Chuck Schumer

Schumer: 'Sounding an Alarm' on 'Scary,' 'Dangerous' 3D Guns

The New York senator is scared that people will build semi-automatic weapons from the comfort of their homes.


Steve Ferdman/Steven Ferdman/Sipa USA/Newscom

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D–N.Y.) is "sounding an alarm" about the proliferation of blueprints for 3D-printed ghost guns, declaring that America is going to "get a lot less safe."

Schumer's comments came almost two weeks after news broke that the Justice Department had reached a settlement with Cody Wilson, a guns rights activist who created of the first ever 3D-printed gun. As Reason's Brian Doherty notes, the settlement allows Americans to "access, discuss, use, reproduce or otherwise benefit from the technical data" that the government had previously ordered Wilson's company, Defense Distributed, to stop distributing. The settlement takes effect on August 1.

Schumer is worried this will allow people with 3D printers to create weapons from the comfort of their own homes. (If you're interested in homemade weapons, here's a Reason video showing you how to make them.) "This online site shows you how at your home, with a simple 3D printer, you can make a plastic AR-15, an AR-10," the senator said at a press conference yesterday, adding that these "very dangerous semi-automatic assault-style weapons" can be constructed "in your own basement."

The New York Democrat also worries that 3D weapons will put Americans in harm's way. "I am sounding an alarm that come August 1, America is going to get a lot less safe when it comes to the gut-wrenching epidemic of gun violence," he said. "Ghost guns are not only scary, they're outright dangerous in the way they can mimic the look and the capacity of a hardened, fully semi-automatic weapon."

Many 3D plastic guns are relatively easy to make if you have a big enough 3D printer and the right blueprints. Often, they're also unregistered and untraceable.

Prior to settling with Wilson, the federal government had argued that his company's gun-making files violated the International Trade in Arms munitions export regulations. Defense Distributed responded by suing. As Doherty writes,

Defense Distributed's suit claimed that this was was "censorship of Plaintiffs' speech," since the files in question consist of computer code and thus counted as expression. It also argued that "the ad hoc, informal and arbitrary manner in which that scheme is applied, violate the First, Second, and Fifth Amendments." (The Second because the information in the computer files implicates weapons possession rights.)

Thanks to the settlement, Wilson and others will soon be free to post blueprints for 3D guns. But Schumer intends to fight the feds' decision. "This decision to allow ghost gun blueprints to go unchecked across the internet will come back to haunt the feds and cost lives," he said. "That is why Congress must take aim at stopping these websites before the damage is done." A Schumer spokesperson tells the New York Post that the senator plans to announce a bill to do just that before the week is up.

Here's a ReasonTV interview with Wilson from February: