A conservative senator on Tuesday blocked an effort by Senate Democrats to ban blueprints of 3D printed guns from being posted on the internet.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah., objected to a unanimous consent request to advance a bill Senate Democrats, led by Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., introduced to make it illegal to publish with intent a Computer Aided Design (CAD) file that programs a 3D printer to make a firearm to the internet.
“These 3D-printed plastic firearms can evade our detection systems and are a direct threat to our national security,” Nelson said Tuesday. “And we are going to let these go up on the internet tonight at midnight?”
Nelson's bill attracted 30 Democratic co-sponsors, who latched on to the legislation after the Trump administration reached a legal settlement with Defense Distributed, a Texas-based group that runs an online depository for 3D-printed gun files, to release the CAD files for 3D-printed firearms on the internet. Eight states sued to prevent those files from being published and on Tuesday a federal judge issued a nationwide injunction Tuesday blocking Defense Distributed from posting the files.
"The administration has surrendered to the crazed demands of a self-described anarchist who is going to put this up on the internet. He wants to sow chaos. He said so, in our country and across the world by making these blueprints widely available," Nelson said on the Senate floor.
Lee objected after Nelson spoke, raising concerns that Senate Democrats want to trample on the free speech rights of Americans to post blueprints to the internet.
"Any legislation that comes forth from this body that begins with the following words will attract my attention and should attract the attention of anyone who's concerned about our first amendment and other constitutional rights," Lee said.
"It begins with the words 'it shall be unlawful for any person to intentionally publish.' That ought to be concerning to us, to each and every one of us, Democrats and Republicans alike," he added.
President Donald Trump said the availability of 3D plastic guns to the public, "doesn't seem to make much sense" in a tweet sent Tuesday.
I am looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public. Already spoke to NRA, doesn’t seem to make much sense!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1533038610.0
He said he is "looking into" the issue and consulting with the National Rifle Association.