CNN: The Senate voted unanimously on Monday to renew a 10-year ban on guns that cannot be picked up by metal detectors commonly found in airports, court houses and government buildings.
The law, which prohibits firearms made mostly of plastic, was set to expire at day's end.
It had drawn renewed attention recently due to its pending expiration and the advent of mainly non-metalic handguns produced by 3-D printers.
The House acted last week, and now the measure goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.
In a world where bottles of shampoo are perceived as a serious danger of terrorism, an undetectable firearm ban was really a no-brainer. And the current guns are undetectable, despite a steel fig leaf designed to create a loophole in law. "Currently, plastic guns made using 3-D printers comply with the law by inserting a removable metal block," CNN reports. "That has led to worries plastic guns could pass through metal detectors without being flagged by simply removing the block."
Of course, not everyone's happy. While the NRA has remained wisely mum on this common sense and noncontroversial ban, the more strident and extremist gun nuts haven't been as quiet.
Bloomberg News: Mike Hammond, legislative counsel for the Gun Owners of America, a gun-advocacy group in Springfield, Virginia, said the technology is now widely available, making a plastic-gun ban unnecessary.
“The genie’s out of the bottle,” Hammond said.
Individuals who intend to break the law will not be deterred by a ban on plastic materials, he said. “It’s stupid to think it would make any difference.”
This "people will break the law anyway" argument has always struck me as the most logically weak of all gun lobby arguments -- so much so that it always catches me off guard when someone actually makes it to me. I find myself wondering if they're making it because they think I'm dumb and hope to trick me or if it's the fact that they're so dumb they can't see the obvious flaw.
Hammond's argument can be made against any banned substance or controlled item, of course, from methamphetamine to improvised explosive devices. Laws against these things don't stop people from making them or using them, so by the gun lobby's argument, these things shouldn't be illegal at all. People should be allowed to cook and sell meth even in school zones and wear suicide bomb vests on passenger flights. The law doesn't make it impossible to do these things, so it's somehow absurd to suggest making them illegal.
In fact, if we apply this reasoning universally, then rape, murder, and theft should all be totally legal, for the same reasons. The only laws congress should ever pass are those that are impossible to break -- no going faster than the speed of light! -- and, of course, those laws would be completely unnecessary.
What laws banning substances and items do are to take dangerous people -- along with their contraband -- off the street and put them behind bars. When we find out someone's running a meth manufacturing operation, we can shut it down. When someone's planning to blow up a plane with an IUD, we can move in and stop them. These things happen all the time, proving the "law is powerless to stop it" argument is a bunch of fatalistic horsecrap. If we can't possibly stop people from breaking the law, how is it that we manage to do it over and over and over?
And the big blow to the pro-guns-everywhere crowd in this law is that it proves that even many teabaggers in congress don't really believe this bad argument. Here we have a law banning a specific gun, passed because congress doesn't want people to be able to sneak a gun through a metal detector -- and obviously they believe that law can be used to prevent that. A vote against renewing the ban would be ridiculously pro-criminal, pro-terrorist, and pro-assassin. A vote for this ban is a vote for the fact that gun restrictions can reduce gun crimes.
In short, it's a vote against the "gun laws can't stop criminals" argument.
Unfortunately, the House GOP decided to cast their votes in the most cowardly way possible -- by a voice vote, so names wouldn't be attached to votes. The only way to know if a rep voted for or against the ban is to wait for them to tell you. And a lot of them won't, in large part because that vote proves one of their favorite arguments against gun control is a lie and that they don't actually believe it.
So again we return to that question: when a Republican congress critter makes the "laws can't stop criminals" argument, are they lying or stupid? Given the way the plastic gun ban turned out, the odds lean toward "lying."
[photo via Statesman.com]