Remington Arms has already moved much of their skilled operations and management to North Carolina because of the tax policies of New York state, and now it appears to be on the verge of moving the rest of its facilities, all due to microstamping legislation:
Microstamping, or ballistic imprinting, is a patented process that uses laser technology to engrave a tiny marking of the make, model, and serial number on the tip of a gun’s firing pin to allow an imprint of that information on spent cartridge cases. Supporters of the technology say it will be a “game changer,” allowing authorities to quickly identify the registered guns used in crimes. Opponents claim the process is costly, unreliable, and may ultimately impact the local economies that heavily depend on the gun industry, including Ilion, N.Y., where Remington Arms maintains a factory, and Hartford, Conn., where Colt’s manufacturing is headquartered.
“Mandatory microstamping would have an immediate impact of a loss of 50 jobs,” New York State Sen. James Seward, a Republican whose district includes Ilion, said, adding that Remington employs 1,100 workers in the town. “You’re talking about a company that has options in other states. Why should they be in a state that’s hostile to legal gun manufacturing? There could be serious negative economic impact with the passage of microstamping and other gun-control laws.”
Microstamping tooling is extremely expensive, prone to breakage, easily disabled, and ineffective on entire families of weapons. Let’s take a deeper look at what microstamping does, and how easily it is beaten.
Microstamping is a series of letters and numbers reverse printed on the firing pin of weapons. In theory, when a gun is fired, the firing pin will leave a mark on the cartridge’s primer (the rim of a rimfire cartridge), and the shell casing recovered at the scene will provide law enforcement information about which gun fired the cartridge. Cops will enter the microstamping code into a computer, which will check it against a database, and the police will know who the shooter is within minutes.
At least, that is the theory. Reality is another matter. 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.
Remington and Colt are right to threaten to leave New York and Connecticut if ignorant Democratic politicians push forward with their demands for microstamping legislation. As for Colt and Remington, I’d merely offer that North Carolina is a much more gun-friendly and intelligent state, and they would be more than welcome to relocate here.