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  • The Undetectable Firearms Act

    The Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 is a ban on guns that cannot be detected by your typical walk-through metal detector that has been calibrated to a standardized security exemplar. Can't manufacture one; can't import one; can't ship one; can't possess one. The original law had an expiration date of 1998, but it was renewed for 5 years, and then in 2003 it was renewed for another 10 years. So, it expires at the end of this year unless it's renewed again.

    It was originally inspired by the Glock 17, which had (at the time) an unprecedented amount of composite material in its construction. What didn't exist in 1988, or in 1993, or in 2003 was the Liberator, an almost entirely plastic gun produced by 3D printer whose geometry files have been downloaded over 100,000 times.

    There are three bills (that I know of) in congress for the purpose of extending and expanding (to included magazines) the Act: S. 1149; H.R. 1474; and H.R. 1860.

    So, what do you think? Is a federal ban on X-ray invisible firearms an unconstitutional attack on your second amendment rights?
    Last edited by Norm dePlume; Saturday, November 16, 2013, 1:37 PM.
    Enjoy.

  • #2
    I own a Glock 17 & 19 and have had them from before 1988 for the 17 and 1992 for the 19. What I think, since you asked, is this simple fact. Laws only affect the law biding, not the criminal. The criminal will just ignore them.
    If it pays, it stays

    Comment


    • #3
      I have a very hard time believing that a Glock 17 or 19 would somehow not set off a metal detector. Yes, the frame is composite, but the barrel and the slide are a very substantial bit of metal. An unloaded Glock 17 weighs 22.5 oz, and at least a pound of that weight is the barrel and the slide. A small Smith & Wesson revolver weighs about the same and, discounting the grips, probably has about the same amount of metal. Does anyone think that this revolver would get through a metal detector?
      Bask in the warmth of the Deep South
      No one will be denied:
      Big law suits and bathroom toots;
      We're all getting Dixie-fried.
      But somewhere Hank and Lefty
      Are rollin' in their graves
      While kudzu vines grow over signs that read "Jesus Saves."

      Comment


      • #4
        To be clear, Glocks do not violate the act and never have. They have enough metal in them to be detectable and recognizable by metal detectors and X-ray scanners. When I said that the Act was inspired by the Glock 17, I mean the Glock 17 was seen as the beginning of a trend that might be a problem if taken too far.

        While it's true that some people ignore laws, that doesn't actually mean that those laws shouldn't exist. It doesn't mean we shouldn't have speed limits, or laws against robbery, or laws against rape. People still speed, and some people still rob, and some people still rape. But not as many as if there were no law against it.
        Enjoy.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Adam View Post
          I have a very hard time believing that a Glock 17 or 19 would somehow not set off a metal detector. Yes, the frame is composite, but the barrel and the slide are a very substantial bit of metal. An unloaded Glock 17 weighs 22.5 oz, and at least a pound of that weight is the barrel and the slide. A small Smith & Wesson revolver weighs about the same and, discounting the grips, probably has about the same amount of metal. Does anyone think that this revolver would get through a metal detector?
          No. Nobody believes that. Nor do they believe it about the Glocks.
          Enjoy.

          Comment


          • #6
            I think laws like this will be abused by 'the Man' and criminals don't care what the laws are...

            Comment


            • #7
              Everyone is avoiding the constitutionality question so far.
              Enjoy.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Norm dePlume View Post
                So, what do you think? Is a federal ban on X-ray invisible firearms an unconstitutional attack on your second amendment rights?
                I finished reading the article. What I think is that it's pointless. It's not going to change anything.

                Ever see the movie In the Line of Fire? In the movie, Mitch Leary creates a composite-plastic gun with the intent of using it to assassinate the President. While they don't really give away much in the way of detail in the movie, what Leary does is not really distant from the truth: if you have some knowledge of plastics (which anyone can get from the internet or their local library) and some very basic home tools (drill, vice), anyone can get the materials to build such a weapon from their local hobby shop or even Home Depot. Spend a little bit more and they could get a second-hand lathe that could easily be adapted to actually rifle the barrel of such a gun. I know because I've watched a gunsmith friend of mine do exactly this, basically as a project to see if it could be done. None of these acquisitions would ever raise a red flag with anyone: the plastics involved could just as easily be used in building model airplanes and it would take about the same amount. Many people have tools like small lathes in their garage/backyard workshop; my ex's grandfather has one in his little woodworking shop in his shed behind his suburban Mobile home.

