Congress on Monday beat a midnight deadline and renewed an expiring prohibition on plastic guns that can slip past metal detectors, but lawmakers failed to advance tougher restrictions introduced by Democrats.
The Senate by unanimous consent approved a 10-year extension of the 1988 ban, which became a focal point this year amid increasing concern that ever-improving 3-D printing technology is facilitating the homemade production of firearms made of hard polymer.
The House passed an identical extension last week, and the measure -- which comes just days before the first anniversary of the deadly mass shooting at a Newtown, Ct., elementary school -- now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.
Gun control advocates have pressed for new laws restricting firearms in the wake of the Newtown tragedy, which saw 20 first-graders and six teachers shot dead by a man wielding a semi-automatic rifle, but they have been stymied by Republican opposition.
Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer had sought to expand the scope of the ban to make it illegal for people to use 3-D printers to make guns that did not contain an undetachable metal part.
"I think it would have made the bill better, stronger, with fewer loopholes," Schumer said on the Senate floor.
"But that doesn't mean we can't try to do that over the next several months."
Schumer has argued that such a loophole, if not closed, would allow people, including terrorists, to more easily smuggle a working firearm onto a plane or into a secure facility.
Republicans blocked the Schumer language, arguing it could be construed as an attempt to further regulate gun laws.
"I am glad gun control groups failed in their attempts to use this vote as an opportunity to further regulate the lawful ownership of firearms," said Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who backed the unadorned extension.
© AFP 2014