time. 

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