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Lawmakers Worried About Expiring Ban On Undetected Firearms

Top law enforcement officials and lawmakers expressed concerns this week about potential harm caused by plastic guns which can be built by anyone with a 3D printer. The gun’s design, already widely circulated online, is intended to create a virtually undetectable gun.

Richard Marianos, an official with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, urged that the guns “create a public safety concern,” adding that the weapons could present further challenges for law enforcement in places such as airplanes, courtrooms and event venues.

The plastic gun, dubbed the “Liberator,” uses a small nail as a firing pin small enough to evade detection by metal detectors. Although under the Undetectable Firearms Act, guns are legally required to contain a minimum amount of metal to be detected, the Liberator’s metallic part can be easily removed and is not essential for the weapon to function as intended.

However, the Undetectable Firearms Act, voted in by Congress in 1988, is set to expire in December, which would allow weapons like the Liberator to exist without a mandatory minimum amount of metal.

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) voiced his worries. “The expiration of this law, combined with advances in 3-D printing, make what was once a hypothetical threat into a terrifying reality,” he said, noting that Congress is seeking for ways to adjust the law around this new kind of weapons technology.

However, Cody Wilson, the inventor of the Liberator, has maintained a defiant stance toward any legislation limiting the production or usage of 3D printed guns. Earlier this year, Wilson was in the spotlight earlier this year after Sen. Steve Israel (D-NY) tried to renew the 1988 ban—which has already been renewed by Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush since then—and addressed some of the dangers in Wilson’s design.

Wilson’s response to Israel? A succinct “Good f***ing luck.”

About the author

Gary Bryan is an industrial marketing manager by daytime and political and social issues writer by night. You can also find his editorials at Mic.com.