Gutowski on 3D-Printed Guns: Making Firearms Has Been Legal in U.S. 'Since the Founding of the Country'

Washington Free Beacon staff writer Stephen Gutowski said on Monday it has been legal for citizens to make firearms in the United States since the country's founding.

Gutowski appeared on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" where he explained the recent debate around 3D-printed guns. The debate was sparked by a recent settlement between the State Department and 3D-printed gun pioneer Cody Wilson. In 2013, Wilson published a blueprint of a firearm he designed and created using 3D-printed components, a metal firing pin, and a metal plate to ensure compliance with the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988. The State Department demanded Wilson remove his designs from the internet because it claimed posting the gun designs constituted an illegal act, exporting firearms to foreign entities.

Host John McArdle asked Gutowski to address Sen. Richard Blumenthal's (D., Conn.) criticism of 3D-printed guns.

"We are doing this together to prevent a new wave of lethal gun violence in the community resulting from these plastic, undetectable and untraceable weapons," Blumenthal said on the floor of the Senate last week. "We are talking about assault rifles, pistols, shotguns, all of them homemade. They are ghost guns. They are the new frontier and the new face of gun violence in this country."

"There is a lot to unpack obviously. First off, undetectable is thrown around a lot in coverage of 3D guns," Gutowski said, "This really refers to a gun that could pass through a metal detector without setting it off or an X-ray machine at, say an airport. It's an obvious concern ... As I alluded to earlier, at this point, there is no design that exists that doesn't include metal parts, so presumably, a metal detector would be able to find a gun like this."

Gutowski noted how it is already illegal to make or possess a gun in the United States that is not detectable.

"Even the liberator, the design from Cody Wilson, is likely not undetectable. We actually have a law already that governs this; you're not allowed to make or possess a gun in the United States that is not detectable. It's aptly called the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988," Gutowski said.

"That is the law the NRA cited last week when this controversy bubbled up," McArdle interjected.

"Right. And it's a law the NRA supports," Gutowski said. "So, even if you were able in theory to make a completely plastic gun with no metal parts that could pass through a metal detector, it would be illegal under federal law."

Gutowski also addressed the concern Blumenthal expressed about 3D-printed guns being untraceable.

"Then you get into the idea of 'ghost guns,'" Gutowski said. "And really what it refers to is firearms that are homemade or manufactured at home, are required to have serial numbers. It's legal for someone in the United States to manufacture their own firearms for their own personal use; they cannot sell them or give them away without obtaining a license first, a manufacturers license. But you can make your own firearms. That's something that's been legal since the founding of the country."

Published under: Guns