Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 11, 2016

Big Gun Ban Vote Will Mean Much Less Than It Seems

Schumer is pushing for a stronger version of a House bill banning plastic guns. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Schumer is pushing for a stronger version of a House bill banning plastic guns. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

It sounds like a big, unexpected deal: A lopsided bipartisan House majority will vote to ban a category of firearms this afternoon. In fact, the modest measure is the handiwork of Second Amendment champions, and its passage probably guarantees no expansion of gun control gets enacted in the year since the Sandy Hook schoolhouse massacre.

The legislation would extend for a decade a longstanding prohibition on the production of entirely plastic weapons. Most Republicans will support keeping the law on the books, describing their vote as evidence of the reasonableness in the gun violence debate. Most Democrats will vote “yes” as well, because the bill stands to be the only gun control measure getting close to the House floor for the foreseeable future.

But most Democrats would like the bill to do more, and most Republicans want to make sure nothing more regarding firearms gets on the legislative docket. The suspense is over which side gets its way once the bill arrives in the Senate. The mystery won’t last long, because the 1988 law is set to expire next week.

Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., the leading proponent of gun control in the Senate, has been pushing an alternative bill that would extend the statute for just one year, which he says would allow sufficient time to update the law for the coming age of sophisticated 3-D printing and the ever-expanding roster of high-tech materials.

Schumer tried to put such a bill before the Senate before Thanksgiving, but was thwarted by GOP objections. If he insists on pursuing that approach when senators return Dec. 9, a lapse in restrictions on plastic guns is guaranteed, because that Monday is also the expiration date on the law. And even if Schumer could get his more expansive version through the Senate — which looks like a long shot — it would then face some delay and a problematic future back in the House.

The current law requires that all guns be manufactured with some metal components, to ensure they can be detected by X-ray machines at airports, courthouses and other high-security places. Some plastic guns have been designed so they can be fabricated with readily detachable metal pieces, making them easy to disassemble and sneak past security checkpoints. Advocates of gun control want the law rewritten to say that the metal parts on plastic guns must be non-removable, which would make such weapons more difficult to make with the help of 3-D printers.

Firearms makers and their Republican allies say plastic weapons are a tiny niche that hasn’t grown to become a legitimate public safety threat, and say that changing the statute would burden the gun industry.

Given the impending deadline, the complexity of the back story and the eagerness of so many lawmakers to claim a few modest achievements before the end of the year, the Second Amendment crowd looks likely to prevail in the argument by ceding to the small bill. And if that happens, it will mark an undefeated streak for gun rights advocates in a year that was supposed to be the most challenging for them in decades.

Dec. 14 marks the anniversary of when 20-year-old Adam Lanza — armed with weapons obtained legally — shot and killed his mother, then 20 children and six adult staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. He then killed himself. It was the second deadliest mass shooting by a single person in American history. But an intense effort by President Barack Obama to win expanded background checks and curbs on big ammunition clips foundered in the Senate in April. Additional efforts — including a campaign orchestrated by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., the victim of a 2012 assassination attempt — have led nowhere.

  • ad

    So murdering someone, and stealing their guns is legal possession?

    • Chipsterr

      What’s that old cliche…. possesion is nine-tenths?

  • DeepWheat

    The words “SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED” appear precisely once in any & all of our Founding Documents, from the Declaration of Independence, to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and all the subsequent Amendments adopted since 1776…

    What the HELL is so hard to understand about those four words?

    • DeepWheat

      Sen. Schumer and the rest of the gun-grabbers in Congress know the majority of Americans do not support their attempts to restrict or eliminate our God-given right to keep and bear arms…

      If they actually had genuine majority support, they’d be headed straight for a Constitutional Amendment, knowing they could pass and ratify such a measure!

      Short of that, they are reduced to S.O.P., their usual routine of back-room double-dealing and LIES, just as they used to ram ∅bamaCare through… Gr-rr-rrr!

      “Ask not what your TEA Party can do for you…
      Ask instead what you can do for your TEA Party.” ~ DeepWheat

      “Our freedom is not for sale, and we reserve the right to defend it from theft.” ~ Doctor Zero

    • Andrew

      The NRA and your lord and savior Ronald Reagan supported this 25 year old law so do you think they are gun grabbers as well?

      • DeepWheat

        Nice attempt at deflection, Andrew… no sale.

        The 2nd Amendment says what it says, and to quote Dear Leader: “Period.”

        Wake up and smell the coffee, Andrew… by whatever dubious means it was achieved, ∅bama’s election, followed by the deviously clever but ethically and morally vacuous passage of PPACA/∅bamaCare, Fast & Furious, IRS double-standards, recklessly negligent and stupefyingly feckless Benghazi LIES, and now his long, loud and extremely public LIES about ∅bamaCare (“If you like your plan, if you like your doctor…” — now doubling down with more lies even after the revelations of the FEDERAL RECORD from 2010) have awakened and ENRAGED the TEA Party/conservative Giant, and above all the details, our message is, “NO MORE, NO FURTHER.”

        Collectively, the “progressive” libocracy has played their hypocrisy as far as we’re willing to allow… Have the leftist elites learned nothing from Woodward & Bernstein’s takedown of Nixon after Watergate?? It was the lies and the coverup that destroyed him, not the penny-ante burglary that started it all!!

        Your time to reap the whirlwind is nigh. Kneel and confront your fate.

      • http://FreedomFiles.Info/ FactsNotFallacies

        Back then the technology to detect “plastic” guns didn’t exist.

        Things have changed since then and the law is kind of pointless now:

  • Chipsterr

    “… Adam Lanza — armed with weapons obtained legally — shot and killed his mother,”


    Mrs Lanza owned the weapons legally.

    Adam Lanza broke the law by obtaining them and then killing his mother.

    Nothing Adam did was legal. Nothing.

  • Leadbelly

    Much of the resistance to the expanded versions of this law are due to the intentionally vague wording used in the Democratic proposals. A prohibition on guns containing undetectable parts could be used to ban virtually every firearm ever made. Consider the wooden stock on your grandpa’s old shotgun.

  • Julian

    On what planet did Adam Lanza obtain those weapons legally? Since when is theft and murder legal?

  • Socialism: Organized Evil

    For many reasons, countries considered free are susceptible to the creeping tyranny of bureaucratic socialism that destroys liberty by confining our abilities and choices under the leaden threads of administrative restrictions.

  • JCM

    20-year-old Adam Lanza — armed with weapons obtained legally — shot and killed his mother,

    Incorrect, he committed murder and stole the weapons. He did not obtain his weapons legally.

    • Felix_Flank

      No, No I’m pretty sure he’s right. It seems like I was just reading something about congress legalizing murder, but only if you murdered the person with the intention of taking their firearms and then going on to a further rampage.

      Oh wait, I guess I didn’t read that. Probably because its insane.

  • JeffersonSpinningInGrave

    I wouldn’t say the civilian disarmament movement struck out this year, unless you mean just on the Federal level (where they did largely strike out).

    They did considerable damage in CT, NY, NJ, MD, CO, CA, and other states, damage that will take a long time to repair.

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