A pair of democratic lawmakers this week reintroduced legislation to ban 3D printed guns.
United States Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass) announced on Tuesday the return of the “3D Printed Gun Safety Act,” a bill that would ban the online distribution of blueprints and instructions for the printing of three-dimensional firearms.
“With the click of a mouse, anyone with an internet connection and a 3D printer essentially has a license to print, shoot and kill,” said Sen. Menendez in a press release obtained by GunsAmerica.
“Undetectable and untraceable 3D printed guns allow criminals to circumvent law enforcement and commit crimes,” he continued. “That’s why we must close the ‘3D Gun Loophole’ that allows dangerous individuals to exploit gaps in existing law to manufacture firearms at home they cannot otherwise legally obtain.”
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Congressman Ted Deutch (D-Fla.-22) is introducing a companion version in the House.
“3D printers are increasingly used to manufacture everyday goods easily and cheaply; but, we cannot allow individuals to make deadly firearms with the same ease,” said Congressman Deutch.
“These printers are capable of making high-strength plastic firearms that are untraceable and undetectable – something criminals and other individuals prohibited by law from possessing a firearm could use to evade our laws,” he continued. “Congress must take care to ensure that internet access does not equal gun access.”
Fear over 3D printed guns is largely overblown, as USA Today reported back in 2018. Between the high costs of the printers, the relative weakness of the plastics frequently used, and the ease at which criminals can currently obtain conventionally manufactured guns on the street, they are not the emergent threat anti-gun politicians make them out to be. In fact, there is no data to back up the implication that they are frequently — if ever — used in the commission of crimes.
Mark Oliva, the director of public affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association, told GunsAmerica via email that the reintroduction of this bill is an attempt to “criminalize what has been a legal activity for law-abiding Americans since before the founding of our nation.”
“[Sen. Menendez] He’s not content with demonizing those who exercise their Constitutional right to keep and bear arms, he’s actively seeking new ways to criminalize it,” Oliva explained.
Oliva noted that there are plenty of federal laws on the books that ban felons and other prohibited persons from possessing firearms, that outlaw transferring firearms to known criminals, and that prevent those in the business of creating firearms from doing so without a federal license. In short, firearms and the business of making firearms for profit are heavily regulated.
Oliva went on to say that, “It is perfectly legal for those who obey the law to create their own firearm for their personal use. It has always been this way. The laws to hold criminals accountable exists. What’s missing is the willingness by Senator Menendez to hold those criminals responsible for their crimes instead of creating a new category of criminal activity from what is perfectly legal today.”
The “3D Printed Gun Safety Act” will now head to committees in both the House and Senate for possible consideration. Stay tuned for updates.