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In full transparency, the following is a media release from Sen. Ed Markey, who was elected by voters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to serve the state in Washington DC in the US Senate. He is a Democrat. (stock photo)


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WASHINGTON DC – – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Representative Grace Meng (NY-06) led 25 of their colleagues today, October 20, in calling on President Biden to undo a Trump-era rule that weakened export controls designed to prevent computer files for the 3D-printing of firearms from being available on the internet and ending up in the wrong hands.

“President Biden can undo the Trump-era rule that has made the instructions for the 3D-printing of untraceable and deadly ‘ghost’ guns widely available online,” said Senator Markey. “The online distribution of these ghost gun blueprints only increases the risk of these weapons proliferating and poses a serious threat to public safety and national security. President Biden should fulfill his campaign promise and reverse the Trump administration’s weakening of these gun safety regulations.”

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“Ghost guns have been a deadly problem in communities across the country for years. And President Biden’s ability to roll back a Trump-era rule, would make accessing designs to these weapons much more difficult,” said Congresswoman Meng. “Easy access to ghost gun blueprints makes these untraceable weapons more accessible to bad actors and more likely to show up in our neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces. Transferring control of ghost gun blueprints back to the State Department would help close loopholes people are using to build these guns and better protect New York City and communities across the nation from the flood of these weapons. I thank Senator Markey for his leadership and partnership and look forward to working with President Biden to address this issue.”

Specifically, the pro-gun Trump rule transferred regulation of 3D firearms and their technical data from the State Department to the Commerce Department. At the State Department, 3D firearms and their technical files were considered “defense articles,” placed on the U.S. Munitions List, and governed by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (“ITAR”), which restrict exports of military technologies in order to protect U.S. national security and foreign policy objectives. The Commerce Department, by contrast, regulates the export of non-Munitions List items under the Export Control Act, resulting in weaker, less stringent regulation of these deadly firearms. During his 2020 presidential campaign, then-candidate Biden promised to restore jurisdiction over 3D printed firearms and their technical data to the State Department so that it could resume its duty of blocking the code used to 3D print firearms from being made available on the Internet, but the President has yet to do so.

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In their letter, the lawmakers urged President Biden to transfer control of 3D-printed firearms and their technical files from the Commerce Department back to the State Department, or, at a minimum, close loopholes in the Trump-era rule by amending the Commerce regulations. Transfer back to the State Department would place 3D-printed firearms and their technical files back on the U.S. Munitions List and under ITAR.

“We applaud your commitment to protecting the public from gun violence with a particular focus on stopping the proliferation of ghost guns,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter to the Administration. “As part of that priority, we believe transferring regulatory control of 3D-printed firearms and their technical data back to the State Department, or amending the Commerce Department’s current regulations to close existing loopholes, would help avoid the proliferation of these dangerous, untraceable weapons.”

Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Representatives Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Thomas R. Suozzi (NY-03), Juan Vargas (CA-51), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (GA-04), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Madeleine Dean (PA-04), Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03), Bobby L. Rush (IL-01), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Karen Bass (CA-37), Mike Doyle (PA-18), André Carson (IN-07), Dwight Evans (PA-03), Jake Auchincloss (MA-04), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Betty McCollum (MN-04), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), and Marie Newman (IL-03) also signed the letter.

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The lawmakers requested the Biden administration provide answers to the following questions by November 9, 2022:

  1. Will your Administration return regulatory oversight of 3D-printed firearms and their technical data back to the Department of State and under ITAR? If not, why not?
  2. If your Administration chooses to keep regulatory oversight of 3D-printed firearms and their technical data at the Commerce Department, will it commit to strengthening the Trump regulations? Specifically, will the Commerce Department amend 15 C.F.R. § 734.7(c) by striking the “ready for insertion” qualification and clarifying that “‘software’ or ‘technology’ for the production of a firearm, or firearm frame or receiver” includes files that are emailed or otherwise made available to foreign persons? If not, why not?
  3. If the Commerce Department believes that the current version of 15 C.F.R. § 734.7(c) is broad enough to apply to any known versions of currently viable 3D-firearm files, will it issue guidance to that effect? If not, why not?

Following a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in 2021 allowing the Trump rules to go into effect – because they were not subject to judicial review – Senator Markey has led efforts to combat the distribution of untraceable ghost guns. In February, Senator Markey and his colleagues wrote to YouTube to urge the platform to enforce its Community Guidelines to remove videos that guide viewers on how to manufacture and assemble ghost guns.

In May 2021, Senators Markey, Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Representative David Cicilline (RI-03) led their colleagues in introducing the Untraceable Firearms Act, legislation that would ensure ghost gun kit manufacturers and distributors selling frames and receivers capable of being converted into functional components comply with federal regulations that govern the production and distribution of completed firearms.

In March 2021, Senator Markey joined his colleagues in calling for President Biden to take executive action to close the ghost gun loophole in the Gun Control Act, which allows individuals to buy a ghost gun without a federal background check.

The following month, President Biden and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco announced new rulemaking to deem ghost gun kits as “firearms” under the Gun Control Act, and that commercial manufacturers of such kits must therefore become licensed and include serial numbers on the kits’ frame or receiver.

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By editor

Susan Petroni is the former editor for SOURCE. She is the founder of the former news site, which as of May 1, 2023, is now a self-publishing community bulletin board. The website no longer has a journalist but a webmaster.