The Eclectic One

…Because labels are a poor substitute for thinking

California Police Chiefs Back Off On Gun Control Measure

Posted by Bill Nance on January 13, 2010

Well, they did it. The California hoplophobes, a decades-long majority in the state legislature  has finally managed to come up with a gun control idea so stupid even the notoriously anti-gun California Police Chiefs Association (CPCA) can’t support it: Microstamping.

In case you don’t know what microstamping is, here’s a good description along with California’s iteration of the process:

Firearms microstamping is the process by which firearms manufacturers would have to micro laser-engrave a gun’s make, model and serial number on two distinct parts of each gun, including the firing pin, so that in theory the information would be imprinted on the cartridge casing when the pistol is fired. Legislation mandating microstamping in California was signed into law in 2007 by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.) and was slated to take effect this New Year’s Day (2010); however, since the technology remains encumbered by patents it cannot be certified by the California Department of Justice and therefore has not been implemented.

Other people have written about this incredibly bizarre idea California is trying to mandate, but I thought I’d add my 2¢, with the excuse of the letter the California Police Chiefs Association (Which has rarely met a people gun control idea it didn’t like) sent to the California AG saying essentially, “woops.

{From the letter: } Publicly available, peer-reviewed studies conducted by independent research organizations conclude that the technology does not function reliably and that criminals can remove the markings easily in mere seconds. We believe that these findings require examination prior to implementation.”

In other words, the technical flaws of the idea without any other argument needing to be made makes this a stupid idea. But the letter itself is a perfect example of the ignorance and hypocrisy inherent in the idea of requiring the microstamp in the first place, much less registering individual gun owners.    In it’s own words the CPCA references the fact that criminals can easily find a way to evade detection via a firearm registration scheme as one of it’s reasons for opposition to the bill.

“Criminals can remove the markings easily in mere seconds.”

The antis can’t manage to come up with even a remotely plausible scenario in which this stuff would solve many crimes, even if they got everything they wanted. But they want it anyway.

To many who don’t know or care much about guns, gun registration doesn’t sound like a big deal. And if you don’t know anything about microstamping, and much more importantly the assumptions that its supposed efectiveness rests upon, it might not sound like a bad thing. I mean, it’s supposed to help the cops solve crimes right?

The only problem is that this simply isn’t the case.

Microstamping guns and registering individual gun owners depends on a large number of things for them to make more than the very slightest difference in catching bad guys. And trust me, I was a crime reporter for years in an area with high gang violence and lots of shootings. I know whereof I speak.

First, and most easily shown to be false, is the required assumption that guns used by criminals are legally owned and obtained by said criminals. Otherwise having the murder weapon (or shell casing in the case of microstamping is useless.- There’s no connection to the shooter. Microstamping, or even posession of the weapon used will only provide a connection to the gun shop that originally sold the gun or if there is registration of guns as well, a connection in some cases to a previous owner of the firearm.

That won’t help.

We have actual numbers on this stuff. They are released by the FBI and most states every single year, and wide-ranging reports, even those submitted by Clinton Administration appointees and staff in the justice department have concluded that the vast majority of crimes are committed by people with previously existing criminal records, which bars any legal purchase of a firearm, people under age to posesss a firearm legally, and in a staggeringly large percentage of cases, where the gun is stolen or obtained from an illegal black market, so far removed from the original source that tracing is virtually impossible.

Essentially, their excuse for logic is that the thing they want to use for crime solving is the one thing they are absolutely certain to not have, even with the most stringent of registration/microstamping provisions.

First, there are a grand total of about 500-600 unsolved homicides in California each year. About 2/3 of those (following national statistics) are committed with a firearm. Many of these are caught the following year, so the real number of cases where absent more information on the gun could possibly help solve otherwise unsolved cases is already very small. Knowing who used to have the gun legally is of very little help in most cases.

