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Firearms manufacturer Smith & Wesson will no longer ship new semi-automatic pistols to California, preferring to turn away from the nation's most populous market rather than comply with a controversial new gun law.

The publicly-traded company posted the announcement on its website in reaction to the state implementing Assembly Bill 1471, which requires new or redesigned semi-automatic pistols have a "microstamping" feature that indelibly marks bullet casings with a unique code when a gun is fired.

The law doesn't apply to weapons purchased by law enforcement agencies.

"Smith & Wesson does not and will not include microstamping in its firearms," the company said in a press release dated today. "A number of studies have indicated that microstamping is unreliable, serves no safety purpose, is cost prohibitive and, most importantly, is not proven to aid in preventing or solving crimes."

Firearms companies and gun-rights advocates say the technology doesn't work. Earlier this month, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a firearms manufacturers' trade group, sued the state for requiring microstamping for all new semi-automatic handguns.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed AB 1471 six years ago, but it didn't go into effect until May 2013. The American Academy of Pediatrics, dozens of police chiefs supported it. Gun owners, manufacturers and 14 sheriffs opposed it.

At least one Smith & Wesson semi-automatic pistol has fallen off the state's list of firearms approved for sale, and more will follow, said James Debney, Smith & Wesson president and CEO.

He vowed to to "work with" the National Rifle Association and shooting sports foundation "to oppose this poorly conceived law which mandates the unproven and unreliable concept of microstamping and makes it impossible for Californians to have access to the best products with the latest innovations."

Editor's note, 3:04 p.m.: The post was amended to include AB 1417's exemption for law enforcement agencies.

PHOTO: California Highway Patrol Range Officer, J. Tomlinson demonstrates the CHP's new gun at the CHP Academy Range in West Sacramento on Tuesday May 16, 2006. The new gun is a Smith and Wesson .40 caliber TSW. The Sacramento Bee/ Randall Benton


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