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California DOJ asked how ‘smart gun’ without microstamping made ‘safe’ roster

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The Washington Post wrongly reported a Southern California shooting facility was pioneering the sale of so-called “smart guns,” a representative of Oak Tree Gun Club told Gun Rights Examiner Wednesday. That story included a quote from owner James Mitchell and reported his was “the only outlet in the country selling the [Armatix] iP1” personalized gun.

“Our facility does NOT carry the Armatix pistol, never has, and this comment was taken out of context in an interview conducted by the Washington Post,” Betsy Mitchell responded to this column’s inquiry about the February 17 story. “James Mitchell is the owner of Oak Tree Gun Club, which provides range services.

“The licensed firearms dealer on-site is not James Mitchell, and the FFL Dealer on-site has not ever merchandised or sold this firearm and does not intend to carry this firearm,” Ms. Mitchell elaborated. “I am very sorry for the confusion created by this article.”

That will be good news for gun owners concerned that the popular Southern California shooting facility would be providing a beachhead for those trying to make “smart guns” mandatory through state and federal laws. Oak Tree’s unequivocal disavowal should help quell knee-jerk anger expressed by those condemning them before taking a moment to just contact them and ask if the report is true.

Still, of three groups this column sent inquiries to, Oak Tree was the only one to respond, and asking about their reported involvement was just one reason Gun Rights Examiner was investigating this story, and not even the main one.

This column was investigating a concern expressed by an industry professional advising the Armatix entry on California’s Roster of Handguns Certified for Sale indicates it had been placed on the roster in October 2013, several months after the state issued a certification that microstamping was now required per state code.

“Therefore, to be listed on the Roster ... a semiautomatic pistol must be equipped with microstamping technology,” the May 17, 2013 certification signed by Bureau of Firearms Chief Stephen J. Lindley for Attorney General Kamala D. Harris declared.

The inclusion of the Armatix handgun on the roster “means that it ‘should’ have microstamping, but it doesn't to my knowledge have that feature,” the industry source explained. “So the question that needs to be asked is how did the gun get on the roster on October 24th of 2013? Could it be because it somehow follows the narrative that the AG's office is pushing?”

A cursory review of the Armatix iP1 features page appears to bear his concerns out.

Our specialists have equipped the iP1 Pistol with innovative features:

  • .22 LR calibre, 10 round magazine
  • electronic magazine disconnect
  • different operating modes
  • an operating distance of up to 10 inches
  • integrated grip and drop safety
  • color-coded operating mode, patented mechatronic
    interface for additional applications (e.g. camera)
  • tested and approved by ATF

Seeing no mention of microstamping, this column sent the company an email yesterday to the address provided on its contact page.

“The ‘features’ page for the iP1 does not indicate if it incorporates microstamping. Does it?” they were asked. “If not, will it, and when?"

An inquiry was also made to the California Department of Justice Bureau of Firearms via their website contact form.

“What date did this firearm first appear on the roster?” they were asked. “Its current listing says it expires on Oct 24, 2014. Does this firearm incorporate microstamping?

“If not, what CA Code section and/or approved protocol/rule was used to authorize it to be listed after the May 17, 2013 certification from DOJ proclaiming the requirement had become effective?” a final question asked.

The decision was made to ask via correspondence, along with the disclosure that it was for a report to be made public, as opposed to with a phone call, in order to ensure absolute accuracy of copied responses with no possibility of misinterpreting or taking verbal answers out of context. At this writing, neither Armatix nor the DOJ have responded to the inquiries.

As a last bit of investigation, a second industry source did some checking on behalf of this column and reported his findings, which largely corroborate this report:

“I talked to some people, the people reported to be the retailer and a guy in Germany -- did not understand his name,” the source reported. “Here's what I learned. The pistol got California DOJ approved in the 11th hour -- before the microstamping requirement clamped down. And ... there is no microstamping in the pistol at this time.

“Also -- the retailer that was reported -- they are a gun dealer, but they are not retailing this pistol,” the source continued. “The company went to their range facility and did some shooting demos there -- but they are not going to be dealing this gun as they do not want the CONTROVERSY surrounding the piece. Also -- the poor individual I talked to has been fielding hundreds of inquiries a day since that news report came out.

“No one in the pistol's product engineering could speak to the microstamping -- there was a language issue there,” he explained.

What needs to be determined at this point is the date CA DOJ approved the Armatix iP1, and why it is listed on the roster with an October 2014 renewal date, which would indicate it was initially placed on the approved list one year earlier, well after microstamping was certified as a requirement. Perhaps it had been submitted for testing before the May 17 edict and was in the pipeline to allow its approval, and if that’s the case, it should be a simple matter for DOJ to explain the rule authorizing that, and a public service for them to publicize it and help clear up some of the speculations being made on some California-centered gun boards.

If and when further clarifying information becomes available, this column will report it.

UPDATE: Modern Arms corroborates the Armatix model was added to the roster in October 2013.

UPDATE: Per ATF, Armitix is listed as an FFL at the same address as Oak Tree. There is a discussion about this at Ms. Mitchell has been asked to comment on this information, and Oak Tree's reply will be posted when received.

UPDATE (Feb. 28): Betsy Mitchell (James) responded to my request for additional comment:

No problem.

There are 2 FFL Licenses at the facility, under California Gun Girls, LLC - one is for retail firearm sales (01 - dealer in firearm sales other than destructive devices), the other is for reloading (06 - manufacturer of ammunition for firearms). These licenses are my licenses. I run the commercial reloading operation and retail firearm sales at the facility.

The other FFL was obtained by Armatix, and it is an import FFL. The Armatix "technology" that James Mitchell was referring to is a Range System, which utilized sensors placed down-range, to establish safe shooting angles. Because Oak Tree is a large training facility, this was something that was considered. We would not import the "technology" so they obtained an import FFL for this purpose. There was never any agreement to purchase the range system.

I hope this information helps explain this situation.


Betsy James

California Gun Girls, LLC


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Despite all those blood-curdling screams coming from those haunting the halls of politics, the true chilling threat is to our rights. My latest GUNS Magazine "Rights Watch" column is online, and you can read it well before the issue hits the stands. Click here to read "Ghost Guns.”



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