Microstamping, even if it were trivial to do and worked every time rests upon the idea that there are lots of cases where:

  1. A registered gun is used in a crime by a legal gun owner or someone to whom he knowingly gave the gun
  2. Which isn’t a revolver
  3. The perpetrator doesn’t pick up his brass
  4. The perpetrator keeps the gun after committing a crime with it instead of reporting it lost/stolen
  5. The perpetrator is not otherwise tied to the crime
  6. The perpetrator hasn’t altered the gun to defeat registration/microstamping requirements

Is this true for more than a handful of cases? For this they want to spend millions, make ammunition AND firearms prohibitively expensive for all but the well-to-do and cost the state yet more jobs as anyone who is in the firearms business or cares about their human right of self defense, rapidly flees the Golden State.  Like the famous “assault weapon” ban, where the Justice department noted that fewer than .75% of gun crimes were committed by “assault weapons” and that hi-capacity magazines seemed to make no difference in terms of numbers of people injured or in rounds fired, this is another solution to a problem that doesn’t exist outside Sarah Brady’s fantasies.

I gave up on Democrat politicians showing any common sense on gun control a long time ago, but this is enough to make my jaded opinions sit back in awe.  This is beyond stupid. As a matter of fact:


12 Responses to “California Police Chiefs Back Off On Gun Control Measure”

  1. David said

    “I gave up on…politicians showing any common sense on gun control a long time ago.” They simply don’t have the guts to do the right thing and make guns illegal. Instead, we will continue to shoot each other at one of the highest rates in the world and call it “our right to protect ourselves.”

    “This is beyond stupid,” and our second amendment rights pose a far greater threat to American citizens than Al Qaeda will ever be.

    Gotta go. “The First 48” is on. I can watch the stupidity over and over and over and over…

  2. Bill Nance said

    So, you don’t like guns. What pray tell do you base this on? Or are you under the usual misconception that people wouldn’t kill each other if we outlawed private ownership of all firearms…like they do in Mexico….

  3. David said


    I love guns. I own guns – rifles, shotguns, handguns. But I am no longer under any misconceptions about gun ownership.

    While you and I can act responsibly with guns, too many people can’t. Consequently, we have no moral right to keep guns when that right causes so many deaths.

    People will kill each other whether they have guns or not, but those numbers can be significantly reduced by removing from society what amounts to no more than an unneeded toy. Cars may cause more deaths, but we need cars. We don’t need guns.

    The United Kingdom outlawed handguns in 1997. Their gun related deaths dropped from similar to ours to 1/100th ours. We are the laughing stock of the developed nations when it comes to gun control.

    The probability of you or your family being a victim of terrorism is damn near nil. But your average street punk with a .380 is a real threat – 1000X that of terrorism. Why? Because if you have a right to own a gun, so does he.

  4. Bill Nance said

    “While you and I can act responsibly with guns, too many people can’t. Consequently, we have no moral right to keep guns when that right causes so many deaths.”

    No moral right? you think I don’t have the moral right to defend myself against a criminal? That’s so pathetic I can hardly be bothered to respond.

    As for the rest of your specious comment, to say that you have no idea what you’re talking about would be charitable.

    The UK had a DRAMATIC increase in firearms accidents, attacks and injuries AFTER they enacted the gun confiscation laws in 1997.

    “While the number of crimes involving firearms in England and Wales increased from 13,874 in 1998/99 to 24,070 in 2002/03, they remained relatively static at 24,094 in 2003/04, and have since fallen to 21,521 in 2005/06.” Wikipedia is your friend. So are the published reports from law enforcement. ZERO of what you’re saying is borne out by the numbers. the U.S has always had a murder rate many times that of anywhere in Europe, even when there was no regulation at all on firearms there.

    If you think for one second that gun confiscation is even a remote possibility in this country, you’re smoking crack. It won’t happen and can’t happen. Absent that, the more armed citizens the less violent crime. This has been shown to be the case in the 90s when states across the union enacted sweeping reforms allowing concealed carry and there was a corresponding drop in crime rates in those states which dwarfed the gun-hostile states rates of decline at the time.

    Since you say you’re a gun owner and that you think you have no moral right to keep them, Tell ya what. I’ll take them off your hands so you can ease your conscience.

  5. David said

    “No moral right? you think I don’t have the moral right to defend myself against a criminal?”

    And of course you’ll always been in a position to pull off the first round.


  6. wadaduga said

    Wikipedia is your source of authoritative information?

