Printing Guns is Illegal and a Serious Public Safety Risk
AG Issues Public Safety Notice with the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, Chiefs of Police Association, Major City Chiefs of Police, and the District Attorneys Association.
BOSTON, MA — After winning a federal court order blocking the Trump Administration from allowing the publication of plans for downloadable 3D-printed weapons, Attorney General Maura Healey today joined with her law enforcement partners in issuing a public safety notice that details the serious violations of state law arising from the creation of these undetectable guns.
The notice, issued jointly with the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, Massachusetts Major City Chiefs of Police, and Massachusetts District Attorneys Association, is in response to a recent U.S. Department of State settlement, challenged by AG Healey, that would allow the company Defense Distributed to post files online that enable individuals to print firearms using 3D printers.
The public safety notice serves as a reminder that the creation, transfer, or possession of a weapon made with a 3D printer can subject an individual to serious criminal or civil liability under Massachusetts law.
“For years, the State Department correctly argued that making plans for 3D-printed guns available for anyone to download—including criminals and terrorists—would be a major threat to national security and public safety,” said AG Healey. “These 3D-printed weapons will be used to evade Massachusetts’ strong gun laws, and my office and our law enforcement partners will do everything we can to keep deadly homemade weapons off our streets and out of our schools.”
“Law enforcement in Massachusetts works very hard to make sure that firearms don’t fall into the hands of the wrong people: gang members, terrorists, or those with a history of committing violent crimes,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Security Daniel Bennett. “We need to be vigilant to make sure this new technology doesn’t let these people evade the strong laws that protect the Commonwealth from gun violence.”
“Firearms built using 3D-printing technology are powerful, deadly weapons that could fall into the hands of dangerous individuals and pose serious safety risks for the public,” said Chief Brian Kyes, President of the Massachusetts Major City Chiefs of Police. “We’re joining the AG’s Office to remind the public that unregulated, unregistered and untraceable 3D-printed weapons violate state law and carry serious criminal and civil consequences.”
“Weapons built with 3D printers evade state gun laws and make it even more challenging for law enforcement to do their jobs keeping the public safe,” said Chief Steve Wojnar, President of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association. “These firearms pose a unique and serious threat, and we are joining Attorney General Maura Healey in issuing this notice to make sure Massachusetts residents know we are committed to protecting our communities and keeping these undetectable guns off the streets.”
According to the notice, the state laws potentially implicated by the creation of a weapon using 3D printing include:
- Plastic Weapons: Weapons made exclusively from plastic or that otherwise cannot be detected by an x-ray machine or walk-through metal detector are unlawful, and cannot be sold, transferred, or possessed.
- License Requirement: An appropriate state-issued license is required to possess or carry a weapon; sell, rent, or lease a weapon; and possess or purchase ammunition.
- Reporting of Sales: Sales and other transfers of weapons must generally be reported to the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services by the transferee at the Massachusetts Gun Transaction Portal on the Internet, unless the weapon is purchased from a licensed dealer. The information required includes the caliber, make, and serial number of the weapon.
- Safety Requirements: Only firearms that are on the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security’s approved firearms roster may be sold. Currently, no firearms made with 3D printing technology are approved for sale in Massachusetts.
- Safe Storage: All weapons must be securely stored using a device approved by the Colonel of the State Police. There are enhanced penalties for weapons left unsecured around children.
- Assault Weapons: The sale, transfer, or possession of any “assault weapon” is prohibited. Any weapon that meets the definition of an “assault weapon” under Massachusetts law, whether made in whole or in part out of plastic, is prohibited.
The multistate lawsuit AG Healey announced last week seeking to stop the Department of State’s action allowing firearms built using 3D printing technology won a temporary injunction from a federal judge in Seattle. AG Healey also led a multistate letter of 21 state attorneys general last week urging U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to withdraw from this settlement, writing that these actions recklessly disregard public safety.
The Department of State recently agreed to amend federal rules regulating the export of weapons on the United States Munitions List. The proposed rules would allow information about certain military weapons such as semi-automatic firearms, previously considered critical to national security and public safety, to be uploaded to the Internet.
The attorneys general argue that the Department of State’s settlement will facilitate violations of state and federal law and create unprecedented risks to public safety, allowing terrorists, transnational criminals, convicted felons, and individuals otherwise prohibited by federal and state laws from purchasing, manufacturing, selling, and possessing firearms to have unrestricted access to computer designs for unsafe, undetectable and untraceable firearms.