Oppose the Useless Undetectable Firearms Act

GOA to Key Vote “NO” on Undetectable Firearms Act

Biden’s “Frame or Receiver” rule shows how this statute could be weaponized to outlaw guns with plastic parts.

Sometimes it takes decades for a poorly drafted anti-gun law to rise up and bite you. The 1968 gun ban for “mental defectives” sat around for 25 years before an anti-gun Clinton administration decided to use it to disarm more than 250,000 law-abiding veterans who had never been before a court. The Obama Administration approved pistol braces and 40,000,000 were manufactured and sold before President Biden decided to ban them. The “plastic gun ban” is another massive time bomb in federal law. It will be reauthorized permanently in the Senate National Defense Authorization Act—if Congress doesn’t stop it.

Background Information on this Outdated and Ineffective Statute

Unless it existed before December 10, 1988, the plastic gun ban absolutely bans any gun that is not as detectable in a “walk-through metal detector” as a Security Exemplar.[i] In addition, every “major component” of every firearm has to pass through an airport x-ray in such a way that its shape is “accurately” depicted.[ii]

The “Security Exemplar” is a piece of metal that the ATF uses to calibrate how much steel a manufacturer needs to put in the gun to make it beep in the metal detector.  Other than the fact that it has to contain 3.7 ounces of steel and look sort of like a gun, anti-gun Attorney General Merrick Garland can determine, by regulatory fiat, the characteristics of the Exemplar. He can determine whether you test guns with a “top flight” metal detector—or a crummy one. He can determine how many times (or thousands of times) a gun has to pass in order not to be banned. Check out our Minute Man Moment for more information.[iii]

Under the “Frame or Receiver” Rule, More Gun Parts Fail the “Major Components” Requirement

The statute contains a list of parts of guns which are definitely “major components.”  But one of the “major components” is the “frame or receiver of the firearm”—which the Biden Administration recently attempted to redefine to mean any gun part or parts kit.[iv]  When analyzing ATF’s proposed rule, GOA found at least 16 parts on a Glock falling within the proposed definition.[v]

If we didn’t have a President and an Attorney General who have violated and perverted the law again and again and again, gun owners might be able to rest easy.  But the language does not protect gun owners against an administration intent on destroying the Second Amendment. So, what if Attorney General Merrick Garland determines a small plastic gun part is a “receiver” and therefore an “undetectable firearm”? Well, “[i]t shall be unlawful for any person to manufacture, import, sell, ship, deliver, possess, transfer, or receive” the gun to which that gun part attaches.[vi] This statute could be weaponized into a larger gun ban than the Biden Pistol Ban—which criminalized the possession of up to 40,000,000 pistols.

This Statute’s Impact on Public Safety is Undetectable

So, for those Republicans who are talking about locking us into a permanent reauthorization of this statute that could ban lots of guns, tell them: “please don’t.” In case they’re still unconvinced, here are a few of more important points:

  • PUBLIC SAFETY FALLACY—It is simply not true that, if this statute is allowed to lapse, “killers can freely go into airports, courthouses, and schools to commit mass murder and mayhem.”
  • MYTHS ABOUT X-RAY TECHNOLOGY—Current technologies like thermal imaging, backscatter Xray, millimeter wave will pick up the images of plastic guns. So, this outdated ban is a relic that should be tossed into the ash heap of history.
  • CRIMINALS DON’T OBEY GUN LAWS—It is foolish to assume that the mass public murderers of the world—intent on committing mass murder—would somehow be deterred by a plastic gun ban. That genie is already out of the bottle.
  • PERMANENT REAUTHORIZATION IS DANGEROUS—The Undetectable Firearms Act has always needed reauthorization every few years and reauthorizing it in permanence eliminates any protections against the statutes’ weaponization.

Ultimately, victory feeds on itself.  And defeat feeds on itself.  And, if Republicans gratuitously give the anti-gun Far Left a victory without firing a shot, they will have only succeeded in bringing to life a gun control movement which has, as a chief objective, the destruction of our constitutional liberties.

The Undetectable Firearms Act, was passed in 1988 in response to no particular threat and has been useless during its 35 years of existence. On behalf of more than two million law-abiding gun owners, GOA would ask that you resist any move to reauthorize this unconstitutional legislation. GOA will score any vote in favor of reauthorizing this statute as anti-gun.

Call your Senators and tell them to vote “NO” at (202) 224-3121

[i] 18 U.S.C. 922(p)(1)(A) and (6).

[ii]  18 U.S.C. 922(p)(1)(B).

[iii] Gun Owners of America. “The ATF is Rewriting the Definition of a Firearm | MMM Ep. 32”. YouTube. July 15th, 2021.

[iv] Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. “Definition of ‘Frame or Receiver’ and Identification of Firearms”. May 21st, 2021. 86 FR 27720.

[v] Gun Owners of America. “Plastic Gun Ban – EXPLAINED”. YouTube. December 9th, 2021.

[vi] 18 U.S.C. 922(p)(1).