    Damn! You performed the coup de grace on your own position!

    Wikipedia? Give me fifteen minutes and I’ll change the article to say what I want.

  7. Bill Nance said

    “Wikipedia is your source of authoritative information?

    Damn! You performed the coup de grace on your own position!

    Wikipedia? Give me fifteen minutes and I’ll change the article to say what I want.

    I used wiki because it’s quick and dirty. I’ve linked to the bureau of Justice Statistics so many times on this blog I’m not going to do the searching/posting of the relevant pages yet again because some idiot is too lazy to be bothered to do his own reserarch before he opens his pie-hole.

    FWIW, the wiki stats are pretty much spot on with DOJ and the British Ministry of Justice. But feel free to look up the numbers yourself.

    I’m simply not going to do someone else’s research for them every time they spout nonsense. Every table and cite listed in that wiki article can be looked up on it’s own if you are actually interested in facts, rather than pushing an agenda that flies in the face of said facts.

  8. wadaduga said

    Well, here are the numbers from the United Nations. They can also be found on the Bureau of Justice Statistics website.

    Years 1998 – 2000:

    Gun deaths USA = 0.0279/1,000 people

    Gun deaths UK = 0.00102/1,000 people

    Per capita, the USA has 27 times the gun deaths of the UK.

    Bill, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to come across as condescending, but I can see that I did.

    Nevertheless, it is common knowledge now that the higher the rate of gun ownership, the higher the per capita shootings and firearm deaths. It’s not even a arguable position anymore.

    We humans cannot control our emotions, so we shoot each other. You can defend yourself with a gun, possibly, but a ninth-grader doesn’t have that option. That’s not moral.

    • Bill Nance said

      Trying to measure gun deaths in the UK,against those in the U.S. is not remotely an apples to apples comparison.

      1. The rate of gun ownership in the US has always been larger by several orders of magnitude than the UK.

      2. Gun Deaths include suicides. I don’t recall the exact numbers, but it’s an astonishingly large percentage of all gun deaths in the U.S. A gun is a lot more efficient tool for that job. It can be argued that a gun makes a cry for help into a successful suicide, but then again it can be argued that the people using a gun meant to do what they did.

      3. The U.S. has ALWAYS had violence rates much higher than the UK.

      4. I have never EVER stated on this blog or anywhere else that more guns in a COUNTRY did not also translate into more gun deaths. No kidding. The more of these tools are out there, the more they will be used.

      Gun control in the U.S. is an utter waste of time. There are hundreds of millions of these things out there and that will not change. If you ever tried to ban all firearms/confiscate them ala the UK, you’ would have a large-scale revolt. No, I’m not kidding. There are millions of people in this country who would sooner die than be disarmed. It would also be unconstitutional on several levels, as in 2A, 5A.

      Murders in this country are NOT committed by lawfully armed citizens by and large. They are committed by criminals using guns they already cannot legally own, carry, etc.

      I’m perfectly willing to stipulate that if you magically disappeared all firearms in the country, the murder rate would go down by some percentage. but you and I boyth know that is not possible. As it is, every time you disarm a citizen, you’re just making another victim ready for the criminals who will ignore any law you pass anyway.

  9. wadaduga said


    I provided a per capita measurement, so it is apples to apples. Besides, I’m agreeing with your points 1 and 4. More guns, more deaths.

    2. Suicides are pretty consistently about half of all gun deaths. I suppose that could be called an “astonishingly large percentage.” It still means 10,000 people are victims of gun homicides. Only about 200 deaths a year are justifiable homicides, and that INCLUDES police shootings. Either way, at least 50 people die for every one saved. That’s not moral.

    3. You’re making my point for me. If we are a more violent society, we are less suited to own firearms.

    I know that the Constitution provides us the right to bear arms, but the Constitution can be changed. In fact, it is a foregone conclusion. The number of people dying by firearms will eventually alter or remove our 2nd Amendment rights. Hey, I don’t like it either! But regardless of the intent, what is actually happening is not moral.

    The USA and Finland are the only First World countries without serious gun control (both having similar per capita gun deaths). All the others have effected their moral obligations. It is just a matter of time before the USA follows suit.

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