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GOP unlikely to block ban on plastic guns

| Friday, Dec. 6, 2013, 8:51 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Legislation to ban plastic guns that can't be detected by metal detectors could head to the White House for President Obama's signature on Monday night, hours before the ban expires at midnight.

Senate Republicans appear unlikely to object when Democrats seek unanimous consent to extend for 10 years the ban on the manufacture, possession and sale of the plastic firearms. The House passed the measure on Tuesday by voice vote.

Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over firearms issues, supports the House-passed bill, according to spokeswoman Beth Levine.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on Friday he plans to separately propose expanding the law to require that all firearms have integral metal components detectable by X-ray machines.

Schumer and other Democrats are concerned about the use of commercially available 3-D printing technology that can produce guns from digital models.

“What we believe is the best proposal is to say there has to be a piece of metal that's part of the gun that's not removable, a significant part of the gun, the trigger, the barrel, the handle, stuff like that,” Schumer said.

If some senator objects to that proposal, “we will then move the 10-year extension, which is better than nothing, and then work when we come back in January to plug this loophole,” Schumer said.

Grassley issued a statement indicating Senate Republicans haven't examined Schumer's proposal and won't agree to it.

“The Senate Democratic leadership waited until the last minute to address the expiring plastic gun law, and they are attempting to add matters that are untried and untested and don't have consensus,” Grassley said. “Before making changes to current law, Congress needs to gain a better understanding of printed gun manufacturing technology and its relation to permanent metal parts.”

Grassley said the Senate's best option is for the Senate to simply clear the House-passed bill.

The ban on plastic guns under the Undetectable Firearms Act dates back to 1988 and was first signed into law by President Reagan, with renewals reauthorized by Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush.

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