Legal and Regulatory

U.S. House of Representatives submits 3D Firearms Prohibition Act to congress

In the wake of the 3D printed gun debacle which reached its fever pitch in August 2018, U.S. Representative Frank Joseph Pallone Jr. has submitted a bill seeking to prohibit the digital, and physical, distribution of guns and gun parts across America.

More specifically H. R. 7115, known as the “3D Firearms Prohibition Act” seeks to:

“…prohibit the sale, acquisition, distribution in commerce, or import into the United States of certain firearm receiver castings or blanks, assault weapon parts kits, and machinegun parts kits [….]”

That also pertains to the marketing and advertising of guns, gun kits and parts “on any medium of electronic communications” and would require any homemade firearms to have serial numbers for appropriate tracing.

Though the premise of this bill is based on the 3D gun file sharing activities of sites like Defense Distributed, the actual content of the bill reaches much further than the digital realm and 3D printing, into a wider discussion about gun reform across the U.S.

Opening text of the proposed H.R. 7115 "3D Firearms Prohibition Act." Image via U.S. Congress
Opening text of the proposed H.R. 7115 “3D Firearms Prohibition Act.” Image via U.S. Congress

Breach of the Undetectable Firearms Act

The recent debate on the legalization of 3D printed guns centered on a Texas’ court’s decision to lift a ban on the activities of Defense Distributed. Founded by crypto-anarchist and gun rights activist Cody Wilson, who is currently out on bail for a charge of sexual assault of a minor, the site allowed users to download and buy the 3D files and hardware needed to produce handguns and semi-automatic rifles.

Made almost entirely out of plastic (with exception of a pin and, of course, the ammunition) these activities clashed with the terms of the Undetectable Firearms Act, and as such were quashed by an order from a federal judge in Washington.

In relation to the new bill proposition put forward by the U.S. House of Representatives, Pallone states, “Given the gun violence epidemic plaguing our communities, the last thing our country needs is an unregulated and untraceable source of lethal firearms,”

“We need sensible solutions to reduce gun violence, not AR-15s available at the stroke of a fingertip.”

Homemade assault rifles

3D printing a gun of course, still remains a highly impractical approach to acquiring a gun in the U.S. And, though proposing a resolution for “3D Firearms,” Pallone’s bill is in reality less specific than that. The details of the bill more generally relate to the homemade production of assault weapons.

It outlines the process through which a person wishing to make a gun at home can apply for a legal serial number for the device.

In addition, it suggests that, “It shall be unlawful for any person, in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, to possess or transfer a firearm made after 1968 by a person who is not a licensed manufacturer,” and calls for full background checks on any persons wishing to purchase such items.

What next for 3D Firearms?

If passed, the 3D Firearms Prohibition Act could be a landmark victory for groups seeking more stringent gun control across the country.

For this bill to succeed in becoming law, first it must gain the recognition of the presiding officers within the Morning Hour at the Senate. Then the bill will be referred for committee action, followed by floor action (including debate and a vote) before reaching conference committee. After that, the bill would be seen by the President, that already weighed-in on the argument via Twitter this summer:

The President say he is “looking into 3-D Plastic Guns.” Image via Twitter
The President say he is “looking into 3-D Plastic Guns.” Image via Twitter

Only after successfully making it through each of these steps will it become a law.

Concluding comments on the act, Congressman Pallone states:

“I cannot allow the Trump administration to endanger more of our children by appeasing the gun lobby and allowing unfettered access to weapons of war that are impossible for our law enforcement to track.”

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Featured image shows the barrel of a Defense Distributed Plastic Liberator gun after discharge. Photo by Lorenza Baroncelli