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Senate extends plastic gun ban

With advances in 3D printing, gun safety advocates were increasingly worried about guns that could slip past metal detectors.
Cody Wilson with the first completely 3D-printed handgun, The Liberator, at his home in Austin, Texas on May 10, 2013.
Cody Wilson with the first completely 3D-printed handgun, The Liberator, at his home in Austin, Texas on May 10, 2013.

The Senate voted to extend for another decade the ban on undetectable firearms, just days before the one-year mark of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The House of Representatives last week voted to extend for another 10 years the ban that prohibits the manufacture, sale, or possession of guns that cannot be detected by X-ray machines or metal detectors.

Legislators passed the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 amid growing concern that gun makers produced the weapons to bypass security measures in public buildings. It would have expired by midnight on Monday if Congress failed to act. President Obama signed the extension on Monday evening.

But GOP senators rejected an attempt by New York Sen. Chuck Schumer to add language to close what he called a loophole that blocks gun makers from adding a removable piece of metal to the weapon. Recent technological advances in 3D industrial printers enabled the production of guns made entirely of plastic. 

"It is in our strong best interest of the nation to pass this law. I don’t know how any senator, any Congress person can say they’re interest is in the best interest of our homeland security and vote against extending this ban," Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said Monday ahead of the vote.

The National Rifle Association worked to thwart expansion of the ban and Schumer's efforts.

"The NRA strongly opposes any expansion of the Undetectable Firearms Act, including applying the [Undetectable Firearms Act] to magazines, gun parts, or the development of new technologies," the organization wrote in a statement published last week ahead of the vote in the House.

Twenty-one states enacted new laws to curb gun violence, according to the 2013 State Gun Laws Scorecard jointly released Monday by the Brady Campaign and the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. The profusion of gun reform measures amounts to a broad shift in momentum on the gun debate that has often flown under the radar.