Press Release

February 12, 2019
Cardin, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Block Trump Admin Push to Allow Unfettered Proliferation of Untraceable, 3D Printable Guns, Weaken Controls over Foreign Arms Sales

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) today joined Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.) in introducing legislation to block the Trump Administration’s efforts to weaken controls over foreign arms sales and allow for the unfettered proliferation of untraceable, virtually undetectable, 3D printable guns that threaten public safety.

The Trump Administration announced earlier this month that it has taken steps to transfer control of the export of semi-automatic pistols, assault-style rifles, sniper rifles and ammunition from the United States Munition List under the authority of the Department of State to the less-stringent controls of the Department of Commerce.  It would also transfer the control of the technical information and blueprints for 3D printing of nearly undetectable firearms to Commerce, where the lax regulations will facilitate the Internet publication worldwide.  These moves are also designed to strangle Congressional oversight.

“A firearm is a firearm, period. It is illogical and dangerous to make blueprints widely available so that anyone can build their own gun. Gun kit manufacturers and distributors must be held to the same regulatory standards for similar firearms,” said Sen. Cardin. “Small arms and light weapons are among the most lethal weapons that we and other countries export because these are the weapons that are most likely to be used to commit atrocities and suppress human rights, either by individuals, non-state groups, or governmental security and para-military forces. The threat of untraceable 3D weapons increases the dangers exponentially. The United States should never make it easier for foreign despots, paramilitary or terrorist groups to slaughter or threaten people.”

“These changes defy common sense, undermine public safety and undercut our national security.  The only ones cheering these ill-advised moves are the NRA and U.S. gunmakers,” said Sen. Menendez.  “Small arms and associated ammunition are uniquely lethal.  They are easily spread and easily modified, and are the primary means of injury, death, and destruction in civil and military conflicts throughout the world.  Every terrorist and criminal that wants to hijack an airplane with Americans onboard will more easily be able to smuggle 3D printed, virtually undetectable guns aboard.  Every school, every government facility, every hospital, here and abroad, will become even more vulnerable to gun violence through this change.  This is madness.” 

“Our laws have not kept up with the pace of technology, especially when it comes to the manufacturing of firearms,” said Sen. Murphy. “The Trump administration basically gave anyone – including criminals and murderers – a green light to 3D print and sell untraceable ‘ghost guns.’ Thankfully, the courts have blocked this for now, but Congress needs to act to close this glaring loophole before anyone gets killed.”

“We now live in a world where a 3D printer cartridge can become as deadly as a gun cartridge,” said Sen. Markey. “These homemade 3D firearms are the ultimate gun show loophole — they are untraceable and in some instances, undetectable. We need to stop the spread of these firearms before they become a public health crisis and the latest addition to the terrible scourge of gun violence that is already plaguing our country.”   

The Stopping the Traffic in Overseas Proliferation of Ghost Guns Act would outright prevent this transfer, and therefore maintain the strict controls over firearms and 3D printed “ghost gun” information that currently exist on the United States Munitions List.  It would also keep Congressional oversight and legislative disapproval of such sales, which the Trump Administration is also trying to circumvent.

Specifically, the legislation would:

  • Prohibit the transfer of small arms/light weapons, and the technical manufacturing information related to them (including 3D Printed guns), to the Department of Commerce;
  • Maintain the statutory restriction on publishing 3D Printing gun information, including via the Internet;
  • Prohibit the ability of the State Department to suspend the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations without 30-day prior notice to Congress.