Imagine yourself CEO of Ford Motor Company; you start getting reports from the field that each time your new Taurus Sedan brakes hard while making a sharp right hand turn the driver’s side air bag deploys, and on four occasions so far, has gone on to cause an accident.
As a responsible business manager your first action is to launch an investigation to determine the cause of the anomaly and correct it. The investigation reveals that a plastic bracket, through which a hydraulic line passes, is flexed each time brakes are applied strenuously. Coincidentally, when making hard right hand turns, the bulkhead which the bracket is mounted to also flexes straining an electrical connector (also mounted to the plastic bracket) just so to cause an odd electrical impulse that activates the airbag circuit. The fix is simple enough as the electrical connection can be rerouted away from the flexing plastic bracket.
While the fix is simple enough, executing it is not because the government has a law demanding that any change performed to your product for any reason requires submission of that product to an independent test lab to verify safety of the product. Never mind that the Taurus Sedan had already been submitted for testing, at a hefty fee, and passed all tests without the test lab ever finding the peculiar air bag phenomenon.
As CEO, and the individual party to be held criminally for evading any law, you are made each year to pay a $200.00 fee and sign a paper which says, “Under penalty of perjury…blah, blah, blah…I affirm that there have been no changes to this product.” This is the requirement demanded by the government to keep your product on the “Not Unsafe Automobile Roster” allowing you to sell it in the United States.
Now it is perfectly O.K. to keep manufacturing your product as is, even if it gets people killed, and not make the modification to avoid the criminal penalty for making a “change”, but you will undoubtedly be held responsible by a long line of class action attorneys looking to make a “killing” off all your hard work once enough people are injured or killed by the air bag anomaly.
This is what it is like to manufacture pistols in California.
The quick answer to eliminate this quandary is to move from California, but that is easier said than done. Most businesses have legacy constraints which keep them in their locale for specific reasons, and even if these constraints can be lifted there are still the monetary concerns which make it difficult for a business to move.
Resigned to staying put, you find yourself contemplating the meaning of the word “change”.
If Bill Clinton can successfully reinterpret the word “is” it is not unreasonable to become confused about a big word like “change”.
What compromises a “change”?
Concerning firearms, and as CEO forced each year to sign that form “Under penalty of perjury…” understanding the meaning of “change” becomes more than a simple semantic exercise. A clearly concise understanding of “change” could make the difference between spending time in or out of jail. Let’s ruminate over some “changes” you might encounter in the manufacture of pistols.
Color: If you’re making black pistol frames and it turns out women like pink ones, are you engaged in creating a product “change” if you mold pink frames while maintaining identically every other mechanical detail of your product?
According to California, you have.
Recoil spring: Suppose you find a modest number of customers have experienced stove pipe extraction problems when operating your pistol. Testing reveals the problem non-existent until you fire the piece with a very weak grip where you reliably duplicate the problem. Lightening up the recoil spring eliminates the issue.
Is this a change?
How about if you just put an extra recoil spring in the box with the gun when you ship it?
Is this a change?
Most polymer frame handguns have steel rails molded into the frame upon which the slide rides. There is usually a front steel guide rail and a rear steel guide rail. When the first FMK 9C1 Handgun pistols were shipped they included only a front steel rail. None failed yet enough customers complained to encourage inclusion of the rear steel rail.
Is this a change?
Imagine heat treating pistol barrels to 35 RC as required by your design, but receive them from your vendor and 40 RC or 20 RC. Are these changes? Do you incur the expense of annealing them and treating them again? More importantly, should the decision be driven by good manufacturing practices or driven in an attempt to meet some capricious bureaucratic demand?
Is it a change to tumble a steel component that had previously not been tumbled?
This list of scenarios could continue into more and more esoteric territory, and you would find the definition of “change” much more difficult to explain than might be imagined. These mental agitations might be necessary for someone engaged in the business of building pistols, but for the average American, or average gun owner, they could seem absurd.
They are absurd only until we understand the regulations which are marketed as “for our own good”, are designed to make guns more expensive to produce and more difficult to procure, and they are a frontal assault on our American Freedoms.
Our politicians brag that through regulations they have implemented all pistols with a magazine disconnect safety and a chamber loaded indicator because some stupid kid shot his friend joking around not knowing the gun was loaded. Anyone experienced in handling arms knows those safety devices will not reduce the accidental shooting of one person if the perpetrator is so dumb as to ignore the most fundamental rules of safe gun handling:
Never point a gun at something you don’t intend to shoot!
Always treat a gun as if it is loaded!
How many regulations at the national level are marketed “for our own good” yet only empower politicians and impinge on our freedoms?
As for California’s Roster of “Not Unsafe Handguns”, its implementation has little to do with safe or unsafe arms and a lot to do with bureaucracy’s attempt to keep from you through regulatory means what politicians could not accomplish through legislative ones.
Should you care? It’s only California.
Some states, and many in the federal government have promoted the idea of adopting California’s regulations concerning all pistols in the nation. Care now?
Welcome to the Golden State.