An expiring law could make new plastic guns produced by 3D printers legal, but the weapons could compromise security measures in airports, government buildings, and other public facilities, federal authorities are warning.
Concern about undetectable plastic weapons has been growing since last year when Texas gun dealer Cody Wilson posted blueprints he created online so people could assemble their own guns from new 3D printers, reports The Wall Street Journal
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A 1988 law banning production of firearms that don't contain enough metal to register on detectors will expire next month, and congressional aides say they're not sure if renewal legislation will come up for a vote before Congress adjourns for the holidays.
Democratic New York Sen. Charles Schumer said lawmakers are exploring options to pass tougher legislation to eliminate the threat of undetectable weapons. The expiration of the 1988 law, along with advances in 3D printing technology, makes "what was once a hypothetical threat into a terrifying reality," Schumer said.
According to agents at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, no shootings have been linked to 3D plastic guns in the United States and no one at the moment is under investigation for possessing such a weapon.
One of the reasons, the Journal noted, is cost. A 3D printer capable of producing a usable plastic firearm would cost at least $100,000. Most 3D printers in use now are much cheaper at around $1,000 and aren't capable of the work.
According to Fox News
, law enforcement officials aren't particularly concerned about common criminals suddenly being able to produce their own guns at home, but worry more about the weapons going undetected when they are brought into secure areas.
The guns, authorities note, can also be dangerous to people firing them. According to Wilson's prototype design, the plastic gun holds a single bullet, but shatters into pieces when it's fired. But with more advanced plastics, the gun won't shatter and can be reloaded and fired again.
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