Sen. Coyne files legislation to ban 3-D printed guns
STATE HOUSE — Sen. Cynthia A. Coyne has introduced legislation that would ban 3-D printed firearms in Rhode Island.
In June, the federal government entered a settlement with a Texas nonprofit called Defense Distributed that was to allow it to post free online blueprints for a pistol that could be created from plastic by anyone with 3-D printing equipment. A U.S. District Court later issued a preliminary injunction banning the release of the blueprints until the resolution of a lawsuit by attorneys general from 19 states and the District of Columbia seeking to ban the untraceable weapons.
Before the settlement, the U.S. State Department maintained Defense Distributed was in violation of the Arms Export Control Act. The attorneys general participating in the lawsuit, as well as Senator Coyne and many others, argue that releasing the plans imperils the public by allowing unlimited, unmarked, untraceable weapons to be accessed by anyone, including those legally prohibited from possessing them, and would allow the creation of weapons that would be undetectable by metal detectors.
“As we struggle to fight the gun epidemic in this country and make it more difficult for children, criminals and the mentally ill to possess firearms, 3-D-printed guns would suddenly make it easier for anyone worldwide to do just that,” said Senator Coyne (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence), a retired lieutenant with the Rhode Island State Police. “Anyone with Internet access and a 3-D printer would be able to make weapons that are undetectable and — since they have no serial numbers — untraceable.”
Senator Coyne’s bill (2019-S 0084) would address the issue at the state level. It would make it unlawful in Rhode Island for any person to manufacture, import, sell, ship, deliver, possess, transfer or receive any firearm that is made from plastic, fiberglass or through a 3-D printing process; or would be undetectable by a metal detector after removal of all parts other than a major component; or whose major component would not generate an accurate image if subjected to the type of screening equipment used at airports and public buildings.
The bill sets a punishment for violations at up to 10 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
Banning 3-D printed guns was one of the recommendations made by the Rhode Island Working Group for Gun Safety, a 43-member task force that was assembled following the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., when panel issued its final report in October.
“With 3-D guns, criminals seeking guns would be able to bypass background checks, age restrictions and gun licensing rules,” said Senator Coyne. “This is a terrifying precedent, a blow to public safety and a huge potential tragedy in the making. We must not wait for the federal government or the courts to solve this problem. We can and must move now in Rhode Island to address this issue.”
The legislation is cosponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Erin Lynch Prata (D-Dist. 31, Warwick, Cranston), Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence), Senate Finance Committee Chairman William J. Conley Jr. (D-Dist. 18, East Providence, Pawtucket) and Sen. James A. Seveney (D-Dist. 11, Portsmouth, Bristol, Tiverton).
For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903