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Can Congress manage to extend the expiring ban on plastic guns?

A 25-year-old federal law requiring that all guns be detectable by security screeners will expire Dec. 9. Will it get renewed?

With 3-D printers able to create almost completely plastic/resin guns, the technology and the market are very different from what they were in 1988, when the law first passed and such weapons only existed pretty much in sci-fi movies, or in 1998, when the law was renewed. The technology has gotten better and cheaper.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives officials said this week that they themselves had made and fired eight rounds with a printed handgun called the Liberator; officials ordered that the gun’s design be taken down from a website last May, but not before the design had been downloaded more than 100,000 times.

Feds are concerned about a “stealth weapon” made entirely of materials capable of slipping through most security detectors. Remember the gun that the John Malkovich would-be assassin’s character designed and made in the 1993 movie “In the Line of Fire,” which he managed to slip through security and get off a shot at the president with?

The 3-D printed gun’s maker told the BBC: “I recognize that the tool might be used, yeah, to harm other people. That’s what it is. It’s a gun. But again, I don’t think that’s a reason not to do it, to not put it out there. I think that liberty, in the end, is a better interest.&dlquo;

Congress’ action on renewing this ban will be worth watching. Democrats in the Senate and the House have new versions of the law that would, among other things, require a gun’s barrel, slide and receiver to be made from metal, which would make them detectable by most security scanners. But they don’t seem to be advancing speedily to votes.

Will this be a battle the National Rifle Assn. chooses to take on, arguing that even this law infringes on the 2nd Amendment? Would the NRA part company with law enforcement and public opinion as it did by defending armor-piercing bullets, called “cop killers”? And if the NRA does raise a ruckus, would Congress really cave and let the law expire?

ALSO:

Monitoring a climate epidemic

Better ways to grade public schools

Kicking Obamacare’s problems down the road

 Follow Patt Morrison on Twitter @pattmlatimes

Copyright © 2015, CT Now
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