As the Fourth of July and Father’s Day (you are welcome for the reminder) quickly approach, and wedding season kicks into high gear, Americans will be doing a great deal of traveling in the coming months. And, for those of you traveling and unaware of the recent ABC News report on the Transportation Security Administration (“TSA”), the next sentence may be some unfortunate news. According to the report, TSA agents at a multitude of airports around the nation failed 67 of 70 tests, with people “repeatedly able to get potential weapons through checkpoints.” That’s a 95.7% failure rate. Unsurprisingly, this has led to the swift reassignment of Melvin Carraway, the acting administrator for the TSA.

For those disconcerted by this news, at least some solace can be found in the fact that our congressmen and women are working to quell the opportunity for these security breaches. In a past blog post, I wrote about the May 2014 arrest of Yoshitomo Imura, the first Japanese citizen arrested for the printing and possession of 3D printed guns. At the end of that post, I mentioned Steve Israel, a New York congressman working on passing the Undetectable Firearms Modernization Act (“UFMA”), legislation aimed at making 3D printed plastic guns easier to detect in airport screenings. And, while my blog posts in that time have been sparse, Mr. Israel has been hard at work.

Current law prohibits entirely plastic guns, but nefarious owners can simply create guns with removable metal components. These components can be detached before going through airport security, making for a loophole in TSA barriers. UFMA seeks to close that loophole by requiring that a major component of 3D printed guns be made of metal. Unlike 3D printed guns now, which can have removable trivial parts, UFMA guns would be inoperable without the major metal component. Israel unveiled his legislation on Tuesday, June 9th, at La Guardia airport in New York.

While Israel’s effort is noble, it remains to be seen how effective this legislation will be. First, UFMA must be passed by a Congress composed of many who do not wish to expand existing plastic gun bans in the same way Israel hopes to. Second, the amount of people this legislation would deter may be very small. Those affected may be already law abiding gun users who simply wish to continue in their legitimate ways. The legislation unfortunately would not be able to disrupt one’s ability to illegally 3D print a completely plastic gun.

However, despite these obstacles, UFMA is still a step in the right direction. Not only does it bring necessary attention and awareness to this issue, but it could be a pillar on which to stack further security-aimed legislation. As Israel stated in his press conference, “It’s time to modernize our airport security so the American people can count on it again.” While it is unclear when the last time we could count on airport security actually was, the recent TSA report definitely did not help. But while the legal system may not be able to keep up with the ever-changing, ever-quickening pace of technology, it can surely be used as a barrier to stop the flow of illegality before it becomes a potentially serious problem.


Jackson Sattell


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2 Responses to Feeling Secur3D: Reintroduced Legislature Seeks to Improve Air Safety

  1. Travis Gray says:

    Good thing there are people like Mr. Israel and Mr. Sattell to bring our attention to issues like this. I for one didn’t know printing plastic guns was possible. With the advent of creative–though destructive–technologies like printed guns and (borderline humerous) things like underwear bombers, you kind of have to feel for TSA. Failing 97% of your tests is unforgivable, but TSA has to be constantly adapting for the next threat. And while I’m not thrilled with that TSA review, I was equally displeased by the hour long wait in the TSA line one week after those tests. I guess that’s just a cost of doing business.

  2. jlukasiewicz says:

    The modernization of airport security is desperately needed, However, with TSA being both a regulatory and security agency, they are allowed to create their own regulations. This allows politics to significantly affect their decision making. The future of TSA and how it reacts to developing technologies should be interesting.