WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) joined legislation led by Ranking Member U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and colleagues U.S. Senators Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) yesterday in introducing legislation to block the Trump administration’s efforts to weaken controls over foreign arms sales and allow for the unfettered proliferation of untraceable, virtually undetectable, 3D printable guns that threaten public safety. The Trump administration announced earlier this month that it has taken steps to transfer control of the export of semi-automatic pistols, assault-style rifles, sniper rifles and ammunition from the United States Munition List under the authority of the Department of State to the less-stringent controls of the Department of Commerce. It would also transfer the control of the technical information and blueprints for 3D printing of nearly undetectable firearms to Commerce, where the lax regulations will facilitate the Internet publication worldwide. The senators argue these moves are designed to strangle congressional oversight. 

Last month, Murphy and Blumenthal led 39 senators in reintroducing the Background Check Expansion Act to expand federal background checks to all gun sales. 

“Our laws have not kept up with the pace of technology, especially when it comes to the manufacturing of firearms,” said Murphy. “The Trump administration basically gave anyone – including criminals and murderers – a green light to 3D print and sell untraceable ‘ghost guns.’ Thankfully, the courts have blocked this for now, but Congress needs to act to close this glaring loophole before anyone gets killed.” 

“Gun violence is an epidemic that has claimed thousands of American lives and torn apart communities from coast to coast. So what is the Trump Administration doing about it? Loosening restrictions on the flow of foreign small arms into our country, and giving a free pass to anyone with a 3D printer and access to the internet who wants to create their own unregistered assault weapon, pistol, or shotgun. Ghost guns are a menace – without intervention and aggressive enforcement, they will spawn the next terrifying wave of gun violence. Our legislation will mandate commonsense enforcement of these dangerous weapons,” said Blumenthal. 

“These changes defy common sense, undermine public safety and undercut our national security. The only ones cheering these ill-advised moves are the NRA and U.S. gunmakers,” said Menendez. “Small arms and associated ammunition are uniquely lethal.  They are easily spread and easily modified, and are the primary means of injury, death, and destruction in civil and military conflicts throughout the world.  Every terrorist and criminal that wants to hijack an airplane with Americans onboard will more easily be able to smuggle 3D printed, virtually undetectable guns aboard.  Every school, every government facility, every hospital, here and abroad, will become even more vulnerable to gun violence through this change. This is madness.” 

The Stopping the Traffic in Overseas Proliferation of Ghost Guns Act would outright prevent this transfer, and therefore maintain the strict controls over firearms and 3D printed “ghost gun” information that currently exist on the United States Munitions List.  It would also keep congressional oversight and legislative disapproval of such sales, which the Trump administration is also trying to circumvent. 

Specifically, the legislation would: 

  • Prohibit the transfer of small arms/light weapons, and the technical manufacturing information related to them (including 3D printed guns), to the Department of Commerce;
  • Maintain the statutory restriction on publishing 3D printed gun information, including over the internet;
  • Prohibit the ability of the State Department to suspend the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations without 30-day prior notice to Congress.