Congress Makes Kirk's Cannon Illegal, Again
If you have ever watched the classic Star Trek series in real time or rerun, or been a fan of the Mythbusters, then you are well aware of Captain James Tiberius Kirk's winning move against the Captain of a Gorn ship. You know, the one where Kirk made the hand cannon out of bamboo, yellow powder, some charcoal, string, and a rock then zapped that goofy lizard dude with?
The thing is, Kirk's homemade projectile firing weapon, if made today in the US, would be illegal. Moreover, this isn't even a new concept.
The Undetectable Gun Act
In 1988, Congress had a sheep fit with the Glock 17. Someone watched a little too much Die Hard 2 and heard NYPD cop John McLane portrayed by Bruce Willis yell out,
"That punk pulled a Glock 7 on me. You know what that is? It's a porcelain gun made in Germany. It doesn't show up on your airport X-ray machines here and it costs more than what you make in a month!"
Needless to point out, there A) is no such thing as a Glock 7, B) No part of it is porcelain, C) its made in Austria, not Germany, D) it does show up on x-ray machine, and E) is rather economical.
But pshaw, why get the facts involved here.
Anyways, the United States Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 (18 U.S.C. 922(p) was enacted and "makes it illegal to manufacture, import, sell, ship, deliver, possess, transfer, or receive any firearm that is not as detectable by walk-through metal detection as a security exemplar containing 3.7 oz. of steel, or any firearm with major components that do not generate an accurate image before standard airport imaging technology."
Of course, modern metal detectors of the sort used in airports and courthouses can pick up pieces of (even non-ferrous) metal as small as a paperclip or the foil insert inside a pack of cigarettes. Items do not have to be magnetic; only contain trace amounts of metals to set off alarms and x-rays. Ever heard of a thing called a bullet? Well unless you make those out of plastic too, including the case, it's going to set off an alarm as well.
Anyway, this brilliantly thought out response to a problem that did not exist outside of the Die Hard 2 script (are sequels ever as good as the original?), was set to expire on December 9, 2013. So,
Let's renew it!
On December 2, 2013, the Hose introduced H.R. 3626: "To extend the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 for 10 years." The Honorable Rep Howard Coble (R-NC6) sponsored the bill. It swept through the House like a lobbyist with free passes to Atlantis the next day. Faster than you can say, "Dammit Jim, I'm a Doctor, not a politician," it passed the Senate and was conferred to the President's able desk. With more speed than Spock's average chess move, HR3626 was signed into law on December 9, 2013. It will now be illegal to make undetectable firearms in the US until no less than 2024. And the world breathed a sigh of relief.
Even with little to no traction on fixing the economy (what, Sequestration, me worry?) or healthcare (that Obama-care stuff seems just ticket), or curbing the power of the NSA (I feel my emails being read now); it is amazing that this ludicrous law is what propels Congress to speedy, and bipartisan, action. Only 4% of the 10,000 bills admitted to Congress every year ever make it to being a law and this is one of that tiny fraction.
What this will do
Practical all-plastic, or wooden, or Styrofoam, or bamboo firearms are still very much a myth. Sure, one-time wonders can be made that might be safe enough to get a shot off from, but the thing is they are just that: single shot weapons. The average crook can get a pot-metal .25 or .380 within a few phone calls for less than $100-- and it will probably fire more than once. Of course you can always play the 'but what if they can get it past metal detectors and into a courtroom, Congress, airport, etc.'
This, too, is silly. Sure, you can get a 3-D printed gun like Cody Wilson's Liberator in past a magnetometer-- minus its striker, you know, the thing that makes the round go off, but both the metal detector and any subsequent x-ray of packages, cases, would certainly pick up the ammunition. Thus, its as implausible as Kirk's perfect hair.
This leads us of course to ask the obvious question of, how will we legally stop the Gorn if ever placed in a similar situation?
Beam us up, Scotty. There is no intelligent life down here.