Reality Check: Trump administration explanation on 3D-printed guns misses the mark

Imagine if your creepy neighbor had the ability to 3D print a fully-functional plastic gun -- including an A...

Posted: Aug 2, 2018 5:30 AM
Updated: Aug 2, 2018 5:30 AM

Imagine if your creepy neighbor had the ability to 3D print a fully-functional plastic gun -- including an AR-15 rifle -- without any pesky legal hassles like background checks for mental illness.

What could possibly go wrong?

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But that's the position proactively advanced by the Trump administration's decision to settle a lawsuit brought by a self-described "crypto-anarchist" to stop the Obama administration's efforts to block the dissemination of the gun-printing plans. To add insult to injury, the settlement passed on $40,000 of your taxpayer dollars to pay the crypto-anarchists' legal bills.

The idea was transparently bad enough that after CNN's "New Day" aired a Reality Check on the imminent availability of the 3D printer gun plans, President Donald Trump tweeted:

"I am looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public. Already spoke to NRA, doesn't seem to make much sense!"

While the President seemed willing to take action, he had to check with the NRA first. And soon, White House staffers were echoing the NRA's line -- no new legislation was needed thanks to a Reagan-era "Undetectable Firearms Act."

If the law covered 3D printed guns, it's worth asking why the NRA strongly opposed a bipartisan effort to modernize the law to include new technologies that didn't exist when Ronald Reagan was in office.

The upshot is that the plans would have been legally online if it were not for a judge in Seattle blocking the availability of the gun printing plans after a handful state attorneys general sued to stop its release.

Bullet dodged, for now.

But it's a reminder that public pressure helped elevate legal action that stopped this nonsensical policy from slipping through the cracks.

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