Maine must take on 3D gun threat

By Geoff Bickford

The Maine Gun Safety Coalition commends Attorney General Janet Mills for joining with a group of 20 other state attorneys general in a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, voicing their concerns about the State Department’s settlement with the Texas organization Defense Distributed that allows public access to computer codes that facilitate the home production of untraceable and undetectable firearms.

These so-called 3D guns, designed with downloaded instructions and manufactured at home with publicly available 3D printers, pose an immediate threat to the public, and would enable criminals and terrorists to obtain firearms in contravention of state and federal law. These homemade guns can be produced so as to render them undetectable by metal detectors and other screening devices. The very nature of home manufacture means that anyone, including individuals prohibited by law from owning firearms, would be able to create a gun with the click of a mouse.

The letter calls for the State Department to withdraw from the settlement, to immediately withdraw the proposed regulations allowing for the online publication of the 3D gun computer codes, and to allow “a full and fair consideration of any future proposed rules on these issues.” The coalition strongly agrees.

Additionally, we urge Attorney General Mills to join the attorneys general of Washington, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia in the recent action filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington in State of Washington, et al. v. United States Department of State, et al. addressing the State Department’s settlement with Defense Distributed. On July 31, 2018, the presiding judge in that case granted a preliminary injunction blocking the further online dissemination of printable 3D gun computer codes, but the case will continue to be litigated, and Defense Distributed may yet prevail.

Finally, we also call on Sens. King and Collins and Reps. Pingree and Poliquin to forcefully support the proposed legislation in the House and Senate that was recently introduced to regulate the production, possession and dissemination of 3D guns.

By allowing untraceable and undetectable guns to be made and sold in Maine, the Trump administration is needlessly and recklessly risking the lives and safety of the citizens of Maine. The coalition urges the citizens of Maine to call their elected representatives and press them to take action before the first tragedy involving a homemade, 3D-printed firearm occurs in our state.


Geoff Bickford is executive director of the Maine Gun Safety Coalition, founded in 2000 to protect Maine families and communities from gun violence.

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