Schwarzenegger Sides With Gun-Control Advocates

Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:23pm EDT
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( - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the Crime Gun Identification Act over the weekend, and that means gun sellers by 2010 - if there are any left in the state by that time -- will have to use "microstamping" technology on every semiautomatic pistol they sell.

The new law, AB 1471, requires information about a gun's make, model and identification number to be laser engraved onto the gun's firing pin. Theoretically, the information would transfer itself onto the bullet cartridge when the pistol is fired, allowing police to match bullet casings found at crime scenes with the gun that fired the bullet.

Gun control groups say the new law will help police solve crimes.

"We applaud Gov. Schwarzenegger for taking a bold step to solve gun murders in California," said Brady Campaign President Paul Helmke. "This ground-breaking law gives police officers a powerful tool to apprehend armed criminals and gang members before they strike again," he added.

According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Schwarzenegger "has set a new national standard for the rest of the country to follow."

But critics say the bill is back-door gun control. The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association of the firearms industry, accused Gov. Schwarzenegger of betraying law-abiding gun owners, retailers and hunters by signing the bill.

First of all the "microstamping" technology is "flawed," as indicated by multiple studies, the NSSF said in a news release.

Criminals will be able to remove the laser engraving in moments, using common household tools, the group said. And it would be easy for criminals to scatter microstamped cartridges from other guns at crime scenes to confuse police, critics say.

Some say the new law will dry up gun sales in California - and that may be the point:

"By signing the microstamping legislation, Governor Schwarzenegger chose to disregard warnings that major firearms manufacturers would be forced to abandon the California market altogether rather than bear the astronomical costs associated with reconfiguring the manufacturing and assembly processes necessary for microstamping," NSSF said.

"Governor Schwarzenegger has now effectively banned more firearms than Senators Kennedy, Feinstein and Schumer combined," said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel.

"The governor's decision to mandate this unreliable technology is clearly one of family politics, not sound public policy," said Keane, referring to Senator Ted Kennedy, the uncle of the governor's wife, who has announced plans to introduce a federal microstamping bill.

NSSF also noted that according to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, firearms used in crimes are mostly old guns -- beyond the reach of microstamping legislation.

Save the condors

In another blow to Second Amendment supporters, Gov. Schwarzenegger also signed a bill banning lead ammunition in certain hunting areas of the state.

Assembly Bill 821, backed by "anti-hunting extremists," is intended to save the California Condor from lead poisoning -- despite the fact that there is no conclusive scientific evidence that the birds are getting sick from ingesting ammunition fragments, NSSF said.

The group said Schwarzenegger was advised on the issue by Marty Wilson -- "his political adviser who entered a business relationship this year with the Audubon Society -- an anti-hunting organization fighting to ban lead ammunition."

The decision to ban lead ammunition in Condor habitat will have far-reaching implications, Keane noted.

"A study by the Responsive Management Company found that if a ban on lead ammunition were to become law, 24 percent of hunters would hunt outside the state, hunt less or stop hunting altogether. This, in turn, affects the retailers of hunting equipment, their employees and the small mom-and-pop businesses that run lodges and restaurants that hunters patronize."

NSSF said a ban on lead ammunition could cost 2,230 jobs, $15 million in state and federal income tax, $3.9 million per year in hunting license costs, $131 million a year in retail sales and $624,000 in federal excise tax money normally returned to California."

Keane called the governor's decision to sign the two gun-related bills "stunningly bad public policy decisions."

"To ban traditional ammunition without evidence [that it is harming condors] and to mandate a flawed [microstamping] technology that criminals will laugh at could very well see every major firearms manufacturer abandon the California market," he said.

"Today is a sad day for sportsmen, gun-owners, small business owners, firearms enthusiasts and indeed wildlife in the Golden State," concluded Keane.

See Earlier Stories:
Gun Control Bill Heads to California Governor (Sept. 11, 2007)
Gun 'Microstamping' Bill Passes California Senate (Aug. 25, 2006)

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