Smith & Wesson to phase away some future pistol models in California

SACRAMENTO, California Thu Jan 23, 2014 6:14pm EST

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SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) - Gunmaker Smith & Wesson will decline to sell new versions of some of its semi-automatic pistols in California rather than comply with new safety requirements that kick in when the weapons are substantially upgraded or modified, the company said on Thursday.

A California law passed seven years ago and put into effect last May requires gun manufacturers to submit for testing all semi-automatic handguns that have been substantially changed since they were previously on the market in the most populous U.S. state.

Each pistol must also be stamped with microscopic characters that identify its make, model, and serial number - a step Massachusetts-based Smith & Wesson said it will not take. The law does not apply to guns sold for military or law enforcement use.

Starting next August, updated models of several semi-automatic pistols in Smith & Wesson's M&P line will not be sold to civilians in the state, the company said, although two new pistols in the line, the M&P Shield and the SDVE, will remain available. Revolvers are not affected by the law, the company said.

Elizabeth Sharp, vice president for investor relations at Smith & Wesson, said in an email to Reuters that other firearms makers were also expected to allow products covered under the law to fade out of the market in California as they are upgraded or modified.

Sharp would not release any figures indicating how popular the affected pistols are, or how many are in circulation.

Smith & Wesson president James Dobney said the microstamping requirement, signed by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2007, was "poorly conceived."

Microstamping a gun, meant to make it easier for law enforcement investigators to track down shooters in criminal cases, was unproven and unreliable "and makes it impossible for Californians to have access to the best products with the latest innovations," Dobney said.

Gun rights organizations including the National Rifle Association oppose the law, and the firearms industry trade group, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, is suing to have it overturned.

California has some of the toughest gun control laws in the nation. Last year, the state passed legislation aimed at furthering tightening its firearm regulations, including a ban on so-called conversion kits used to change standard firearms into semi-automatics capable of firing more than 10 rounds of ammunition without reloading.

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Bernard Orr)

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Comments (4)
Big2Tex wrote:
Bring the new designs to Texas, we will buy them and promise only to use them on carefully selected targets. hehehehehe

Jan 23, 2014 8:03pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Evo1 wrote:
“rather than comply with new safety requirements”

They’re not safety requirements. California has created a requirement that new guns have a nonexistent and worthless “technology”, for no other reason than to make it impossible for gun manufacturers to sell their products. Calling it a “safety requirement” is just political cover for trying to ban guns.

Jan 23, 2014 8:25pm EST  --  Report as abuse
vinoflyer wrote:
There’s no “safety” component to this law. Rather it’s an effort to disarm law abiding citizens.

The vast percentage of gun crimes are committed by persons for whom possessing a firearm is illegal and who are carrying the weapon as an illegal concealed weapon.

Even Harvard University has concluded that gun control does not work. The inconvenient truth, which escapes the press, is that a very small percent of the population commits the vast majority of all gun related crimes. Rather than approach the issue of the shooter the politicians prefer to use the issue as a vehicle to disarm the public. When seconds count the police are only minutes away. With many California cities struggling with large budget deficits and court ordered release of tens of thousands of dangerous criminals law abiding citizens have a choice, defend themselves or be victims.

It’s ironic that in California the Democrats in Sacramento and Los Angeles give hundreds of millions in subsidies to filmmakers to produce films extolling drugs and violence while at the same time reducing police protection for the citizens.

Jan 24, 2014 12:16am EST  --  Report as abuse
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California state worker Albert Jagow (L) goes over his retirement options with Calpers Retirement Program Specialist JeanAnn Kirkpatrick at the Calpers regional office in Sacramento, California October 21, 2009. Calpers, the largest U.S. public pension fund, manages retirement benefits for more than 1.6 million people, with assets comparable in value to the entire GDP of Israel. The Calpers investment portfolio had a historic drop in value, going from a peak of $250 billion in the fall of 2007 to $167 billion in March 2009, a loss of about a third during that period. It is now around $200 billion. REUTERS/Max Whittaker   (UNITED STATES) - RTXPWOZ

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