U.S. ban on guns that escape metal detectors set to expire

WASHINGTON Fri Nov 15, 2013 1:29pm EST

A traveler walks through a metal detector at a security check point in John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, February, 29, 2012. REUTERS/Andrew Burton

A traveler walks through a metal detector at a security check point in John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, February, 29, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Andrew Burton

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A 25-year-old U.S. ban on any firearms that can escape discovery by a metal detector is scheduled to expire next month, just as law enforcement officials say they are closely watching the proliferation of plastic guns made with 3D printers.

Attorney General Eric Holder said on Friday that if the 1988 Undetectable Firearms Act is allowed to end, plastic guns made with the fast-evolving 3D printing technology could be smuggled more easily.

"This is a very worrisome threat to law enforcement and to people who fly every day. We can't have guns legally in circulation that are not detectable by metal detectors," Holder said in a statement.

The law is due to expire on December 9, according to the Justice Department. Democrats in the Senate and House of Representatives introduced legislation months ago to renew the ban, but their proposals have not gotten votes.

New 3D printers have been used to build working firearms, in addition to medical devices, furniture and an array of other objects.

Americans generally may make guns for personal use, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, but the 1988 law prohibits anyone from making a gun that, after removal of grips, stocks and magazines, is imperceptible by a metal detector.

Holder said a renewed ban on undetectable guns "should enjoy broad, bipartisan support."

Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York said in a statement that lawmakers "are actively exploring all options to pass legislation that will eliminate the threat of completely undetectable weapons."

President Barack Obama pushed new gun control measures such as expanded background checks this year in response to the December 2012 shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, but the legislation failed in the Senate. The House did not take it up.

(Additional reporting by Thomas Ferraro; Editing by Howard Goller and Philip Barbara)

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Comments (2)
dwsmith19 wrote:
Why is it that every time they write about guns, They put a picture of an AR style rifle?

Nov 15, 2013 4:11pm EST  --  Report as abuse
JamesWinthrop wrote:
Yes, please, make sure that we ban something that doesn’t exist in reality, and didn’t at the time the first iteration was passed in the 80′s. This was a bill inspired by ignorant congressmen/women that had watched too many movies. Same with the “cop killer” bullet ban in the 90s, inspired by lethal weapon movies. Even “3d printed” guns require metal springs and firing pins. Moreover, since airports are using millimeter-wave technology, the new polymer firearms are hardly “undetectable” as the more dense material would show up pretty clearly through such imaging. That’s ignoring altogether that the ammunition itself is comprised of metal components, and that if anybody wanted a firearm that would reliably fire more than once, or more than the smallest available caliber, they’re going to need at least some metal in the barrel. How about we quit freaking out and passing legislation that deals with non-issues. As it is, a LOT of REAL, actual, metal, firearms make it through security all the time. And if somebody wanted to (and it was a logistically/mechanically feasible thing to do in the first place) make an “undetectable” firearm, they’re going to. And a stupid ban will have ZERO effect on that.

Nov 16, 2013 12:52am EST  --  Report as abuse
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