                The only issue here is the 3D printer. That makes it relatively easy and means that one doesn't necessarily have to learn much about plastics, but as the article noted, there still has to be some knowledge about how to treat the barrel to harden it. The $8000 printer costs far, FAR more than a few tubes of epoxy at Hobby Lobby and a used lathe at a garage sale. In short, if someone is determined to get an "invisible" gun, they're not going to be deterred in the slightest by this law.
                Bask in the warmth of the Deep South
                No one will be denied:
                Big law suits and bathroom toots;
                We're all getting Dixie-fried.
                But somewhere Hank and Lefty
                Are rollin' in their graves
                While kudzu vines grow over signs that read "Jesus Saves."

                Comment


                • #9
                  See?
                  Enjoy.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I have seen In the Line of Fire. I rather like the idea that if the assassin had been caught packing his undetectable weapon he could be arrested for it. It's good you mention that, though, because it's a good illustration of exactly the sort of person who would have a use for a piece of crap weapon like the Liberator. It's a single shot. It's gotta be pretty inaccurate with that short unrifled barrel. It's completely useless for self-defense. It's pretty handy for assassination, but it has no other purpose.
                    Enjoy.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Norm dePlume View Post
                      Everyone is avoiding the constitutionality question so far.
                      Well, if what you're really asking is the more philosophical question about whether I have a right to own a gun that some government authority cannot detect easily, then I would have to say that yes, I do have a right to own a gun that the government cannot detect. Lots and lots of "conventional" guns already are relatively un-detectible. A disassembled Glock, in several pieces in luggage, would almost certainly not be detected by the TSA, and even if it were, there's nothing in the world illegal about transporting a disassembled weapon when it is in separate containers.

                      A further philosophical extension of of this question would be: does the government have the absolute right to be able to determine if I have a weapon? And the answer is "no." No more so than they have to determine if I grow, cure, and consume my own tobacco. Or marijuana, AFAIC (at least at the federal level; even though I would oppose legalizing pot in Tennessee, I don't really have any opposition to someone who grows their own pot and uses it themselves in their own home and it harms no one else).
                      Bask in the warmth of the Deep South
                      No one will be denied:
                      Big law suits and bathroom toots;
                      We're all getting Dixie-fried.
                      But somewhere Hank and Lefty
                      Are rollin' in their graves
                      While kudzu vines grow over signs that read "Jesus Saves."

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I can actually think of a practical application of this that doesn't involve intent to break any law except those which unconstitutionally (albeit the courts have failed to recognize this) infringe on the right to keep and bear.

                        There are now laws that make it a criminal act to modify a toy gun to look like a real gun (by removing the orange plastic band), because criminals were doing so in order to commit what appeared to be (but actually legally was not) armed robbery.

                        What if someone manufactured an all-plastic handgun that HAD the orange band, and so appeared to be a toy, but was really designed for concealed carry? Then if you got stopped with it in a no-issue state like California (yes, I know it's technically a "may-issue" state. Be my guest trying to get a permit.), you could say, "hey, look, it's a toy." Of course, a really close look would prove you wrong, but....
                        "Think as I think," said a man,
                        "Or you are abominably wicked;
                        You are a toad."
                        And after I had thought of it,
                        I said: "I will, then, be a toad." - Stephen Crane

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I think that's the first time I've seen the constitutionality of a law referred to as a philosophical question.
                          Enjoy.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Norm dePlume View Post
                            I think that's the first time I've seen the constitutionality of a law referred to as a philosophical question.
                            Ultimately, all questions of law are philosophical, are the not?
                            "Think as I think," said a man,
                            "Or you are abominably wicked;
                            You are a toad."
                            And after I had thought of it,
                            I said: "I will, then, be a toad." - Stephen Crane

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I think it becomes unconstitutional when it starts to making exemptions for weapons manufactured for federal government and its agencies.

                              The original intent of the 2nd was to make available to the militia weapons that could be used for the common defense of the country should the need arise.
                              This was part of the SC decision in Miller. Wiki link to Miller.
                              We are so fucked.

                              Comment

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