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

Photo Credit: Electric-Eye/Flickr


Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks for the article.

Past Member
.2 years ago

This article is actually remarkable one it helps many new users that desire to read always the best stuff. John Franklin

Nils Anders Lunde
PlsNoMessage se4 years ago

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?

Scott haakon
Scott haakon4 years ago

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

Scott haakon
Scott haakon4 years ago

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

Jane R.
Jane R4 years ago

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.

Deborah W.
Deborah W4 years ago

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.

Kristin Love
Kristin Love4 years ago

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

we have no one to blame but ourselves.

that pretty much covers everything.

Alan Lambert
Alan Lambert4 years ago

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.

Lynn C.
Lynn C4 years ago