EXTENSION OF UNDETECTABLE FIREARMS ACT OF 1988 FOR 10 YEARS
Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 3626, which will extend by 10 years the authorization of the Undetectable Firearms Act, a statute which is in effect through December 9 of this year.
The Undetectable Firearms Act prohibits the import, manufacture, sale, transport, or possession of firearms that are undetectable by metal detectors or x ray machines. Signed into law by President Reagan in 1988, this statute remains critical to public safety.
The law helps protect us from firearms that are undetectable by some of the most conventional means of firearms detection. The law prevents the commercial production and proliferation of such weapons that could be used either by individuals or organized terrorist groups seeking to commit crimes in secure areas, such as courthouses or airplanes. Unfortunately, the need for such protection has grown in recent years.
This statute was originally authorized for 10 years, and subsequently reauthorized for periods of 5 and then another 10 years. The authorization of this prohibition has been incremental because Congress recognized that technology would evolve, and that we may need to update the statute to maintain its effectiveness. In fact, this is what has transpired.
The current law has a critical loophole that may enable and encourage the production of firearms that may escape detection. Under the statute, someone may produce a plastic firearm which is detectable only because it has as metal component--which is not essential for the operation of the firearm--but is easily removable by a firearm user seeking to avoid detection.
In fact, some designs made available on the Internet to assist the manufacture of such guns using 3-D printers include just such a feature. We need to strengthen the law to address this obvious problem, and we should adopt the Undetectable Firearms Act modernization proposal sponsored by the gentleman from New York (Mr. Israel).
He is proposing that the statute be updated to require that the metal which makes a firearm detectable be included in the essential components of the firearm so that, if removed, the gun would not operate. This is a simple and effective means of addressing the problem.
While I support the reauthorization of the Undetectable Firearms Act for 10 years, a 10-year extension should not be interpreted as an agreement that the statute should remain unchanged for that entire term. We need to work quickly to update the law, but it does not appear that we will be able to do that in the time left before the statute's expiration. However, we cannot allow the law to expire and the existing--even if imperfect--protections to lapse.
Finally, with the continued toll of gun violence on our communities, Congress must act immediately on other measures to strengthen our gun laws. We are nearing the first anniversary of the killing of 20 students and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. While such tragic mass shootings bring increased attention to the problem of gun violence, we must recognize that the scope of the problem is much greater; an average of over 30 people a day are murdered with firearms in America.
However, during this Congress, the House has taken no steps to address the problem. The Judiciary Committee has held no hearings, and has not even considered any of the other measures which have been proposed to make us safer from gun violence. For example, we must make a priority of extending the Brady Act to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals, and we should take action on H.R. 1565, the Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act, which would expand the Brady background check requirement to firearms sold at gun shows and through commercial advertisements.
We should also consider bills such as H.R. 1318, the Youth PROMISE Act, designed to promote proven crime prevention strategies. With respect to the bill before us today, I commend the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Coble) for introducing the measure to extend the term of the current statute. The Undetectable Firearms Act continues to help protect public safety, and we should reauthorize it while also working to update and improve it without delay. I, therefore, urge my colleagues to support H.R. 3626.