standing Rhode Island State House

PROVIDENCE — A group of Senate Democrats is proposing a complete ban on 3-D printed firearms in Rhode Island. The lead sponsors are Sens. Cynthia A. Coyne, of Barrington, and Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Erin Lynch Prata, of Warwick.

"With 3-D guns, criminals seeking guns would be able to bypass background checks, age restrictions and gun licensing rules," Coyne said. "This is a terrifying precedent, a blow to public safety and a huge potential tragedy in the making. We must not wait for the federal government or the courts to solve this problem. We can and must move now in Rhode Island to address this issue."

The bill would make it illegal to manufacture, import, sell, ship, deliver, possess, transfer or receive any firearm that is made from plastic, fiberglass or created through a 3-D printing process. It would ban any other firearm that is undetectable by metal detector.

The bill sets penalties of up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.

Coyne said the ban was proposed in an October report of the Rhode Island Working Group for Gun Safety, a task force that assembled after the school massacre in Parkland, Fla.

In June, the federal government allowed Defense Distributed, an online open-source publisher, to post free blueprints for a plastic pistol. The decision followed years of litigation over constitutional issues. A federal judge issued a restraining order in July, but the plans continued to be available on other sites. Nineteen states, including Rhode Island and Connecticut, have sued to block the blueprints.

"As we struggle to fight the gun epidemic in this country and make it more difficult for children, criminals and the mentally ill to possess firearms, 3-D-printed guns would suddenly make it easier for anyone worldwide to do just that,” Coyne said. “Anyone with Internet access and a 3-D printer would be able to make weapons that are undetectable and — since they have no serial numbers — untraceable.”

The legislation is co-sponsored by Democratic Sens. Joshua Miller, of Cranston, William J. Conley Jr., East Providence, and James A. Seveney, Portsmouth.

— Jason Vallee

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