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The Only Law Standing in the Way of Completely Legal Undetectable Guns Is About to Expire

The Only Law Standing in the Way of Completely Legal Undetectable Guns Is About to Expire

Written by Rebecca Leber

On December 9, a law banning firearms that can go unnoticed by a metal detector is set to expire. Since 1988, the Undetectable Firearms Act has banned undetectable guns, which can be made from plastic through 3D printers.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) have introduced legislation that expands the undetectable firearms law to ban 3D-printed guns, require guns to be recognizable as guns, and to contain significant metal. “The expiration of this law, combined with advances in 3D printing, make what was once a hypothetical threat into a terrifying reality,” Schumer said, according to the Associated Press. Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) introduced his own version in the House to renew the law. Still, the urgency of the issue does not mean Congress will take up the bills in its remaining days.

Even the soon-to-expire law contains a major loophole that permits plastic guns as long as they have a small metal piece that could be easily removed. One widespread model, the Liberator, uses a nail so small that it would not be picked up by metal detectors. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives recently tested the model, only to find that “the .380 bullets fired from the Liberator penetrate sufficiently to reach vital organs and perforate the skull.”

It is still expensive to print a working gun, upwards of $100,000, although the technology is becoming cheaper and more widespread. “This is more for someone who wants to get into an area and perhaps be an assassin,” an ATF official told the Wall Street Journal. “Or they want to go to a courthouse and shoot a witness.”

The Department of Homeland Security has reportedly warned that it may be impossible to limit access to 3D printed guns. Given current law, the challenges are immense: 3D printed guns don’t require a license to make or own, and the amount of metal required is often not enough to be detected by metal detectors. As policy lags behind, the technology keeps progressing. Now, 3D printers can manufacture bullets and metal guns, too.

This post was originally published in ThinkProgress

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Photo Credit: Electric-Eye/Flickr

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94 comments

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3:35AM PST on Nov 23, 2013

What is it about america with so many lawyers. Do the lawyers see it as theyr`s life task to find any loophole they can find at any time?

7:22AM PST on Nov 20, 2013

Good that laws and others like it never should have been enacted.

7:21AM PST on Nov 20, 2013

Good that laws and others like it never should have been enacted.

6:09PM PST on Nov 19, 2013

Guns made of plastic should be outlawed. That won't prevent a criminal from getting their hands on a metal gun, but might help protect people who fly.
The next new gun to be invented will be made of something else entirely, maybe rubber such as tires are made of. If they all require a piece of metal it should be made impossible to remove it without making the gun inoperable.
I believe we all have the right to own a gun for our own protection. Criminals will be able to get their hands on one even if all guns are confiscated and banned. That just leaves the law abiding citizens unable to protect themselves from home intruders and more. We should stop the government from taking away our rights.

1:35PM PST on Nov 19, 2013

Another "loophole" law ... surprise, surpise. Doesn't make me feel any safer, how 'bout you. Between rules, regulations, loopholes, lack of enforcement and corruption there will always be a better mouse trap. Challenge, that's the game.

Did anyone see the STOSSEL SPECIAL: War on the Little Guy" which aired Saturday, November 15, 2013? Not just about gun control with all its ramifications, but about government control overall ... more government, less freedom. Food for thought if you have the time.

8:01PM PST on Nov 18, 2013

printing a gun.
wow.
there are no words except maybe these:

we have no one to blame but ourselves.

that pretty much covers everything.
:(

7:57PM PST on Nov 18, 2013

Technology is inherently neither good nor evil. The same 3-D Printer that can print a prosthetic hand can print a plastic gun. It's all in the mind of the human that controls the printer.

2:47PM PST on Nov 18, 2013

ty

2:16PM PST on Nov 18, 2013

I just cant understand why so many of you people live in fear.
Make a law banning anything. It will only stop people who obey laws. If im going to commit a crime what does it matter if I break the law getting the supplies to do so. SO many of you people would arrest others for thought crimes it makes me sick.

You should hear yourselfs. "we need this law/ we need more laws/ guns are bad/ crime will go up if people are not stopped from thinking/ oh dear im scared/ in a few years we could be living in a real scary world"

Im glad i dont live in a state of fear like most of you. People Die. Most of them should.

1:53PM PST on Nov 18, 2013

Don't expect any action from this
worthless Congress. They seem
content to just continue letting
people get massacred.

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