By: José Niño
As if the universal gun registration bill, H.R. 8—which passed the House earlier this year—wasn’t enough, more gun control bills have been filed in Congress during 2019.
Two broad gun control bills were introduced in Congress in mid-June. Should these bills pass, the screening requirements for prospective gun buyers would be greatly tightened, and a prohibition on the dissemination of digital files or code to 3D-print firearms would be enacted.
The first bill in question, the Handgun Purchaser Licensing Act, would encourage state and local governments to start placing licensing requirements on all potential gun buyers. This bill was introduced both in the House and Senate and was inspired by a Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research study that determined that gun purchaser licenses are the only effective method of screening potential gun buyers.
The House sponsor of this bill, Jamie Raskin, said in a press release that, “Handgun licensing saves lives for the same reason drivers' licensing saves lives.
“It takes the dangerous people out of our way as much as possible,” Raskin said.
“We should be doing everything we can to encourage states to put these [permitting] programs in place,” the senate sponsor of this bill, Chris Van Hollen said in another press release. Van Hollen also said that tacking on licensing requirements to buy a handgun should be a “no-brainer.”
Provisions of the Handgun Purchaser Licensing Act also include background checks, criminal history checks, and a five-year renewal period.
The second of piece of gun control legislation revives a previous proposal to hinder the publication of digital files or code that could be used alongside a 3D printer to manufacture guns at home. Many proponents of this bill argue that 3D printable guns would not be tracked by the federal government.
Congressman Ted Deutch and Senator Ed Markey revealed the 3D Printed Gun Safety Act during the current Congress. If passed, this bill would outlaw the publication of digital instructions or code that would later be used to print a firearm or complete the manufacture of a partially finished weapon.
The introduction of this bill came in the wake of a State Department settlement in July 2018 with the 3D printable gun company Defense Distributed. The organization was then allowed to proceed with its plans to post online 3D printing blueprints for firearms. The settlement, was blocked by an injunction from a federal judge, but Defense Distributed was still able to find a way to distribute digital copies of firearms files. Many politicians complain about how 3D printable guns are undetectable and can have parts leaked into black markets.
Even though Congress is divided, with Republicans in control of the Senate, the left is playing the long game as it always does. They are floating trial balloons for these ideas at the moment. But when they have a more favorable partisan makeup in Congress, they will likely pounce.
Licensure requirements only serve as a barrier for gun ownership. It prices out the economically disadvantaged, who would be more affected by the increased fees and time needed to fill out paperwork and jump through regulatory hoops. At the end of the day, we must remember that criminals do not care about bureaucratic proceedings or whatever laws are on the books. They will stop at nothing to commit crimes. Restrictive laws such as these only serve to disarm law-abiding citizens and make them easy prey for criminals.
When dealing with 3D printable guns, any kind of measure to ban this technology could open up a Pandora’s Box for future gun grabs. Technology is always changing. The Second Amendment is timeless; its protections applied to firearms in the 19th century as well as modern-day, and even futuristic firearms. 3D printable technology is still relatively new, and the jury is still out on the viability of these kinds of firearms. Nevertheless, the right to manufacture and distribute this kind of technology must always be protected. The technology surrounding firearms may be different, but the same principles to defend the right to possess and carry them should stay the same.
In 2019, it looks like the gun grabbers have not changed their ways.
José Niño is a Venezuelan-American political activist writing from Fort Collins, Colorado. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.