[Ed. – …wait for it…]
California passed a law a decade ago that demanded gun manufacturers implement microstamping technology that would imprint identifying information on bullets as they were shot from semi-automatic weapons. Gun manufacturers say the technology hasn’t advanced enough to comply with the law. Smith & Wesson announced in 2014 that they would be pulling some guns from the market in California rather than complying with the law (a cynic might theorize that this is the law’s actual intent).
The National Shooting Sports Foundation sued to block the law. California’s Civil Code contains a section that simply reads, “The law never requires impossibilities.” So the question the state’s Supreme Court was addressing was whether the courts can invalidate this law because it is impossible for people to comply with it.
Not only did the California Supreme Court rule that it cannot invalidate the law, but it ruled so unanimously. To be clear: The court does not suggest that people can face punishment for being unable to comply with impossible laws. Instead, the court says, “impossibility can occasionally excuse noncompliance with a statute, but in such circumstances, the excusal constitutes an interpretation of the statute in accordance with the Legislature’s intent, not an invalidation of the law.”