Chairman Thompson, Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Call on President Biden to Take Action on 3-D Printed Guns
Washington – Today Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Chairman Mike Thompson (CA-05) and Leadership of the Task Force wrote to President Biden asking him to prevent the publication of the online files that allow people to 3-D print firearms at home. They urged him to maintain the controls that have previously prevented a release of these files, citing the urgent need to prevent further printing of these untraceable firearms. A copy of the letter is below.
President Joseph R. Biden
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Biden:
As Members of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, we write to urge you to take swift action to prevent the online publication of dangerous files that enable at-home 3D printing of firearms. This issue has become very time sensitive following the April 27 decision by two members of a Ninth Circuit panel which lifted a district court injunction on the finalization of dangerous Trump-era regulations. If that decision is allowed to take effect as written, which could happen within a few weeks of this writing, strong State Department protections against the publication of those files will be lifted, and we could immediately see widespread at-home production of firearms. We urge you to act swiftly to retain the strong State Department controls to avert this potential public safety disaster.
The publication of those 3D-printing files qualifies as exports of “technical data” associated with small arms and are currently on the U.S. Munitions List (“USML”) and subject to strong State Department regulations. The Trump State Department recklessly sought to remove most small arms exports from the USML and finalized regulations in January 2020 to transfer responsibility over those exports to the Commerce Department, which does not have the experience or regulations in place to supervise the export or prevent publication of 3D-printing files.
Attorneys general in 22 states and Washington, DC have been in court working to prevent the finalization of those rules as they apply to 3D-printing files, and a district court injunction has been in place since March of last year. Absent further litigation, the new Ninth Circuit decision will lift that injunction within a matter of weeks and technical data will be removed from the USML and supervision of the State Department, allowing the files to be immediately published, downloaded, and used to produce illegal guns.
The best and most effective action would be to reverse the Trump State Department’s regulations and keep the technical data on the USML. The State Department should issue a new interim final rule that retains this technical data. All small arms exports belong under the State Department’s jurisdiction and should be subject to the Congressional oversight required under the USML, which can properly supervise controls protecting human rights and national security. If your Administration chooses not to reverse those State Department regulations, we urge you to strengthen the Commerce Department regulation’s with a new interim final rule that prevents the spread of the dangerous technical data for 3D printed firearms.
The urgency of this issue can hardly be overstated. Unlike many regulatory changes, the effect of allowing this publication cannot be reversed. Once these files are widely available online, they can be downloaded by millions of users. We applaud your April 8, 2021 executive actions on ghost guns, and urge you to also move quickly to prevent the release of 3D-printed firearm information that could be used by criminals to make untraceable firearms. Thank you for your attention to this urgent issue.