Press Release

July 31, 2018
Cardin Joins Colleagues in Introducing Legislation Banning Untraceable, Undetectable and Downloadable 3D “Ghost” Guns
Legislation would require sellers of online 3D gun-making kits to comply with federal firearm safety regulations

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) joined his colleagues Tuesday to introduce legislation to ban untraceable, undetectable and downloadable 3D “ghost” guns.

“A firearm is a firearm, period. If this illogical and dangerous plan moves forward to make widely available blueprints so that anyone can build their own gun, then gun kit manufacturers and distributors must be held to the same regulatory standards for similar firearms,” said Cardin.

The Untraceable Firearms Act of 2018 would 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 legislation was led by U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and, in addition to Cardin, is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH).

“Undetectable and untraceable plastic weapons will spawn the next terrifying wave of gun violence—and must be banned.  Congress must act urgently to stop these homemade ‘ghost guns’ after the Trump Administration caved to the NRA and far-right fringe groups in surrendering key litigation.  Tomorrow, anyone with a 3D printer and access to the internet can create their own unregistered assault weapon, pistol, or shotgun. Such homemade guns are just as deadly as manufactured metal guns.  My legislation would close loopholes and prevent a horrifying public safety emergency resulting from the Administration snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in court,” said Blumenthal.

Nelson said, “These undetectable, untraceable guns are a real threat to our national security. We must do everything we can to keep these guns off our streets.”

“Gun-making kits allow individuals who are prohibited from legally owning firearms to easily build untraceable weapons on their own.  We need to close this dangerous loophole, which allowed the gunman in Rancho Tehama, Calif. to shoot his wife and attack an elementary school last year,” said Feinstein.

“To borrow a phrase from this administration, ‘…the warning lights are blinking red’ when it comes to the idea that the federal government would simply turn the other cheek and allow dangerous websites to host, post and provide detailed instructions and tools on using an inexpensive 3-D printer to make untraceable and undetectable AR-15 style ghost guns,” said Schumer. “Sadly, the feds are not only shoulder-shrugging this threat to public safety by refusing to fully enforce laws already on the books, but they could be sowing the seeds of real disaster by allowing dangerous ghost gun blueprints to be shared freely online.”

Markey said, “The online availability of 3D printable, downloadable firearms is a public safety crisis that is entirely of the Trump administration’s own making.  We cannot stand by as the American people are forced to pay the price for the President’s subservience to the gun manufacturers and the NRA.  Whether made of metal or plastic, guns are guns and should be subject to the same federal regulations.  We must close the ghost gun loophole. I am proud to join Senator Blumenthal in the effort to prevent the manufacture of dangerous, untraceable firearms.”

“Providing easy access to untraceable, unregistered, undetectable 3-D 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 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.”

“These untraceable, unregistered, and unregulated ghost guns are frightening and designed specifically to skirt the law,” said Menendez.  “Our legislation says simply:  If the end product loads like a gun, fires like a gun and kills like a gun, then each and every part should be regulated like a gun.”

“New technology has opened the door to untraceable and deadly weapons that criminals and terrorists can conjure with the click of a button.  We ought not wait to see what the consequences of these developments might be for public safety,” said Whitehouse.  “Instead, we should ensure that important safeguards for gun manufacturers apply to this new kind of ghost weapon.”

“Untraceable, unregistered firearms have no serial number and require no background checks – making them impossible to track and easy to get a hold of.  They don’t belong on our streets, near our playgrounds, or in our communities,” said Warren.  “Our legislation is a no-brainer – and I’m glad to work with my colleagues to stop ghost guns from flooding the market.”

Murphy said, “‘Ghost guns’ that are completely untraceable are a huge problem.  This is madness – we can’t make it this easy for criminals who fail background checks to simply make their own.  These firearms and manufacturers should absolutely be subject to the same federal regulations as all other guns.”

“It is unthinkable to allow the 3D printing of the components of guns that could get in the hands of any dangerous individual and could be undetectable in metal detectors,” Hassan said.  “By subjecting gun kit manufacturers and distributors to the same regulations that govern the production and distribution of completed firearms, the Untraceable Firearms Act is a commonsense step we can take to ensure that these 3D guns do not get in the hands of someone committed to carrying out the next Parkland, Pulse, or Las Vegas massacre.”

Cardin also signed onto Senator Nelson’s 3D Printed Gun Safety Act, which would make it illegal to intentionally publish any digital files online that program a 3D printer to automatically manufacture a firearm. 

Both bills were introduced following a decision by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to settle a lawsuit brought against the Department of State by Defense Distributed and the Second Amendment Foundation, two proponents of downloadable 3D “ghost guns.”  As a result of the settlement, starting tomorrow, criminals and even terrorists can download 3D firearms printing tutorials online.