The federal ban on undetectable firearms is about to expire, consequently lawmakers are looking at ways to not only renew the ban on undetectable firearms but also ways to expand the ban so that it specifically includes all forms of 3-D printable firearms.
The Undetectable Firearms Act makes it illegal to “manufacture, import, sell, ship, deliver, possess, transfer, or receive any firearm that is not as detectable by walk-through metal detection as a security exemplar containing 3.7-ounce of steel, or any firearm with major components that do not generate an accurate image before standard airport imaging technology.”
Arguably ahead of its time, the UFA was first passed in 1988. It was then renewed in 1998 and 2003. Though now, it is set to expire at midnight on Dec. 9.
Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) are leading the charge in the Senate to renew and expand the law.
“The expiration of this law, combined with advances in 3-D printing, make what was once a hypothetical threat into a terrifying reality,” Schumer told The Associated Press. “We are actively exploring all options to pass legislation that will eliminate the problem.”
Schumer was alluding to ‘The Liberator,‘ the 3-D printable gun that was designed by Cody Wilson of Defense Distributed, a nonprofit, pro-Second Amendment civil liberty group based in Texas. Wilson uploaded the blueprints for The Liberator to the Internet back in May. Before the Dept. of Defense ordered Wilson to take down the files, blueprints for The Liberator were downloaded hundreds of thousands of times.
Still, despite the Defense Departments best effort to shut down access to the files, blueprints for The Liberator and other 3-D printable firearms exist on various file sharing websites across the Internet. Essentially, anyone who owns or has access to a 3-D printer can print a firearm for less than $100.
“The fact that anyone with the right equipment can make a fully-functioning weapon from their own home with the click of a mouse is a truly frightening concept,” Nelson said in a statement. “Weapons like this pose a serious threat to our national security and we need to do everything we can to keep them off our streets.”
Given that 3-D printable firearms are still in their nascency, their lifespans are limited. Depending on the strength of the plastic polymer their constructed from, some are only capable of firing several rounds before they crack or malfunction. Though, as technology improves and the process is refined, that is destined to change.
Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) is also working with Nelson and Schumer. He drafted a bill that would ban the design, manufacture, sale, import, export and possession of the 3-D plastic guns. The legislation would require a gun’s receiver, slide and barrel to be made from metal, as USA Today reports.
In the weeks to come, Schumer, Nelson and Israel will likely push this issue to the forefront of Congress’s legislative agenda. Given that gun control has been hotly debated this year, it will be interesting to see how pro-gun lawmakers in the House and Senate receive the bill.