In the endless saga that is the the story of the 3D printed gun, Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY), has made an official announcement that he will attempt to pass legislation to better control undetectable firearms, including 3D printed guns. Israel, who unsuccessfully attempted to add language to the Undetectable Firearms Act, H.R. 3626 in 2013 that would specifically ban the 3D printing of guns, recently stated that he would consider to do so again. Yesterday, at La Guardia airport in New York, the congressperson made his remarks official.
“My legislation will close a dangerous loophole and require certain major components of guns are made of metal so they can be detected,” Rep. Israel said. “It’s time to modernize our airport security so the American people can count on it again.” Currently, the congressperson fears that 3D printed guns, lumped in with other undetectable firearms, may have the ability to slip through metal detectors at such locations as airports and courthouses. This is because the Undetectable Firearms Act, renewed without 3D printing-specific language in 2013, only requires that firearms have some piece of metal in their design. In the case of the 3D printed Liberator pistol, made famous by Cody Wilson, this piece of metal is a small, easily-removable components.
Israel’s legislation would require that a functional piece of the firearm be made of metal, making it more difficult to make weapons with easily removable, more trivial metal parts. This avoids issues raised in response to the congressperson’s initial legislation in 2013. Rather than focusing on 3D printing specifically, as he had in his original bill, Rep. Israel avoid regulating specific manufacturing technologies and, instead, focuses on the weapons themselves, regardless of whether or not they were milled, printed, or even glued.
A Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General report released this month showed that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was only able to detect illegal items smuggled through airport checkpoints three out of 70 times. Israel continued, “If detectable weapons can make it through security checkpoints how can we expect to catch wrongdoers carrying undetectable plastic firearms?”