Prior to Governor Schwarzenegger signing AB1471 a University of California-Davis study concluded that the technology “did not work well for all guns and ammunition tested” and that “more testing in a wider range of firearms is needed to determine the costs and feasibility” of the program. But more importantly its biggest and most obvious downside, study researcher Michael Beddow went on to state, is the technology can be easily defeated with common household tools. Despite these damning conclusions AB1471 was propelled into law.

The Brady Campaign, in its continuing push for “sensible gun laws” claims this as a victory for law enforcement in combating gun crime. Paul Helmke, Brady Campaign president, even goes as far to say, “giving police more tools like this to do their jobs is the common-sense thing to do.” Never mind that if a revolver is used there is no ejected shell casing. (The Department of Justice gun crime report states that of all gun crimes 51.5 percent were perpetrated with revolvers.) Never mind that if the weapon were manufactured prior to 2010 there would be no markings. (Illegal firearms are kept on the black market for as long as they are functional.) And, most importantly perhaps, weapons used in crimes are for the most part stolen so the trail would end at the original (and lawful) owner.

But the powers that are trying to put this technology in play are not interested in crime—this is about control.

—Derek A. Reeves