Well, its probably not the most pointless one; there’s a lot of competition out there for that award. For starters, the Australian government disarmed the majority of law abiding gun owners in the wake of the Port Arthur massacre because passing a law makes all of the bad guys hand theirs in. Every nanny stater knows that. A few years later the then Greens leader, Bob Brown called for tougher gun laws here after a shooting in Germany. Go figure.
The New York Legislature though is attempting to pass a law requiring that all guns manufactured there to be microstamped on the tip of the firing pin with the make, model, and serial number of the firearm in the belief that in future they will just have to find an ejected shell casing in order to trace the weapon used and the owner.
The downside is that it is expensive, fragile, easily countered, and only works with weapons that eject cases. Gun buyers are likely to avoid firearms manufactured in such plants owing to the possibility of being charged with crimes carried out with stolen weapons. Remington, which employs 1100 people in the state is already considering leaving owing to the state’s crippling tax regime.
Rob Owen reports on reasons why it wont work:
For starters: microstamping fails to work on any firearm that already exists, something in the neighborhood of more than 300 million firearms. As firearms last indefinitely, it would be decades before they became a significant number of total firearms — even if the technology was foolproof.
But microstamping is not foolproof. Let’s look at the ways microstamping fails, beyond the numbers:
• Microstamping does not work if shell casings aren’t automatically ejected from the crime gun. Revolvers, derringers, double-barrel shotguns, pump shotguns and rifles, and semi-automatic firearms that can be equipped with inexpensive brass catchers (common among some shooters) would leave no cartridges at the scene of a shooting.
• Microstamping does not work because firing pins are inexpensive and easy to replace. The firing pin for most weapons are easily replaced by someone with a minimum of ability to read and follow the basic cleaning directions for his firearm. The expense of millions of dollars in retooling is thwarted by the purchase of a $12 part.
• Microstamping does not work because the stamping is easily defaced. It would take a matter of a half-dozen passes of a standard diamond file, and less than a minute, to eradicate the microstamping.
• Microstamping is incredibly fragile. The stamping would wear out over time through simple use of the firearm, or be thwarted by the normal powder residue that builds up on small parts.
• Microstamping could easily be spoofed and waste police time — or worse, send the wrong people to jail. Most shooters do not reload their own ammunition, and leave their shell casings at the range. All it would take to turn microstamping to a criminal’s advantage would be for a criminal or one of his associates to pick up brass from a firing range in the same caliber as the weapon he carries. After he uses a microstamping-free weapon in a crime, he would merely drop the brass he recovered from Joe Citizen at the range at the crime scene. Joe will wake up with a SWAT team crashing through his door at 5:00 a.m., and if he’s lucky, innocent Joe won’t be gunned down along with his family pets.
Easily thwarted and capable of being used to a criminal’s advantage, microstamping is a horrible idea as well as an expensive one.
It is reminiscent of the attempts of the Queensland government to prosecute gun dealer Ron Owen who faced several court cases and the best part of a thousand charges. During one of these where he was accused of certifying guns as disabled, he proved that his method was better than that required by the government:
Ron Owen and another gun dealer, Tony Cleaver of Margate, are charged with fraudulently certifying guns they had disabled for use as replicas as "permanently inoperable". The court was told the Crown would allege an intention to modify guns in a way that would allow them to be restored to use.
Owen told the court model guns, available at camping stores, could be converted to real weapons and were potentially lethal. He produced a replica US Army weapon, purchased from a Brisbane disposal store, which he said had workable internal parts and a firing pin hole, which could be made to shoot by replacing several parts with spares.
He said guns he had made inoperable could not be restored because they had welded or missing internal parts.
The government lost every case against him, but kept on trying.