Mark Kelly: Possession of 3D-Printed Gun Designs Should Be Illegal

The retired astronaut and husband of fmr. Rep. Giffords says making possession of blueprints illegal will 'discourage a lot of people'

August 1, 2018

Mark Kelly, a retired astronaut and husband of former Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (Ariz.), called Wednesday for making it illegal to possess the designs for 3D-printed guns.

Kelly, who along with Giffords is a vocal gun control advocate, spoke with MSNBC host Katy Tur on Wednesday regarding the legal decision to temporarily prohibit a Texas-based gun rights organization from making blueprints for 3D-printed guns available on the internet as they have been in the past.

Critics of the plans argue the guns made with 3D printers allow anyone with the technology to manufacture an untraceable, unserialized firearm primarily made of plastic. Plastic is not detectable by the commonly used metal detector. On the other hand, others have pointed out the plans still require the use of metal parts, especially to produce a firearm that complies with federal law.

"Here's the thing, a lot of those, a lot of those specs are already online and in some ways the genie is out of the bottle already," Tur said.

"Yeah, but you can make it illegal to possess them and that will discourage a lot of people," Kelly said. "You know, it's illegal to own a undetectable and untraceable firearm at this point. You could do the same thing with the plans."

Kelly said that keeping the plans and the guns illegal was a matter of public safety.

While questions over 3D-printed guns have been around for years, the latest media story has focused on Defense Distributed's Cody Wilson, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

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.

Judge Robert Lasnik ruled Tuesday night that it is illegal to post blueprints for 3D-printable guns online. With his ruling, Lasnik temporarily blocked a settlement that would have allowed Defense Distributed to legally post blueprints for the guns, CNN reported.