ILLINOIS (WCIA) — Attorney General Lisa Madigan, and both candidates running to replace her, expressed grave concerns over the State Department’s recent decision to allow a company to publish design plans for 3-D printed firearms on the internet.
Madigan, along with Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and 19 other attorneys general, signed a joint letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging the federal government to withdraw its settlement with Defense Distributed, warning the proposed rule changes would be “deeply dangerous and could have an unprecedented impact on public safety.”
“Some of these weapons may even be undetectable by magnetometers in places like airports and government buildings and untraceable by law enforcement,” the letter warned.
Even though President Trump tweeted that the “plastic guns” “don’t seem to make much sense,” the State Department told CBS “the decision to settle the case was made in the interest of the security and foreign policy of the United States.”
State Senator Kwame Raoul, the Democratic candidate for Attorney General, called the decision “alarming” and a “complete abandonment of its duty to keep Americans safe.”
“It’s a good thing that state attorneys general stepped up this week to get these plans blocked and even force President Trump to take a step back from his dangerous position on homemade guns,” Raoul told WCIA.
His Republican opponent Erika Harold also expressed concerns about the decision, but did not indicate whether or not the Attorney General’s Office should be involved in the dispute.
“We must craft policy that respects the rights of law-abiding firearm owners, but also ensures that firearms do not get into the wrong hands, whether they be terrorists, criminals, or people prohibited from owning firearms,” Harold said. “In that regard, the Federal Government’s settlement with Defense Distributed and proposed rule changes on the matter are deeply concerning.”
In the past, Harold has criticized Democratic attorneys general for using the powers of their office to file lawsuits against the Trump administration, describing them as political attacks. Harold has deferred to a more muted position, often claiming she would instead seek to “enforce the law.”
Still, Harold and Raoul both found room to criticize the pending release of the 3-D printed gun designs, which is currently held up under a federal court’s temporary restraining order.
“While Federal law prohibits the manufacturing of undetectable firearms, the appropriate governmental bodies must enact rules to ensure that these new firearm technologies are compliant with Federal law,” Harold said. “The settlement and proposed rule changes fail to meet that standard and do not protect public safety or ensure national security.”
“Illegal gun trafficking feeds violent crime, and distribution of these designs would release a flood of untraceable, undetectable weapons that would put law enforcement and communities at risk,” Raoul said. “We have commonsense restrictions on guns in order to balance public safety with personal freedom, and law-abiding gun owners comply with those rules. However, the distribution of 3-D printing plans are expressly designed to help people who are not authorized to have guns – from convicted felons to domestic abusers – create their own.”
Todd Vandermyde, formerly with the National Rifle Association, lobbies Illinois lawmakers on behalf of the Federal Firearms Licensees of Illinois. He argues the blueprints for 3-D printed guns are protected under the First Amendment, and predicts a certain victory for Defense Distributed in the courts.
Vandermyde, an avid gun owner himself, was sharply critical of Madigan’s letter, saying she “obviously doesn’t have a degree in engineering and she doesn’t know anything about guns.”
“There is nothing in federal law that outlaws someone from making their own gun,” he said in a phone interview Wednesday. “You may have heard of those two guys Smith and Wesson, or Gatling, you know the Gatling gun. It’s been part of the entrepreneurial spirit of this nation for centuries.”
Some supporters of the 3-D printed guns have suggested the ability to manufacture untraceable guns at home would usher in a new era of no gun control.
Vandermyde said, “The reason stuff like this exists is because people like Lisa Madigan try to implement gun bans. That pushes people into these niche markets. Someone says, ‘Fine, you tell me I can’t have an AR-15? I’m going to build one that is untraceable.’ And how do you stop that?”
Governor Rauner said through a spokesperson Wednesday that he “has concerns about what 3-D printed guns mean for public safety. Our office is taking a serious look at this issue.”