A temporary restraining order delaying the online publication of blueprints for 3D-printed guns is making national headlines, drawing reactions from both sides of the aisle in Santa Clarita.
On July 31, a federal judge in Seattle issued the order on Cody Wilson, a Second Amendment proponent who seeks to publish the blueprints. The court’s concern was that the technology could allow criminals and terrorists to build undetectable firearms, as printed guns do not have serial numbers like guns on the market.
A follow-up hearing in Seattle is slated for Friday.
Rep. Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, said he had reached no formal conclusion on how to treat the guns and wanted to wait for further court hearings first.
“I think this is more of a First Amendment issue than a Second Amendment gun issue,” he said. “We’re talking about information that we are banning someone from putting out on the internet.”
“I do believe we have to first get through the hearing (Aug. 10) and look at what may be a freedom of speech issue,” he said. “It’s not a Second Amendment issue, because then we’d be saying, ‘You can’t have that gun,’ and I want to find out where we are in terms of information.”
Katie Hill, the Democratic challenger for Knight’s seat in the November election, said Congress needs to put measures in place to stop the black market of untraceable guns.
“When they aren’t traceable, it’s even more dangerous,” she said. “These guns don’t require background checks. You can pay cash and get them completely off the radar and we don’t have any control over that. So that’s the real danger.”
Hill said her issue with the 3D-printed guns is they sidestep the law’s background checks and waiting periods, and should be made illegal to possess.
“If it’s going outside the law for people to create and obtain guns, then it should be illegal,” she said. “Is it going to stop everyone from doing it? No. But there should be consequences in place. If someone starts printing these guns, they need to be held accountable.”
Quin Quinteros, an organizer of Santa Clarita Valley Concealed Carry Group, considers 3D-printed guns similar to licensed firearms, but with less regulations. He said their availability is not newsworthy.
“I think a person with half a brain and spare parts could build a gun in his garage,” he said. “People are making a big deal about those things, and they’re losing focus on what the real issues are.”
Quinteros was skeptical about regulations for these guns.
“The criminals are not going to obey the laws even if you make them,” he said. “This will be out there for anybody and everybody to use. How would they regulate it? You can put laws into place for law-abiding citizens, but the thing that’s missing is the problem with the mental illness that goes along with people who are committing these horrible crimes, and they’re blaming it on the gun.”
Philip Germain, organizer of the local activist organization 25Up, said 3D-printed guns were different from the mainstream gun debate.
“This company (that wants to release 3D-printed gun blueprints) has been defiantly spreading as far as they can,” he said. “You shouldn’t have the right to print a weapon at your house. With the amount of weapons available already, why do people have the need to print plastic at home? If you can’t get one legally, then why do you need to print one at home? It’s a public safety issue.”
Quinteros said the country’s mental health system is the real issue and the guns debate took away from it.
“No sane person would commit a school shooting,” he said. “We’re not focusing on the kids. We’re focused more on the guns instead of the real problem, and FBI and law enforcement are not doing those jobs.”
Hill said that, no matter what, 3D-printed guns could be relatively stopped with the law.
“On the individual side, we need to say that this is something that should not be made more readily available and it should be a punishable offense,” she said. “We can’t stop everybody, but the principle of it is saying it’s not OK, because it goes around the law.”