The California legislature has passed a bill requiring that the next generation of semiautomatic handguns stamp identifying serial numbers on spent shell casings, reports Copley News Service. Backers say the legislation would establish the first law of its kind in the nation could have a lasting impact on the war on crime. The limited application of the bill does not figure to be felt for several years.
The bill covers only new models or brands of semiautomatic handguns approved for sale in the state after Jan. 1, 2010. That excludes nearly 1,300 different semiautomatics already sold in the state. Revolvers, which do not discharge shell casings, also not covered. Supporters said tagging microscopic codes on ammunition fired from the guns of choice for gang members and violent criminals could prove invaluable to law enforcement. Critics dismissed the technology as unreliable, expensive, and easily thwarted. They warned that it would drive up the price of guns and drive manufacturers out of the state. “There is nothing like this is any other state, and no other state is seriously considering this because they know it doesn’t work,” said Lawrence Keane, general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Council, an industry trade association. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has taken no position on the bill. Gun-control backers have been pushing the concept, known as microstamping, as an alternative to ballistic imaging, a more complex system that relies on individual markings on bullets.