Bill would bring California handgun restrictions to North Carolina

A measure proposed by state House Democrats last week would severely limit the models of pistols allowed to circulate in the Tar Heel State.

The bill, HB 1060, was filed last Thursday by Orange County Democrat Verla Insko and would require the North Carolina Department of Public Safety to first develop a safe handgun roster, then ban sale or possession of any pistol not included on the list. Insko and the bill’s seven co-sponsors argue there is a lack of federal design and safety standards on pistols and that California’s controversial roster of Handguns Certified for Sale should be a starting point for North Carolina to work with.

Established by California’s Unsafe Handgun Act, that state’s roster of handguns that meet the state’s expansive safety requirements was established in 2001 and is getting gradually smaller. Under state law, new semi-automatic firearms sold in California must have the capability to permanently stamp shell casings fired through the gun with an identifying mark. The concept, known as microstamping, creates a serialized shell casing that could be traced back to the gun that fired it. However, this technology is not in a current production handgun and as a result, California’s roster is contracting and is increasingly limited to legacy models.

In 2008, the number of guns on the roster stood at over 1,400. Today it is half that amount. For instance, no Generation 4 or 5 Glocks handguns have been approved for sale in California. Handgun giant Ruger has only one semi-auto pistol, a .380, listed that is approved.

Further, while it is legal to buy and sell so-called off-roster pistols to a degree in California, Insko’s proposed legislation ups the ante on gun control as it bans possession of guns not listed on the proposed North Carolina version and has no provision for grandfathering. Those with newly prohibited handguns would have two options as outlined by the proposal: sell or transfer the gun to a licensed dealer or the local sheriff.

Insko’s bill has been referred to the House Rules Committee. California’s microstamping law and its corresponding handgun roster have been the subject of an ongoing legal challenge from gun industry groups since 2014.

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