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During the latter part of 1988, Senator Howard Metzenbaum (D-OH) and Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) intended to improve airport security. It set a limit on the minimum amount of steel a handgun could contain to ensure that it would be readily detectable.
It also would have given discretionary power to unelected bureaucrats to change the definition of "not readily detectable" as applied to handguns and airport security equipment.
The gun which started all of this nonsense is the Austrian made Glock 17. It is a semi-automatic 9 mm pistol which is 83% steel by weight (19 ounces). The lower half of the pistol, the receiver, is mostly a polymer material. This results in a durable, lightweight pistol. Even though the pistol has a large amount of polymer in its construction, it still looks like a pistol under airport x-ray equipment. Astrophysics Research Corp., the world's largest manufacturer of x-ray security screening equipment and the manufacturer of the units currently used at over 90% of U.S. airports, in a response to Representative Mario Biaggi (D-NY) stated, "Fully assembled, the Glock 17 looks exactly like any other automatic pistol when viewed on the television monitor of our Linescan airport x-ray security machine. Further, it causes our Mark 100 Metal Detector to alarm at the normal setting just as any other pistol does. When the Glock 17 is broken down into its three basic components...all three components are still visible and identifiable on the television monitor of the x-ray system by a trained security operator. In all tests, the Glock 17 was x-rayed while inside a standard briefcase with a normal amount of paper (approximately 1" thick) and other items usually found in a briefcase. Even the plastic frame shows clearly.
The compromise bill that was finally passed requires that all handguns manufactured and sold in this country have enough metal in them to insure that they generate a sharp x-ray image. Contrary to what the news media chose to report, this legislation was passed with the full support and cooperation of the NRA.