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Public Statements

Ban on Undetectable Firearms

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, it is gratifying that Congress is finally acting to renew one of the Nation's essential protections against terrorism.

The Undetectable Firearms Act-also known as the "plastic gun" law-makes it illegal to manufacture, import, possess, or transfer a firearm that is not detectable by walk-through metal detectors or airport x-ray machines. Only firearms necessary for certain military and intelligence uses are exempt.

This law was first enacted in 1988, long before the attacks on 9/11, and it is more important than ever now. It has been extended once since it was first enacted, but it is scheduled to expire on December 10th. Its expiration would result in Americans in all parts of the Nation becoming needlessly vulnerable to gun violence in airlines, airports, schools, office buildings, and many other places, and even to terrorist attacks.

The technology of gun manufacturers has significantly improved since the 1980's-and the determination of terrorists to attack Americans has soared. We know that terrorists are exploiting the weaknesses and loopholes in our gun laws. In 2000, a member of the Middle East terrorist group Hezbollah was convicted in Detroit on gun charges and conspiracy to ship guns and ammunition to Lebanon. He had purchased many of those weapons at gun shows in Michigan. In the war in Afghanistan, American soldiers discovered a terrorist training manual entitled "How Can I Train Myself for Jihad" in a house in that country. One part of the manual stated: "In other countries, e.g. some states of USA . . . it is perfectly legal for members of the public to own certain types of firearms. If you live in such a country, obtain an assault rifle legally . . . learn how to use it properly and go and practice in the areas allowed for such training."

Last month, I introduced a bill, S. 1774, to renew the Undetectable Firearms Act and repeal the sunset provision. The bill now before us, H.R. 3348, extends the sunset provision for another 10 years. The danger to security from undetectable firearms won't sunset, and the law that bans them shouldn't sunset either. Nevertheless, I am encouraged that Congress is taking action, and I look forward to the renewal of this gun ban being signed into law.

This measure is only one of several steps that Congress should take to protect our citizens from gun violence. We also need to strengthen criminal background checks for gun purchases under the Brady Law, renew the assault weapons ban, and close the "gun show loophole" once and for all. Each of these gun-safety measures is needed to protect our people in communities across the country. I urge my colleagues to support the pending bill, and to act on these other vital measures as well.

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