Sen. Schumer's Magical Legislative Forcefield Against 3D-Printed Guns

Sen. Charles SchumerSen. Charles Schumer (D-Any
Television Camera), dedicated foe of private ownership of firearms,
is deeply concerned that the Undetectable Firearms
will sunset on December 9, 2013. He also thinks simply
renewing the law once again is insufficient to deal with the Dread
Scourge™ of 3D-printed plastic firearms that will soon be coming to
a playground near you unless much tougher restrictions are imposed.
His magical belief that just one more law will stop people from
printing whatever they damned well please in the privacy of their
workshops is a tad baffling—unless you realize that, after so many
years in government, he’s basically nuts.

The Hill
quotes Schumer as saying
, “The House bill is better than
nothing, but it’s not good enough. We absolutely must close the
loophole that allows anyone to legally make a gun that could be
rendered invisible by the easy removal of its metal part.” This
echoes a comment the senator made
last month

“3D printers are a miraculous technology that have the potential
to revolutionize manufacturing, but we need to make sure they are
not being used to make deadly, undetectable weapons.  By
attaching an extension of this bill to one of the several must pass
pieces of legislation, we can prevent an explosion of these silent

His press release continues:

The existing law, the Undetectable Firearms Act, expires on
December 9th, 2013. Once expired, it will be perfectly legal to
print, sell, or carry a 3D plastic gun like any other gun. If the
legislation is not renewed, individuals will be able to easily
carry a 3D plastic gun through a metal detector and gain access to
an airplane, school, sporting event, courthouse or other government

The temptation is to assume that Schumer doesn’t understand the
technology of 3D printing. Perhaps he believes printers are three
stories high, sit on street corners emitting clouds of steam, and
fire flares in the air when they produce objects he doesn’t

In fact, though, it’s abvious that a leading contender for the
most annoying man in the United States Senate doesn’t understand
law. He thinks passing legislation through Congress, and
then getting it signed by the president, is equivalent to altering
gravity or the speed of light. Pass another bill, he suggests, and
manufacturing plastic guns will then become not just illegal, but

This, needless to say, is not true. If nothing else, we may
finally have evidence that spending too long in public office
actually causes insanity. Years of ranting and unwatched Sunday
morning TV appearances really can lead people to believe that laws
have special powers beyond people’s agreement, or at least their
willingess to comply when in view of enforcers.

But the wonder and promise of 3D printers, as with so much
modern technology, is its small-scale and private nature. Once you
have a printer in your possession, it’s really impossible to tell
what you’re using it for. Even the materials they use are generic.
Are you using ABS plastic to print pistols? Or lawn gnomes? Who the
hell knows?

If somebody wants to print and “carry a 3D plastic gun through a
metal detector,” the Undetectable Firearms Act simply won’t play a
role in the matter. Good people won’t pose a threat to others
whether or not the law is on the books, and bad people won’t be
deterred by the law. Under the circumstances, the good people may
be thankful they can sneak their plastic guns through, too, in
order to deal with any predators who show up.

But Schumer seems unlikely to agree. He’s fully invested in his
belief that laws have magical powers, and can actually change
what’s possible in the world. If anybody can disabuse him of that
notion, it might save us all a lot of hassle.

from Hit & Run

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