Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Mythical Plastic Gun

When Glock began exporting polymer framed pistols into the United States in the mid-80’s, the hysteria (and misinformation) caught like wildfire. With the media and anti-Second politicians throwing gasoline onto the fire, the public envisioned a scenario where hijackers could sneak undetectable weapons onto airplanes. Unfortunately as we learned on September 11th, all it takes is a couple of box cutters to hijack an airliner – no firearms needed. As a result, the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 was passed and then renewed in 2004 Public Law No: 108-174. Fortunately the NRA had some input into the scope of the bill, otherwise the Glock, Springfield XD, and any other polymer framed firearm would most likely be currently illegal.

Even after the passage of the passage of the 1988 act, "plastic guns" remained at the forefront of public consciousness. Die Hard 2 in 1990 featured villains armed with "Glocks" that would pass right through a metal detector without setting it off (in lines dutifully spoon-fed to the movie going world by the normally very pro-Second Bruce Willis):

"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, and it cost more than you make here in a month."

Notice by 1990 we’ve moved from "plastic" to "porcelain" – that must have been the next planned target. "Plastic guns" are even mentioned during the arguments in the landmark Heller case. Yet one key fact seems to elude the public and many politicians – there is no, and never has been, a commercially produced all plastic or porcelain firearm, not from Glock, not from anyone else.

In fact, the Glocks that started the furory had enough metal in them to light up a metal detector like a Christmas tree (not to mention you need metallic cased ammo). While the frame may be polymer based, the mechanical components of the firearm including the slide, barrel, and nearly all of the firing components are steel. So even if you couldn’t pick up the frame on a metal detector or x-ray, all of the other components would not only be easily detectable, but detectable as gun components. Furthermore, the polymer used to manufacture the gun also opaque on an x-ray, so they show up quite readily going through airport scanners as well.

So why the furory? In many ways it represents an extension of the classic wedge strategy used by the anti-Second crowd to incrementally infringe the Second Amendment by creating phantom threats and legislating them away. As usual, the U.S. government (CIA and law enforcement) are not subject to such regulation, nor does U.S. regulation carry an ounce of weight with forces hostile to our nation. Ultimately "plastic guns", "cop killers" and other mythical firearms serve as a convenient point of attack in a larger strategy, and that larger strategy is to disarm the American public. If they can’t make inroads attacking "real" threats – they’ll invent them to drag the public along.

Until next time!


Andy said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

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Fingolfen said...

Thanks for stopping by! Let me know if you have any suggestions for future articles. I try to keep a mix of 2nd Amendment issues, politics, and general firearm goodness going...