Re­cess to com­pli­cate push to re­new plas­tic gun ban

Time is short to act be­fore law lapses

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics - BY DAVID SHERFINSKI

The fed­eral law ban­ning un­de­tectable plas­tic guns ex­pires in two weeks and Congress is on a Thanks­giv­ing va­ca­tion, mak­ing it likely the law will lapse — and open­ing up at least a tem­po­rary prob­lem.

Gun con­trol pro­po­nents say the search for a so­lu­tion is even more ur­gent with the ex­pand­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties of 3-D prin­ters, which can man­u­fac­ture plas­tic guns that can be un­trace­able through tra­di­tional means.

Rac­ing the Dec. 9 dead­line, Se­nate Democrats tried to speed through a bill last week keep­ing the ban in place, but a Repub­li­can ob­jected, ar­gu­ing the leg­is­la­tion had just been in­tro­duced hours be­fore the cham­ber was sched­uled to leave town. That ob­jec­tion halted the bill.

“[T]his is not a good day to move for­ward with this leg­is­la­tion,” said Sen. Jeff Ses­sions, Alabama Repub­li­can. “We will be glad to give it se­ri­ous at­ten­tion. I know it is the kind of thing we prob­a­bly can clear at some point.”

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Demo­crat and the bill’s spon­sor, said he un­der­stood Mr. Ses­sions’ ob­jec­tion, given the up­heaval in the cham­ber, but said that “this is se­ri­ous stuff.”

“What makes us need to do this rather quickly is that a few months ago some­one in Texas pub­lished on a web­site a way to make a plas­tic gun, buy­ing a 3-D printer for less than $1,000,” Mr. Schumer said. “There are over 200,000 copies, hits on that web­site. Peo­ple hit the web­site then, so we have to move quickly here. I hope we can move as soon as we get back.”

The State Depart­ment in May or­dered Tex­as­based De­fense Dis­trib­uted to take down a 3-D gun model, called the “Lib­er­a­tor,” from its web­site.

Mr. Schumer’s of­fice said Mon­day there’s still a chance to pass the re­newal since the Se­nate con­venes on the day the act ex­pires, but if it does lapse, they will con­tinue work­ing to get an agree­ment to ad­vance leg­is­la­tion as quickly as pos­si­ble.

Fed­eral law also says that gun parts and com­po­nents must ap­pear clearly when ex­am­ined by X-ray ma­chines com­monly found in air­ports. The act was first passed by Congress and signed by Pres­i­dent Rea­gan in 1988 and has been re­newed twice since then — once un­der Pres­i­dent Clin­ton and once un­der Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush.

In the House, Rep. Steve Is­rael, New York Demo­crat, has filed a sim­i­lar bill that would make it il­le­gal to man­u­fac­ture, own, trans­port, buy, or sell any firearm or mag­a­zine that is home­made and not de­tectable by metal de­tec­tor and/or does not present an ac­cu­rate im­age when put through an x-ray ma­chine.

Philadel­phia, last week, be­came the first ma­jor U.S. city to ban 3-D-printed guns. The Bureau of Al­co­hol, To­bacco, Firearms and Ex­plo­sives also has is­sued re­cent warn­ings about the newly avail­able tech­nol­ogy.

The ATF said fed­eral firearms laws do not limit the tech­nol­ogy or pro­cesses that can be used to make guns, but that peo­ple must ob­tain fed­eral li­censes if they want to sell the man­u­fac­tured weapons.

De­fense Dis­trib­uted de­scribes it­self on its web­site as “a pend­ing 501(c)(3) sta­tus non­profit cor­po­ra­tion in the state of Texas, or­ga­nized and op­er­ated ex­clu­sively for char­i­ta­ble and literary pur­poses.”

The or­ga­ni­za­tion said in a state­ment Mon­day that the con­gres­sional push is “a gun con­trol ef­fort wrapped in se­cu­rity the­ater.”

“Any­one can buy a plas­tic [mag­a­zine] and re­ceiver online or at Wal­mart,” the state­ment read. “Man­dat­ing ar­bi­trary amounts of metal be part of their fab­ri­ca­tion is an at­tempt to frus­trate and sup­press the de­vel­op­ment of this tech­nol­ogy and nar­row your lib­er­ties un­der your nose.”


Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Demo­crat, said “this is se­ri­ous stuff,” re­fer­ring to re­new­ing the ban on plas­tic guns. His of­fice said that there may still be time for the Se­nate to re­new the ban when it ex­pires on the day that the cham­ber re­con­venes.

Sen. Jeff Ses­sions, Alabama Repub­li­can, halted Se­nate ac­tion on a bill last week to re­new the plas­tic weapons ban. He ob­jected be­cause it was in­tro­duced just hours be­fore the cham­ber ad­journed.

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