The Senate approved a 10-year extension of a ban on plastic guns Monday, but chose not to adopt Sen. Chuck Schumer's proposal to tighten rules on guns created with 3-D printers.
"Science fiction has become a reality," the New York Democrat said of the evolving technology of 3-D printers, which can produce firearms that pose a "mortal danger to our safety."
Schumer also cited a "dangerous loophole" in the bill that would allow individuals to remove metal parts from plastic guns to prevent detection.
"A weapon that fires a bullet can, in fact, not have any metal in it and therefore evade traditional detection devices," said Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., who supports Schumer's proposal. "You can imagine the havoc that could be wrought on secure areas. ... We've simply go to update the law with the technology."
But the Senate did not agree with Schumer and his colleagues. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, objected to Schumer's request for the Senate to immediately pass his bill by unanimous consent. Grassley said that Schumer’s bill had not been debated in committee, and asked for more time to consider the measure on its merits.
"Supporters of an alternative proposal that has not been shown to be effective, technologically feasible, properly drafted or able to pass the House deliberately bypassed a responsible process,” Grassley said of Schumer's proposal.
The Senate did pass an extension on the Undetectable Firearms Act, the current law addressing plastic guns, just hours before it expired. First passed in 1988 and extended twice with bipartisan support since, the ban would have expired Monday had the Senate not acted. The House already approved an extension.
Schumer and his supporters insisted that his proposal has nothing to do with gun control, but is instead a "common sense" initiative to protect the public from undetectable plastic guns.
"You can be the most fervent believer in the Second Amendment, and the amendment we propose does not interfere with anyone's right to have a gun," Schumer said on the Senate floor. "We have no ulterior motive. Our only goal is to make sure [plastic guns] can not be brought into airports" and other public areas.