WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump said Tuesday he was mulling whether Americans should be able to make their own 3D-printed guns amid an uproar over his government’s settlement with a Texas entrepreneur who wants to provide free blueprints for the firearms.
The tweet comes one day before Cody Wilson, a self-proclaimed “crypto-anarchist” and gun rights advocate, is to make the open-source digital files for making so-called “ghost guns” available for download.
Politicians, gun control advocates, and members of law enforcement expressed concerns that anyone – from a teenager to a convicted felon – could make untraceable weapons, including plastic ones that could evade metal detectors.
The technology presents Trump with tough questions about protecting the public, the limits of gun ownership rights and his own political fortunes.
Amid last-minute legal maneuvers to stop Wilson, Trump weighed in on the debate, revealing that he had spoken to America’s main pro-gun lobby, the National Rifle Association, about the topic.
“I am looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public,” Trump said, in apparent skepticism about their use. “Already spoke to NRA, doesn’t seem to make much sense!” In June, after a five-year legal battle between Wilson and the federal government, Trump’s administration granted him permission to operate his website Defcad, envisioned as the WikiLeaks of firearms.
Wilson, who has called gun control “a fantasy,” told The Washington Post that the government’s efforts to stop him from publishing the computer code needed to build 3D-printed guns was akin to stifling free speech.
“[Code] is the essence of expression,” he told the newspaper. “It meets all the requirements of speech – it’s artistic and political, you can manipulate it, and it needs human involvement to become other things.” But eight states filed a federal lawsuit Monday in a last-minute effort to stop Wilson, saying the issue is one of public safety.
Karl Racine, the attorney general for the District of Columbia, said Tuesday that allowing Wilson to proceed would be “reckless and would create chaos and violence in the streets of the United States.”
During his 18-month presidency, which has not been spared from mass shootings in schools and elsewhere, Trump has occasionally seemed to favor tougher gun regulations, only to later buckle under pressure from his base and donors.