GOP senator blocks bill that would ban release of 3D gun blueprints

GOP senator blocks bill that would ban release of 3D gun blueprints
© Greg Nash

A Republican senator on Tuesday blocked legislation that would ban blueprints of 3D printed guns from being posted online.

Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonDems urge tech companies to remove 3D-gun blueprints GOP looks to injure Nelson over Russia comments Election Countdown: GOP worries House majority endangered by top of ticket | Dems make history in Tuesday's primaries | Parties fight for Puerto Rican vote in Florida | GOP lawmakers plan 'Freedom Tour' MORE (D-Fla.) tried to pass a bill by unanimous consent that would make it illegal to intentionally publish a digital file that programs a 3D printer to manufacture a firearm.

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"The administration has surrendered to the crazed demands of a self-described anarchist who is going to put this up on the internet. He wants to sow chaos. He said so, in our country and across the world by making these blueprints widely available," Nelson said on the Senate floor.

Under the terms of a court settlement, Defense Distributed is able to start publishing digital blueprints on its website at midnight. But thousands have already been downloaded when some plans were put online early.

GOP Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeGOP leader criticizes Republican senators for not showing up to work Ex-Virginia GOP Senate candidate shares offensive voicemail allegedly left by Charlottesville rally organizer Facebook cracks down on 3D guns MORE (Utah) objected to passing the legislation. He noted that while he had just seen the bill for the first time, he had concerns that it would infringe on the First Amendment.

"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," Lee said.

"It begins with the words 'it shall be unlawful for any person to intentionally publish.' That ought to be concerning to us," Lee added.

The Trump administration has come under criticism for settling with a gun rights activist last month over the distribution of 3D firearm blueprints. Defense Distributed sued the government in 2015 after the State Department forced all instruction manuals to be removed from the internet.

Several states filed a lawsuit Monday to block the administration from allowing criminals and terrorists to access downloadable plans for 3D printed weapons that are untraceable and can be undetectable.

Democrats, acknowledging that their legislation is unlikely to get passed before midnight, have urged Trump to intervene.

"These ghost guns are a menace," Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday. "The failure to ban them will mean blood on the hands of officials who have that responsibility. I call on the Trump administration now to do the right thing."

Trump said earlier Tuesday that he was "looking into" the issue.

"I am looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public," he said in a tweet. "Already spoke to NRA, doesn’t seem to make much sense!"