The House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to extend the Undetectable Firearms Act, a gun control law that prohibits plastic guns from being made without metal parts, for an additional 10 years.
The Undetectable Firearms Act, which has existed since 1988, requires any plastic gun to be made with a minimum amount of metal parts, so that they can be detectable by X-Ray machines and metal detectors.
But the law’s recent extension does not account for the dramatic advancements in 3D-printing technology. Specifically, the law does not dictate whether plastic guns can be made with removable metal parts.
Fully-functioning guns made entirely from 3D-printed parts are no longer the stuff of science fiction; they are reality.
In 2013, Defense Distributed, an Austin-based gun designer, created the Liberator, the first fully-functioning 3D-printed gun made up of 15 plastic parts and one metal part: a small nail for the gun’s firing pin. The company made history when the Liberator’s schematic became easily downloadable by anyone with an Internet connection.
The company has since modified their design to comply with the gun control law by inserting a block of non-functioning metal inside the gun. The metal block serves no real purpose other than to meet the law’s detection requirements.
That’s precisely the ambiguity of the Undetectable Firearms Act that some lawmakers are trying to change.
The most vocal political opponent of 3D-printed guns is New York Rep. Steve Israel, who is currently working on the Undetectable Firearms Modernization Act. The proposed gun control law would require every detachable part of a plastic gun or rifle to be detectable.
“I would have preferred to modernize the Undetectable Firearms Act, to eliminate some loopholes in the law, by requiring that certain metal components be permanent or not easily removed,” said Israel in a recent Forbes.com article. “I would have liked to close that loophole.”
Featured image credit: The Firearm Blog