Lawmakers try to regulate 3D gun printing

BY Leah Mishkin, Correspondent |

A bill introduced in Congress Friday would make it illegal for someone to print a 3D gun until they’ve gone through a background check and registered the weapon. Congressman Frank Pallone sponsored the legislation.

“Even though we have and we do have under the second amendment a right to bear arms, that we don’t want it to be unregulated,” Pallone said.

“3D guns are undetectable. These can be made from plastics, the same plastics that make Legos, and therefore can’t be traced through a metal detector as the congressman correctly pointed out. 3D guns are untraceable they don’t have serial numbers which will make it very, very difficult for law enforcement to trace back crime guns. And 3D guns right now are unregulated,” said Bill Castner, senior advisor to Gov. Phil Murphy on firearms.

This bill is in direct response to a settlement that was reached over the summer between the federal government and Defense Distributed, a Texas-based private defense firm.

The agreement allowed the company to post 3D gun plans online, but attorney generals from several states — including New Jersey — quickly pushed back and a federal judge temporarily blocked the order.

“It’s not a permanent injunction,” Castner said. “So the underlying lawsuit has not proceeded yet. That’s why the congressman’s legislation is so imperative. This would create a permanent structure for 3D printing guns. We don’t have a settled decision yet from federal court.”

A similar New Jersey bill banning ghost guns, or guns made using untraceable components including plastic guns made by a 3D printer, was recently sent to the governor’s desk.

“Interestingly, in the Senate it passed unanimously. Not a single Republican voted against this legislation on Monday. In the general Assembly, which has a body of 80 Assembly members, only five Republicans voted no. So it shows you, it shows you that common sense gun safety legislation can get bipartisan support,” said Castner.

New Jersey Second Amendment Society President Alexander Roubian says there is nothing common sense about the proposed legislation because it’s based on misinformation.

“All that’s doing is adding hoops and hurdles for law abiding citizens. The criminals are not going to abide by that,” he said.

The National Rifle Association’s Executive Director Chris Cox issued the statement: “… undetectable plastic guns have been illegal for 30 years. Federal law passed in 1988, crafted with the NRA’s support, makes it unlawful to manufacture, import, sell, ship, deliver, possess, transfer, or receive an undetectable firearm.”

“If you 3D print a gun, you use the palmer plastics from the 3D printer, but you need to use some certain metal components that make it detectable,” Roubian said.

Roubian says the Defense Distributed debate is a matter of first amendment rights violations.

“They’re trying to control the types of files and information that we’re either reading about on the internet or getting access to and downloading to our desktops,” he said.

“New Jersey has among the strictest gun violence prevention laws in the country, and not coincidentally we have among the lowest per capita gun violence deaths in the country. This is not complicated,” Castner said.

Defense Distributed did not return requests to comment.