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Exporting Oppression - The California Petri Dish Effect

By cdmichel | Published January 31, 2014

Chicago is one of the few places in America so un-American that politicians there actually banned the possession of handguns; that is, until the courts threw out that law, along with tossing a citywide ban on shooting ranges and gun stores, and invalidating a state law banning carrying guns in public. Now Chicago politicians are scrambling to adopt the next most-oppressive thing.

Given Chicago politicians' notorious history and liberal extremism, who would have thought they would look to California for inspiration on how to limit the right to choose to own a gun for sport or to defend your family? But the Chicago Tribune reports that this is exactly what's happening. The Tribune story details how Chicago Mayor and former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel are looking westward for ideas on how to prevent good Chicagoans from having guns.

"If recent history is any guide, the [Chicago] mayor will try to craft as restrictive an ordinance as possible," the Tribune notes, while also reporting that Emanuel "could look to California to see how far he can go in setting strict standards." This may include trying to ban handguns through the backdoor, now that the courts have largely closed the front door.

It's no wonder, because that's been the California strategy ever since 1982, when a state referendum to ban handguns went down in flames. California has always been the national petri dish for ill-conceived gun control laws. And as California's hundreds of byzantine gun laws demonstrate, anti-gun owner cities try to red-tape gun rights-to death. It's a game politicians and their lawyers play. First they demonize and ban "Saturday Night Specials." But since that's only one subset of hand guns, they call it a "common sense" "regulation" not a "ban." Then they next "regulate" whatever they demonize and define as a "Friday Night Special." Then a "Thursday Night Special," and so on. By the end of the week, there's nothing left. But it's not a "ban," it's just "reasonable" "regulations." Right.

Chicago's Mayor Emanuel has a lot to pick from out of the California gun control catalogue. The California catalogue includes many new restrictions for 2014, covering everything from ammo to armaments. It's a thick book that grows thicker thanks to loathsome laws often crafted by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence (LCAGV). These San Francisco lawyers wear the tasseled loafers that stand on the necks of law abiding gun owners.

Almost a dozen years ago the head of Handgun Control, Incorporated (HCI) (now the Brady Center) in California announced that his group had just about achieved its legislature wish list. HCI didn't have much more to ask for. But he didn't count on the creativity of clever lawyers getting multi-million dollar grants from liberal foundations. These LCAGV lawyers, and the new leaders of HCI, have since come up with hundreds more gun restrictions, all cleverly promoted as "common sense" or "smart" gun laws (thanks to advice from their PR firms' spin manual). When a law fails to deliver as promised (as the NRA always predicts, but gets ridiculed for predicting) they blame the failure on the law being too weak. So they try to make the laws more restrictive. The process repeats itself. We're just "regulating." More. And more. And more.

Granted, Chicago might not be able to successfully defend some California-style laws in court, such as California's newly enforced "microstamping" law that is causing hundreds of semi-automatic pistols to become unsellable in California. But Chicago will likely enact them anyway. Hey, its not their money going to the lawyers. It's the taxpayer's money. Or Michael Bloomberg's.

So Chicago could declare that certain types of "unsafe" guns are not allowed within city limits, turning everyone without costly, new and, in reality inoperable, guns into criminals. With gun makers unwilling to make certain types of guns, the supply of "legal" guns would grow scarce. Presto: a gun ban, er, "regulation," without actually enacting one.

Such a defacto gun ban is already working in the Shaky State, where the LCAGV and Brady Center successfully helped promote microstamping legislation. Proponents of the microstamping bill falsely claimed that the additional cost of microstamping "would be $0.50 to $2 a gun." But while the actual microscopic etching process may itself be cheap, the real cost of incorporating microstamping into the planning, procurement, logistics, and warehousing aspects of the manufacturing process is not. It will cost millions, and add roughly $200 to the cost of a gun.

Then there's the elephant in the room: the microstamping process itself doesn't work, and can be defeated with merely a nail file. Peer-reviewed studies from U.C. Davis, the National Academy of Success, and the esteemed Association of Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners conclude the process is not ready for prime-time. Even the developers of the microstamping technology has acknowledged in a 2012 study that the concept of microstamping requires further study and should not be mandated. A summary of the studies can be found at

Recently Smith & Wesson and Ruger announced that it will stop selling semi-auto pistols in California because these pistols must include microstamping technology. "Smith & Wesson does not and will not include microstamping in its firearms," the company publicly stated. Ruger chimed in, saying "until microstamping is repealed, we expect that Ruger pistols - some of the safest available - will continue to be forced off the roster [of guns approved for sale]." This is true ... to a point. These semi-auto pistols will still be sold - without microstamping - in California, but only to police. Which begs the question, why would police need to be exempted... Maybe that's a question best left for L.A. and Oakland?

These two manufacturers will soon be joined by many others as more pistols come up for a renewed listing on the roster of pistols that can be sold in California. Without microstamping, these guns won't be renewed. And no manufacturer that we know of is willing to spend millions to incorporate a pointless and useless micro-stamping process into their manufacturing system.

Rahm Emanuel must be salivating.

Burning embers that glow in California have a nasty habit of blowing eastward. Gun owners across the country should take an active interest in California politics. Donate time, money and manpower. Because unchecked, the Golden State will give you the shaft. California's shrewd "regulations" are gun bans with a mustache. And they are coming soon to a neighborhood near you.