On July 31, Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) attempted to ram through a gun control bill by unanimous consent that would have made the publishing of blueprints for 3D-printed guns illegal. But that wasn’t going to happen if Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) had anything to say about it. Lee took to the Senate floor to lambast the Democrats for bringing forth such hugely unconstitutional legislation that would have violated the First and Second Amendments.
The conservative Senator blocked the measure’s passage, saying “Any legislation that comes forth from this body that begins with the following words will attract my attention and should attract the attention of anyone who’s concerned about our First Amendment and other constitutional rights.” He continued “It begins with the words ‘it shall be unlawful for any person to intentionally publish.’ That ought to be concerning to us, to each and every one of us, Democrats and Republicans alike. On that basis, I object.”
Lee later issued a statement saying “There are literally hundreds of gunsmithing guides on Amazon, are we going to ban those books, too? Under the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1998, the mere possession of any gun that would avoid a metal detector is already a crime.” These points are the same that 3D gun manufacturer Cody Wilson of Defense Distributed has been arguing (so far successfully) in court. Wilson pointed out that not only has the “can’t yell fire in a crowded theater” precedent been upended in a recent case, but “speech about another Amendment is even more protected.”
He also destroyed the myth that has been circulating about his 3D guns being “undetectable” by metal detectors, saying he follows the laws on the books by only producing plastic guns that also contain certain metal parts. Wilson mocked the federal government and liberal lawmakers on Chris Wallace’s Fox News Sunday show for not knowing until now that federal law does not require any tracking information or serial numbers for homemade guns that are never sold.
On July 10, Wilson’s company and the Second Amendment Foundation reached a settlement with the DOJ that allows them to continue publishing blueprints. But on the same day that Senator Nelson put forward his bill, the attorneys general of several states sued the Trump administration in Seattle federal court to stop Wilson from publishing his files. In response, the judge issued a restraining order, but Wilson told the Texas Tribune he would continue to sell the blueprints “so long as the legal battles continue.” He filed a retaliatory lawsuit against those states in a Texas federal court, calling the states’ actions “intimidation.”