Lawmakers Hope to Regulate 3D Printed Guns with an Act from the 1980s

US legislators hope the Undetectable Firearms Act can prevent the spread of 3D printed weapons.

3D printing, gun, legislation, security, US, law, weapon, firearmUS Senator Chuck Schumer (D) is sounding the alarm about the proliferation of 3D printed weapons as a law banning undetectable firearms is set to end on December 9, 2013.

The Undetectable Firearms Act, which was adopted in the 1980s, sought to make firearms more easily detectable by requiring that they contain a minimum amount of detectable metals. At the time, lightweight polymer based firearms like the Glock-17 were entering the market, and lawmakers feared these weapons posed a potential security risk.

Today the same fears still echo through the halls of Washington, only now those fears are stoked by the dual specters of terrorism and 3D printed guns.

“If the [Undetectable Firearms Act] is not renewed, individuals will be able to easily carry a 3D plastic gun through a metal detector and gain access to an airplane, school, sporting event, courthouse or other government buildings,” Schumer said in a statement.

To address the lapse in the law, Schumer and his Republican colleague Ben Nelson have drafted legislation that would make it illegal to carry firearms made of undetectable materials, such as those used to create the Liberator Gun at Defense Distributed.

Schumer and Nelson plan to pass the Undetectable Firearms Act extension legislation by attaching it to another bill that absolutely must pass. The thinking is that once the act has been extended, legislators will be able to breathe a sigh of relief; though it is worth pointing out that the Undetectable Firearms Act is more reactive than it is preventative. As it stands, the law can only punish individuals after they’ve been caught with a weapon, rather than prevent the proliferation of undetectable guns and their designs in the first place.

If legislators were serious about preventing the spread of these weapons they’d be better off educating the public about the dangers inherent in 3D printed weapons. In recent tests, the ATF printed and fired two versions of the Liberator weapon. While the ABS version fared well, successfully firing 8 rounds, a similar model printed from VisiJet material experienced catastrophic failure.

Video Courtesy of ATF