It hasn’t gotten much attention yet, but a federal ban on undetectable guns will expire in just a couple of weeks. Some Democratic lawmakers are pushing for congressional action ahead of the Dec. 9 deadline.
Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) introduced a bill Thursday that would ban guns designed to escape detection by metal detectors. S. 1774 would reauthorize the Undetectable Firearms Act, which first passed in 1988.Schumer tried to get unanimous consent to pass the bill Thursday evening, but Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) objected, saying it wasn’t a day to be passing any legislation.
“I hope as soon as we come back, we might get this body to pass it, and maybe get the House to pass it,” Schumer said. “We are in a dangerous world. To allow terrorists, criminals, those who are mentally infirm, to walk through metal detectors with guns that are made of plastic and then use them at airports, sporting events, and schools is a very bad thing.”
It’s hardly a secret that congressional Republicans oppose any new gun measures, no matter how popular or sensible they may be, but at issue here is whether an existing law can remain in place.
Under the status quo, federal law prohibits the “manufacture, sale, import or possession of guns that are undetectable by metal detectors and X-ray machines.” The Undetectable Firearms Act was first signed into law by President Reagan in 1988, and it’s been renewed with relative ease twice since then, but with the radicalization of Republican politics, and limited time remaining, the law’s future is very much in doubt.
The irony is, the law is arguably more necessary now than ever. Quite recently, 3-D printing has become more common and readily available to consumers, making it that much easier to produce deadly weapons, quickly and cheaply, that include no metal parts.
Senate Dems are pushing to leave the existing law in place, as are several House Dems. Congress doesn’t have many work days left this year, and the current ban expires in 17 days.