Gun Laws & Legislation
Printed AR lower receiver. Image from WikiWep Dev Blog. Printed AR lower receiver. Image from WikiWep Dev Blog.  

Democratic congressman urges legislation to renew ban on plastic guns that don’t exist

Mike Piccione
Editor, Guns & Gear

New York Democratic Rep. Steve Israel is calling for legislation to renew the federal ban on plastic guns, according to his official congressional website.

“Recent reports have pointed to the new possibility of building guns at home using a 3-D printer,” Israel’s website states. “Right now, plastic guns are illegal under the Undetectable Firearms Act, but this law is set to expire next year.”

3-D printers, which have been available since the 1980s, take two-dimensional plans and convert them to three-dimensional objects, which are then usually made from plastic.

Homemade plastic firearms are difficult for airport X-ray machines to detect. They also cannot be registered or traced, because they lack identification numbers.

“Printing all of the parts to make a gun at home isn’t feasible,” Israel’s website notes, but “we should act now to give law enforcement authorities the power to stop the development of these weapons before they are as easy to come by as a Google search.”

The website DefenseDistributed.com attempted to make part of an AR rifle’s lower receiver — not the entire weapon — using plastic. The part failed after six shots.

While it may be possible to create a gun using 3-D printing technology and entirely non-metallic parts, chamber pressure and other stress points that ordinarily require metal engineering would likely lead to a high failure rate.

Even if a functional plastic gun could be developed, caseless ammunition without any metal parts would still be required for its operator to evade metal detectors and X-rays. That kind of ammunition is not readily available.

Israel is a reliably anti-gun member of Congress, and he has received an “F” rating from the National Rifle Association.

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