Gun rights advocates were quick to spot the ignorance that defined California State Senator Kevin de Leόn’s press conference announcement of a bill to ban what he called “ghost guns,” his hysterical legislative response to plastic printing technology applied to firearms and to unfinished lower receivers requiring milling and drilling by enthusiasts who build their own rifles from parts. Spouting nonsensical terms like “sniper automatic weapons,” de Leόn’s presentation bordered on the bizarre with his claim “This right here has ability with a 30-caliber clip to disperse with 30 bullets within half a second. Thirty-magazine clip in half a second.”
The thing is, to his fellow anti-gun colleagues in the California Legislature, the senator was making what they refer to as “common sense,” meaning they don’t like any guns and want to torpedo anything and everything to do with them, whether the promised reasons behind edicts and bans materialize or not.
That’s clear from the results of the Golden State’s law on microstamping, enacted under the promise that requiring all semiautomatic handguns to imprint identifying information on shell casings would, in the words of bill author Mike Feuer, allow authorities “to crack down on gun crime and to put behind bars gun criminals who otherwise would never be effectively prosecuted because there would never be a lead in those cases.”
The upshot of that?
“Recently Smith & Wesson and Sturm Ruger put even more weight behind that argument,” Kirk Siegler reported on NPR’s Business News. “They’re stopping selling handguns in California markets altogether, rather than comply with the new law.”
That’s not quite accurate.
“It is incorrect … to assert that Ruger is pulling out of California, as so many have said,” Tom Gresham told me, referencing his interview on the nationally-syndicated “Gun Talk” radio program with Ruger CEO Mike Fifer. “Ruger is not stopping sending guns for approval by California. It continues to submit semi-autos for approval, just as it always has. Of course, [the state] is rejecting the pistols because they do not incorporate microstamping.”
“My prediction is within a year or two, they’re all gone,” Fifer told Gresham. “Everything’s off the list.”
“[A]lthough it continually seeks ways to refine and improve its firearms so that consumers have access to the best possible products, the State of California is making that impossible when it comes to California residents,” Smith & Wesson said in a company press release explaining its position. “Under California’s ‘Unsafe Handgun Act,’ any new semi-automatic pistol introduced into that state must comply with microstamping laws.
“Smith & Wesson does not and will not include microstamping in its firearms,” the release explained. “A number of studies have indicated that microstamping is unreliable, serves no safety purpose, is cost prohibitive and, most importantly, is not proven to aid in preventing or solving crimes.”
Both companies have filed statements supporting the Second Amendment Foundation’s lawsuit challenging the microstamping law. But that process takes years, and there is no guarantee of outcome.
In the mean time, de Leόn’s “ghost gun” terminology could become eerily appropriate, albeit not in reference to the plastic kind. If California gunbusters get their way, they’ll kill the industry, and nothing will remain but haunting memories of a betrayed and vanished spirit.
By David Codrea