On the eve of digitally available blueprints for 3D-printable guns for almost anyone — (Pennsylvania residents are temporarily blocked) — President Donald Trump shared a head-scratcher of a tweet, and it appears to indicate his opposition to the expression of free speech.
“I am looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public,” he tweeted. “Already spoke to NRA, doesn’t seem to make much sense!”
I am looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public. Already spoke to NRA, doesn’t seem to make much sense!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 31, 2018
It’s unclear precisely what the president meant.
This much is true: 3D-printed guns can be made of plastic.
While they are not meant to be durable, they do exist.
The bulk of 3D-printed firearms, however, contain metal, as The Daily Wire and other media have noted.
If a gun (printed or otherwise) is undetectable by security scanners — made completely of plastic, for example — its manufacture is already banned until 2023 under the Undetectable Firearms Act. Guns without metal would fall into this category.
The Undetectable Firearms Act makes it a federal offense to “manufacture, import, sell, ship, deliver, possess, transfer or receive” firearms that can thwart metal detection. To that end, legally manufactured guns must contain at least 3.7 ounces of stainless steel, according to CNET.
There is some contention, though, as to whether personal use or creation technically constitutes “manufacturing.” Laws on this vary from state to state.
Further, the president specifically referenced “3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public” (emphasis added). Guns legally sold to the public go through licensed dealers; and those who purchase them must pass background checks.
Banning availability of information or data such as blueprints or downloadable files, say many First and Second Amendment advocates, runs directly afoul of freedom of speech.
Blueprints to create guns are a different matter entirely. And banning availability of information or data such as blueprints or downloadable files, say many First and Second Amendment advocates, runs directly afoul of freedom of speech.
Nine states and the District of Columbia are suing the Trump administration over allowing Texas-based company Defense Distributed to provide downloadable blueprints for 3D-printed guns.
Those states include California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington, as CNBC reported.
No one is distributing 3D-printed guns. https://t.co/LI3tFLoWPK
— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) July 31, 2018
Nearly everything you're hearing about 3D printed guns right now is false.
— Stephen Gutowski (@StephenGutowski) July 31, 2018
1. There's no imminent threat of 3D-printed guns everywhere. It's easier to buy a mass-manufactured firearm.
2. There are already hand-built guns in plenty of hands.
3. Technology moves fast; prices drop. In 10 years or so all this could be essentially impossible to regulate.
— Josh Greenman (@joshgreenman) July 31, 2018
Obama State Dept tried to morph into ATF, by stopping an American citizen from sharing gun plans on the internet. Trump State Dept dropped ridiculous case against 1st and 2nd amdts. Now someone is trying to change @realDonaldTrump’s mind at 11th hr.!https://t.co/qQm1XV7QuZ
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) July 31, 2018
Michele Blood is a Flemington, New Jersey-based freelance writer and a regular contributor to LifeZette.