Skip to main content

NSSF: Microstamping Another Gun-Control Scheme

Op/Ed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation on the unproven and unworkable 'gun-safety' technology.

NSSF: Microstamping Another Gun-Control Scheme

Photo courtesy of National Shooting Sports Foundation

Microstamping has reared up as gun-control schemers elevate it as a sophisticated means of "gun safety," a sly euphemism for gun control. Proponents of the unworkable, unreliable and ineffective concept keep their heads in the sand regarding the feasibility of microstamping mandates because they can’t face the truth. It doesn’t work.

Boondoggle Backstory

Microstamping is unproven and unworkable technology, using a laser to imprint a shallow unique identifying code on a handgun’s firing pin, transferring the mark to a spent cartridge casing once it has fired. Gun-control politicians push the "technology" to "reduce gun violence.”

In their minds, microstamping connects the dots on crime, a criminally misused firearm and the criminal. Except that’s not realistic and forcing gun manufacturers to implement microstamping on new guns, or retrofit existing firearms, only limits lawful firearm ownership.

Todd Lizotte, who holds the patent for the sole-source microstamping technology, recognized this reality in a peer reviewed study.

"Legitimate questions exist related to both the technical aspects, production costs, and database management associated with microstamping that should be addressed before wide scale implementation is legislatively mandated."

Third-party researchers agree. Forensic firearms examiner Professor George Kristova wrote, "Implementing this technology will be much more complicated than burning a serial number on a few parts and dropping them into firearms being manufactured." The University of California at Davis, hardly a gun-rights redoubt, reported, "At the current time it is not recommended that a mandate for implementation of this technology be made."

A National Academy of Science study concluded that "the durability and survivability of markings on the bullet are still major concerns. Bullets would also be likely to suffer the corrosive effects of blood and other substances." An Iowa State University study stated that "legitimate questions exist related to the technical aspects, production costs and database management associated with microstamping that should be addressed before wide scale implementation is legislatively mandated."

That bottom line is microstamping doesn’t work. Lizotte himself agreed that alphanumeric codes are often illegible under even perfect conditions. Electron microscopes couldn’t detect legible codes in testing. Even under perfect conditions, it would take at least 10 spent cartridges make an "educated guess" to piece together a legible code. More practically, this technology can easily be defeated with sandpaper or a nail file as the microstamping mark is only 25 microns (half the diameter of a human hair). Criminals already obliterate serial numbers etched into a firearm frame.

Little Digits, Big Problems

California ignored these impossibilities and passed a dual-placement microstamping mandate in 2007, despite the firearm industry testifying the technology doesn’t work. Then-California Attorney General and now Vice President Kamala Harris certified the law in 2013, along with California’s Roster of Handguns Certified for Sale. Since then, firearm manufactures have introduced no new handguns to California.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 2847 into law in 2020, reducing the microstamping requirement to a single place, but speeding up the number of handguns falling off the list of those approved for sale in California. For every new handgun added to California’s Roster of Handguns Certified for Sale, three older models must be removed. When the initial microstamping law took effect, there were 953 pistols on the roster. As of November 2020, there are only 497, as any modification to a model even to improve the safety and reliability of a handgun constitutes a new model requiring microstamping.


California Dreaming

California is the only state to enact microstamping, but other states are considering it. Connecticut tried once before in 2009 but the bill was defeated. Democratic state Rep. Jillian Gilchrist introduced HB 5584, trying to require the impossible technology in her state again this year.

California’s considering going back to dual-placement requirements, which it just rolled back a year ago. Democratic Assemblyman David Chiu, who wrote the single-placement law, introduced a bill just weeks ago to up the requirement back to two places on a cartridge. It’s still unworkable and the requirement to speed up the removal of handguns off the roster remains. It was never about solving crime. It has always been about eliminating handguns.

On the federal level, microstamping legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2008 by then-Congressman Xavier Beccera (D-Calif.), who became California’s attorney general after Vice President Harris won election to the Senate. Becerra is now President Joe Biden’s Health and Human Services Secretary nominee awaiting U.S. Senate approval. He would join an administration itching to throw roadblocks in front of the firearm industry and deprive law-abiding Americans the ability to exercise their Second Amendment rights.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

Sometimes you have to fish a bait that allows you to cover a lot of water efficiently. When you're on the search for bass that have moved into deeper water off the bank and away from obvious holding spots, a swimbait can locate them.

On the Search with Swimbaits

One of the best imitations of a wounded baitfish is the soft-plastic jerkbait, or fluke. A fluke darting just beneath the surface can be too much for a bass to resist. Rig it and fish it according to water conditions and cover to make this great bait even more effective.

Fun with Flukes

There are three models in SPRO's Outsider crankbait series: 55 (runs 3-4 feet), 60 (7-9) and 80 (19-21). Professional bass angler Jonathan Kelley goes over the specifics at ICAST 2022 in Orlando.

SPRO's New Outsider Crankbait Series: First Look

Professional bass angler Jonathan Kelley highlights the features of SPRO's new lures at ICAST 2022 in Orlando.

New Essential Series Spinnerbaits and Buzzbaits from SPRO

Syd Ribes with Sea Falcon highlights four new lures for saltwater fishing. At ICAST 2022 in Orlando.

New Lineup of Lures from Sea Falcon

Syd Ribes highlights two new saltwater lures from SPRO: Flutter Tail Shrimp and Cannon Ball Jig. At ICAST 2022 in Orlando.

New Saltwater Lures from SPRO

AFTCO's Matt Florentino highlights the features of the new Barricade cold-weather suit, a Best of Category winner at ICAST 2022 in Orlando. With Game & Fish's Adam Heggenstaller.

New from AFTCO: Barricade Cold Weather Tactical Gear

Three-time ICAST Best of Category winner Bubba covers it all with new knives set. With Bubba's Matt Kinamore and Game & Fish's  Adam Heggenstaller at ICAST 2022 in Orlando.

4-in-1 Bubba Multi Flex Cutlery Kit

The innovative landing net will weigh and measure your catch while it's still in the net. Best of Category winner at ICAST 2022. With Game & Fish's Adam Heggenstaller.

Award-Winning Frabill Witness Net 'Keeps You Honest'

Game & Fish Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Game & Fish stories delivered right to your inbox every week.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now