.22 rimfire round from a Ruger MkII showing microstamp. Image: microstamping blog.

The New York Daily News is  reporting that Remington (which is the flagship of the Freedom Group, including Marlin, Bushmaster, and many other brands) is threatening to shutter its plant in Ilion, New York, a plant considered the oldest continuously operated weapons factory in the Western Hemisphere.

Occasion for the threat: a bill requiring all newly produced weapons to incorporate proprietary “microstamping” technology. In theory, microstamping leaves a mark on every cartridge case which positively identifies the exact weapon that fired it. (A moribund blog by the microstamping promoters hasn’t been updated since 2008). It’s an extension of the forensic pseudoscience of “ballistics.”

Critics of the bill point out that, even if weapons serial numbers somehow identified criminal users of those weapons, microstamping does not do what it says it does. Stephen P. Jackson, Jr., the Remington official who warned Cuomo of the company’s conditional intent to exit New York and idle the 1,100 workers in Ilion, offered a précis of those arguments in his letter.

Three independent studies to examine the sole-sourced concept of firearms microstamping have concluded that the would-be technology should not be mandated.

Results obtained by researchers at the University of California at Davis and the National Academy of Sciences echo those of an earlier independent, peer-reviewed study published by New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice Professor George Krivosta. Professor Krivosta conclusively established that microstamping technology is unreliable, does not function as the patent holder claims and can be easily defeated in seconds using common household tools.

Mandating Firearms microstamping will restrict the ability of Remington to expand business in the Empire State. Worse yet, Remington could be forced to reconsider its commitment to the New York market altogether rather than spend the astronomical sums of money needed to completely reconfigure our manufacturing and assembly processes. This would directly impact law enforcement, firearms retailers and consumers throughout New York- if not the entire country.

Jackson’s letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo is posted at the Daily Caller. At this writing, there was still no press release from Remington on the subject.

In addition to the technical problems Jackson describes, microstamping technology — assuming for the sake of argument that it actually did work — is trivially defeated by criminal users, requires police labs to invest in costly electron microscopes (just to see that gangbangers have defeated the microstamp with a $30 Dremel tool), and requires a royalty agreement with the inventors, reportedly Bloomberg cronies.

That last may explain the whole thing.

Hat tip: Dan Zimmerman at TTAG, (Hey, Dan-o, what’s up with cousin George?)

Update: While the Daily News said that passsage of the microstamping language was unlikely, Robert Farago at TTAG reports that it has indeed been taken out. Those 1,100 jobs are safe — for now.

This entry was posted in Industry on by Hognose.

About Hognose

Former Special Forces 11B2S, later 18B, weapons man. (Also served in intelligence and operations jobs in SF).