The National Rifle Association said on Tuesday that certain politicians and members of the media were misrepresenting the law surrounding 3D printed firearms.
Chris Cox, executive director of the group's Institute for Legislative Action, said many elected officials and media figures had made incorrect claims about the legality of producing firearms made completely out of plastic.
"Many anti-gun politicians and members of the media have wrongly claimed that 3-D printing technology will allow for the production and widespread proliferation of undetectable plastic firearms," Cox said in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon. "Regardless of what a person may be able to publish on the internet, undetectable plastic guns have been illegal for 30 years. Federal law passed in 1988, crafted with the NRA’s support, makes it unlawful to manufacture, import, sell, ship, deliver, possess, transfer, or receive an undetectable firearm."
The latest round of intense media coverage of 3D printed firearms was sparked by a recent settlement between the State Department and 3D printed gun pioneer Cody Wilson. In 2013, after Wilson posted the design of a gun he had created that was made of 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 he remove the blueprints. At the time, the State Department claimed posting the designs on the internet constituted exporting firearms to foreign entities. Since then, the State Department has not gone after anyone else for posting gun designs on the internet despite their continued proliferation online.
Wilson complied with the demand to take down the designs, but he and the Second Amendment Foundation sued the State Department over the claim. On July 15, Wilson and the Second Amendment Foundation announced that the State Department gave up their case against Wilson. The settlement allowed Wilson to begin posting the designs on his website again.
Since the announcement of the settlement, gun-control activists have attempted to stop the publication of the designs by Wilson. The Brady Campaign, which said posting the gun designs enables "terrorists, domestic abusers, and international crime rings to make their own undetectable guns with 3D printers" and that they pose "a danger to national security and international peace," attempted to get a federal judge to block the settlement but failed. Attorneys general from nine states and the District of Columbia have filed a new suit hoping to block publication of the files.
President Trump weighed into the debate on Tuesday. "I am looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public," he tweeted. "Already spoke to NRA, doesn’t seem to make much sense!"
Neither the president nor the NRA have publicly given any specifics about their conversation.