Gun microstamping could close American factories

posted at 5:31 pm on October 6, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

I understand that gun owners’ rights and the Second Amendment haven’t really been a touchstone in this year’s elections, but that doesn’t mean that the battle isn’t still being waged. One story out this month hits pretty close to home for me, both figuratively and literally. It involves the Remington Arms plant located in Ilion, a village in upstate New York. They are currently battling a pending move by the state government which would force them to put laser etched microstamps on the firing pins of all their weapons, driving costs through the roof.

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.”

I grew up within bicycling distance of the Remington Arms plant, and nearly every one of our neighbors either had a family member who worked there or knew people who did. It was the central industry of the area, and while diminished in size over the years, is still a primary force in providing jobs. They also have a long, proud tradition of producing some of the finest hunting hardware in the nation for well over a century.

This microstamping, while perhaps well intentioned from a law enforcement perspective, is a business disaster in the making for little or no return on the investment. Bob Owens explains.

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.

Bob has plenty more at the link and a wealth of experience with guns and second amendment issues to back it up. Rules like these, forced through by excitable gun opponents without considering the law of unintended consequences, can and will result in more factories closing down and moving to more business friendly climes. While some may look at this as the natural evolution of business in the free market, it still affects many, many families and entire communities. On top of that, Remington isn’t just another manufacturer of another widget. They are an icon of American history and part of the fabric of New York dating back to the 1800s. Gun violence is of concern to many people without question, but this isn’t an answer to anything.


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