One of the most hotly debated topics when it comes to 3D printing are laws or the lack thereof laws which aim to protect the public via bans on undetectable firearms. Whether you are for or against such laws, there is no debating that the topic is an interesting one, one which will continue to be discussed, debated, and acted upon for years to come.
Earlier this month, surprising results for a recent series of tests by the US Department of Homeland Security were revealed. During the tests, teams working undercover were able to sneak weapons through TSA security checkpoints nearly every single time they tried. According to the report, in 67 out of 70 tests agents were successfully able to sneak banned items such as fake explosives and other weapons through checkpoints. This is clearly a major lapse in security on the part of the TSA, and it led to the reassignment of acting administrator Melvin Carraway.
In the wake of all this, as well as the recent highly publicized headlines regarding 3D printed firearms, namely Cody Wilson’s battle with the State Department, New York Congressman Steve Israel and and other Democrats have reintroduced the Undetectable Firearms Modernization Act today at La Guardia Airport in NYC.
“My legislation will close a dangerous loophole and require certain major components of guns are made of metal so they can be detected,” said Rep. Steve Israel. “It’s time to modernize our airport security so the American people can count on it again.”
Currently the law states that any firearm that is manufactured, bought, sold, or transported must have a specific amount of metal within it so that it is ‘detectable’ by metal detectors. This means that a non-functioning part of the weapon could provide the necessary metal to make it legal, for instance a few metal weights placed within the handle. Israel and fellow Democrats argue that such a law is pointless, as those metal pieces, not required for the gun to function, could easily be removed, making a once detectable weapon undetectable.
What the Undetectable Firearms Modernization Act seeks to accomplish is to set forth regulations requiring that any firearm have at least one major component that is detectable by typical metal detectors. This would make it much more difficult to either legally or illegally remove the metal components to make the gun undetectable, while still being operable.
“If detectable weapons can make it through security checkpoints, how can we expect to catch wrongdoers carrying undetectable plastic firearms?” Israel told The Hill. “What could be worse than a gun that can be used on an airplane, but cannot be detected on the security line because it’s plastic? It’s time to modernize our airport security so the American people can count on it.”
In April 2013, the legislation was first introduced, but it died in Congress. Democrats now hope to use the recent lapses in the TSA’s procedures as well as the public’s possible fear about 3D printed firearms to reignite a fire under their legislation. It will be interesting to follow this political battle over the coming months as the debate is sure to heat up.
Let’s hear where you stand on this issue. Should government throw yet another obstacle in the way of gun owners? Are 3D printing and plastic firearms legitimate threats? Discuss in the Undetectable Firearm Legislation forum thread on 3DPB.com.