WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Jack Reed joined with several U.S. Senators in urging President Trump to reverse his Administration’s recent decision to allow a Texas company, Defense Distributed, to disseminate blueprints for untraceable, undetectable, downloadable, 3D-printed guns online.  Senator Reed and his colleagues are also introducing legislation to prohibit publishing with intent a digital file that programs a 3D printer to automatically manufacture a firearm.

For years, Defense Distributed was effectively blocked from posting online their arsenal of blueprints for 3D printable guns by the Justice Department, which argued that doing so would violate federal export controls.  However, earlier this month, the Trump Administration reversed course and reached a settlement to allow the public posting of blueprints to make a 3D firearm.

The Giffords Gun Center notes: “These 3D-printed guns—firearms built by programming a computer file into a 3D printer that manufactures items out of plastic—do not have serial numbers, so law enforcement officers cannot trace them when they are used in crimes. Because they are made of plastic, they often cannot be detected by the metal detectors used at security checkpoints in airports and other sensitive locations. And because these files will be accessible anywhere in America or around the world, they could be used by anyone—a teenager, a convicted criminal, a terrorist—to produce a firearm. While these files have been posted on corners of the internet before, this will be the first time that they are published with express federal approval, setting a dangerous precedent and potentially endangering many more lives.”

In an effort to protect public safety, Senator Reed is teaming up with U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bill Nelson (D-FL), and several colleagues in introducing legislation to ban 3D-printed “ghost” guns. 

The Untraceable Firearms Act, which is being led by Senator Blumenthal and cosponsored by Senator Reed, would subject gun kit manufacturers and distributors to the same federal regulations that govern the production and distribution of completed firearms.  The bill would require persons who assemble firearms from a receiver molding or a 3D printed receiver to have a license before selling those firearms.  This provision ensures that the end user is required to undergo a background check before purchasing a 3D-printed gun.

The Untraceable Firearms Act would also include unfinished receivers and downloadable 3D gun kits in the definition of “firearm” under federal law.  By closing this loophole, online gun kit manufacturers and distributors would be required to comply with the same federal regulations that govern the production and distribution of completed firearms.  This includes a requirement that sellers have a manufacturer’s license and put a serial number on the receiver of each kit, and purchasers undergo a background check.  The bill also incorporates the Undetectable Firearms Modernization Act, which would prohibit firearms that can be easily modified to be pass through metal detectors undetected.

The 3D Printed Gun Safety Act, which is authored by Senator Nelson and cosponsored by Reed, would restrict the publication of digital code to automatically print 3D-printed firearms.  The bill focuses specifically on “automatic” instructions—digital code that is simply downloaded and programmed into a 3D printer to produce a firearm. 

“Tomorrow, anyone with a 3D printer and access to the internet will be able to create their own—unregistered and completely untraceable—assault rifle, pistol, or shotgun. These might be homemade guns, but make no mistake about it, they are just as deadly as manufactured guns. This legislation would close loopholes and prevent our streets from being filled with these ‘ghost guns,’” said Senator Blumenthal. “This is a terrifying public safety emergency, one created because Donald Trump refuses to stand up to the NRA and caved in on a legal fight the government was winning. In the face of this dumbfounding and dangerous decision, Congress must act quickly. Failure to do so will result in a new wave of lethal violence in America.”

“Providing easy access to untraceable, unregistered, undetectable 3D-printed guns that are just a click away will be a win for criminals and domestic abusers and a menace to public safety.  Instead of allowing new loopholes aimed at circumventing state and federal laws, Congress needs to work together to counter this threat,” said Senator Reed.  “This bill is a smart step in the right direction and will subject gun kit manufacturers and distributors to the same rules as other gun producers and distributors.”

In addition to a legislative fix, attorneys general from 20 states have announced legal action against the U.S. State Department and Defense Distributed to try and force them to rescind their settlement and seeking an immediate restraining order to prevent the online publishing of digital firearm files.

Today, President Trump tweeted: “I am looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public. Already spoke to NRA, doesn’t seem to make much sense!”

However, despite President Trump’s tepid statement and tacit acknowledgment that these weapons are a serious threat to public safety, Senator Reed says action, not tweets are needed.

“I urge President Trump to put public safety first and reverse course.  He failed to take meaningful action on bump stocks, but he needs to step up and stop the spread of 3-D-printed weapons.  It is unconscionable for the Trump Administration to aid criminals, domestic abusers, and terrorists in this manner by making it easier for them to get undetectable, untraceable firearms.”

This afternoon, Senator Nelson attempted to expedite his bill for consideration by the full Senate, but was blocked when U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) objected.