FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Battle Over Invisible Guns

by CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI

It was exciting-the news about banning invisible guns.  Of course they are only invisible when they’re going through machines meant to detect them.  They are not invisible if they are used to shoot people.  But what made it especially exciting was that the news came just as we all thought Congress was not going to do anything between now and the end of the year.  It was probably silly of us to think that since everyone knows people in Congress were elected to do something even though the folks elected sometimes have trouble deciding what it is.

Thus it was that no sooner did the Senate get back to Washington after its Thanksgiving vacation, with citizens hoping it would do something constructive during the last few days it was in Washington, than it became known that it intended to take advantage of procedural rules in order to postpone the inevitable. Republican senators acted to slow down the approval of 76 nominations made by the president. Because of the change in the senate procedural rules that eliminate the filibuster the nominees are guaranteed eventual approval.  By stalling the approval Republican senators give the impression that they are being busy even though all they are in fact doing is delaying the inevitable.  They were not, however, completely inactive.  They extended one significant piece of legislation. It pertained to guns.

As followers of such things know, everyone with a computer and a half way decent 3_D printer can make a perfectly useable gun.  The gun can be made entirely out of plastic thus enabling its owner to go around carrying the owner’s 2d amendment friend without fear of detection, secure in the knowledge that no matter what problems are encountered, the invisible friend will help its owner ward off evil.

To prove that they were not incapable of taking any significant action, the Senate followed the lead of the House and extended for 10 years the Undetectable Firearms Act that was passed in 1988 as a very small part of 18 USC Sec. 922.  The Act banned the sale or possession of firearms that, to use layman’s terms, do not look like guns, and, in addition, do not contain enough metal to be detectable by walk through metal detectors or x-ray machines used at airports.  (How much metal is required is established by something called a “security exemplar” that the statute says will be fabricated at the direction of the Attorney General and “constructed of . . . 3.7 ounces of material type 17-4 PH stainless steel in a shape resembling a handgun.”)

Some readers are probably wondering how such a draconian piece of legislation could be enacted in the face of what must surely have been opposition from the NRA.  The answer is that there was no opposition to the extension of the act by the NRA. That’s because the Act says it is OK to make an invisible gun so long as the manufacturer includes as part of the invisible gun, a metal strip so that it is not invisible if it goes through an ex-ray machine or a metal detector with the metal strip attached.  What the law doesn’t prohibit, however, is designing the gun so the metal strip can be removed when the gun goes through a metal detector.  By removing the metal strip the gun is once again invisible.  (Going so easily from visible to invisible is the sort of thing that would have appealed to people who wrote fairy tales many years ago.)

Senator Charles Schumer doesn’t like for people to walk around carrying lethal weapons that no one can see and nothing can detect.  For that reason he wanted the act to require that 3-D printed guns include metal components that could not be removed.  His thinking was that if the metal could not be removed then the gun would no longer be invisible.  The Senator could not persuade his colleagues and that provision was not included in the extension of the Act.

In a statement before Senator Schumer’s amendment was voted on the NRA said:  “We would like to make our position clear.  The NRA strongly opposes ANY expansion of the Undetectable Firearms Act . . .. The NRA has been working for months to thwart expansion of the UFA by Senator Chuck Schumer and others.”  The NRA’s opposition to making invisible guns visible finds support in the 2d Amendment to the United States Constitution as understood by enough members of the U.S. Supreme Court to make their understanding the law of the land.  There is nothing in that amendment that suggests that citizens should not be permitted to arm themselves with invisible guns. Of course if someone were to shoot down an airplane with an invisible gun, one can be fairly confident Congress would reexamine the question to show how seriously it takes tragedies like the Newtown School shooting or our hypothetical downing of an airplane.  It would not, of course, make any changes to the law.  That’s because of the NRA and the 2d Amendment, the one misguided and the other misunderstood.

CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI is a lawyer in Boulder, Colorado. He can be e-mailed at brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu.

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Patrick Cockburn
From Paris to London: Another City, Another Attack
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Sheldon Richman
You Can’t Blame Trump’s Military Budget on NATO
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Stanley L. Cohen
The White House . . . Denial and Cover-ups
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
Farhang Jahanpour
America’s Woes, Europe’s Responsibilities
Joseph Natoli
March Madness Outside the Basketball Court
Bill Willers
Volunteerism; Charisma; the Ivy League Stranglehold: a Very Brief Trilogy
Bruce Mastron
Slaughtered Arabs Don’t Count
Ayesha Khan
The Headscarf is Not an Islamic Compulsion
Pauline Murphy
Unburied Truth: Exposing the Church’s Iron Chains on Ireland
Ron Jacobs
Music is Love, Music is Politics
Christopher Brauchli
Prisoners as Captive Customers
Robert Koehler
The Mosque That Disappeared
Franklin Lamb
Update from Madaya
Dan Bacher
Federal Scientists Find Delta Tunnels Plan Will Devastate Salmon
Barbara Nimri Aziz
The Gig Economy: Which Side Are You On?
Louis Proyect
What Caused the Holodomor?
Max Mastellone
Seeking Left Unity Through a Definition of Progressivism
Charles R. Larson
Review: David Bellos’s “Novel of the Century: the Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables”
David Yearsley
Ear of Darkness: the Soundtracks of Steve Bannon’s Films
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail