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Meese's Holdup of Bill Banning Plastic Guns Is Laid to NRA Lobby

October 22, 1987|From the Washington Post

WASHINGTON — An intense lobbying effort by the National Rifle Assn. has derailed, at least temporarily, legislation being considered by the Reagan Administration to ban so-called "plastic guns" that can escape detection by security equipment, NRA officers and Administration sources said.

The effort to block the legislation was directed at Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III and Vice President George Bush, among others, the sources said.

A package of gun control legislation that included the plastic guns measure already had been approved by top officials at the Justice Department and the Treasury Department, which is responsible for enforcing gun laws, sources said.

Bill Withdrawn

But, after lobbying by the politically potent rifle association, the legislation was withdrawn by Meese last week from final consideration at the Office of Management and Budget, the sources said.

Justice Department spokesman Patrick S. Korten said that the bill was "pulled back" and "put on hold" pending a meeting with the NRA and law enforcement groups to discuss whether a compromise measure can be achieved.

Police groups and others backing the legislation are attempting to prevent the spread of weapons that have low metal content and are primarily made of plastic. They argue that terrorists could use the weapons to avoid triggering metal detectors and X-ray security machines used in airports and elsewhere.

Stephen E. Garmon, deputy director of the U.S. Secret Service, testified in July in support of a similar measure introduced by Sen. Howard M. Metzenbaum (D-Ohio).

Two guns currently being manufactured contain less than 8.5 ounces of steel, which is the minimum metal content required in the proposed legislation. The NRA argues that the weapons can still be detected by existing equipment.

The NRA had sought Bush's aid in blocking the legislation. Bush has frequently insisted that he opposes gun control legislation and in a speech last year said: "Whatever the good intentions, depriving Americans of their constitutional right to keep and bear arms is wrong."

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