Smith and Wesson to stop selling semi-automatic handguns in California

A gun store attendant places a US-made S


A gun store attendant places a US-made Smith and Wesson MP40 handgun into its cradle during the first day of an annual defense and sporting arms show in a commercial center in Manila on July 17, 2008. The company said on Thursday that it will stop selling its semi-automatic pistols in California rather than comply with a new gun control law there.

Firearm maker Smith & Wesson announced Thursday that unless California changes its position on a new gun control law, the company will no longer sell many of its semi-automatic pistols in the state.

Assembly Bill 1471, which passed in 2007 but didn't go into effect until last year, requires manufacturers to include a feature called "microstamping" on new semi-automatic handguns. Microstamping involves etching a code identifying the make, model, and serial number of the pistol on bullet casings whenever the weapon is fired.

"Smith & Wesson does not and will not include microstamping in its firearms," the company stated in a release posted online. "A number of studies have indicated that microstamping is unreliable, serves no safety purpose, is cost prohibitive and, most importantly, is not proven to aid in preventing or solving crimes."

Under the new law, firearms that were already approved for sale on a state roster could continue to be sold. However, as Smith & Wesson notes, even a fairly cosmetic change would require a gun to be re-tested, so unless the company added the microstamping feature, it would fail under the new rules.

In its statement, the company said that all but one of its semi-automatic M&P handguns would eventually fall off the state's roster and no longer be available in California, and it pledged to work with the National Rifle Association to continue opposing the law.

We'll be updating this story as we learn more.

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