RI Senate approves ban on 3-D printed guns and other untraceable firearms

The Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Cynthia Coyne to outlaw 3-D printed firearms, ghost guns and other untraceable or undetectable firearms in Rhode Island.

“Ghost guns, 3-D printed guns and undetectable plastic guns are designed especially for criminal activity. They are meant to dodge the legal safeguards that protect public safety. Our state laws should be very clear that possessing, creating or selling them is a criminal act, and we should be doing everything we can to keep these dangerous weapons from proliferating here,” said Senator Coyne (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence). “I’m very grateful that the Senate has expedited this common-sense legislation, which addresses a loophole that has developed via new technology while protecting the rights of law-abiding citizens.”

The legislation (2020-S 2004Aaa), a version of which was also approved by the Senate last year,  would make it unlawful in Rhode Island for any person to manufacture, sell, offer to sell, transfer, purchase, possess, or have under his or her control any firearm that is made from plastic, fiberglass or through a 3-D printing process; or a ghost gun — one that lacks a serial number under the requirements of the Federal Gun Control Act of 1968; or one that would be undetectable by a metal detector after removal of all parts other than a major component, or whose major component would not generate an accurate image if subjected to the type of screening equipment used at airports and public buildings.

The bill sets a punishment for violations at up to 10 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

The bill will now proceed to the House, where Representative Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick) is sponsoring companion legislation. That bill (2020-H 7102) is scheduled for consideration by the House Judiciary Committee this evening.

Regardless of lawsuits, federal decisions and restraining orders preventing their original authors from posting them online, blueprints for 3-D printed firearms remain available on Internet, allowing anyone with access to a 3-D printer to create an untraceable plastic gun. Investigators initially believed such a gun was used in the New Year’s Day murder of Cheryl Smith in her Pawtucket home, although the state crime lab later said it was not likely.

Banning 3-D printed guns was one of the recommendations made by the Rhode Island Working Group for Gun Safety, a 43-member task force that was assembled following the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., when panel issued its final report in 2018.