Menendez Urges Twitter to Take Down Links to 3D Printable Gun Blueprints

Menendez Urges Twitter to Take Down Links to 3D Printable Gun Blueprints

‘I do not believe one of the country’s most prominent tech companies should be facilitating access to these deadly weapons.’

 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today called on Twitter to block users from publicizing links to downloadable blueprints for 3D-printed firearms.  In August, a federal judge blocked the Administration’s decision to allow Internet distribution of downloadable files for 3D-printed guns until the matter is resolved in court.

“3-D printed lethal weaponry pose a unique risk to the public as they cannot easily or reliably be detected by metal detectors at airports, schools, governmental or other facilities.  At a time when the firearm death rate is at an historic high, I do not believe one of the country’s most prominent tech companies should be facilitating access to these deadly weapons,” Senator Menendez wrote in a letter to Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey. “I ask that you take immediate steps to remove such links, as well as the ability to directly message these links from your platform.”

The Administration recently announced that it had pushed to weaken regulation of foreign arms sales—including technical information and blueprints of 3D printable guns and the export of semi-automatic pistols, assault-style rifles, sniper rifles and ammunition from the United States Munition List—by taking steps to transfer control of their export from authority of the Department of State to the Department of Commerce.

“These moves are designed to strangle Congressional oversight and make it easier for anyone, anywhere in the world, to craft a dangerous and undetectable homemade gun,” added the Senator.

The Senator asked Twitter to explain what it’s specifically doing to ensure that users aren’t using its social media platform for unlawful purposes. 

The full text of the letter is available here and below.

Dear Mr. Dorsey,

I write to express concern regarding Twitter’s decision to allow its users to publicize links to downloadable blueprints for 3D-printed firearms. I ask that you take immediate steps to remove such links, as well as the ability to directly message these links from your platform. As you may know, in June 2018, the Department of State suddenly settled a years-long lawsuit brought by gun activist Cody Wilson that began after the federal government blocked his company’s website, Defense Distributed, for posting directions for a 3-D plastic printable pistol, citing international export law.[1] Several states sued, and in August 2018 federal judge in Washington state blocked the Administration’s decision to legalize distribution of downloadable files for 3D-printed guns until the matter is resolved in court.[2] 3D-printed lethal weaponry pose a unique risk to the public as they cannot easily or reliably be detected by metal detectors at airports, schools, governmental or other facilities. At a time when firearm death rate is at a historic high [3], I do not believe one of the country’s most prominent tech companies should be facilitating access to these deadly weapons. 

In January 2019, the Trump Administration announced that it had taken steps to transfer control of the export of semi-automatic pistols, assault-style rifles, sniper rifles and ammunition from the United States Munition List under the authority of the Department of State to the less-stringent controls of the Department of Commerce.[4]  It would also transfer the control of the technical information and blueprints for 3D printing of nearly undetectable firearms to Commerce, where the lax regulations will facilitate the Internet publication worldwide.[5]  These moves are designed to strangle Congressional oversight and make it easier for anyone, anywhere in the world, to craft a dangerous and undetectable homemade gun.

On February 22, 2019 the user @IvanTheTroll12 tweeted his plans to release blueprints for a 3D-printed AR-15 firearm.[6] The following day, @IvanTheTroll12 tweeted a direct download link to a website whereby anyone is free to download the blueprints.[7] Given the court order in effect, if foreign users are able to access the website and the blueprints, the publication of these blueprints violates the law. I urge you to take immediate action to remove the publication of the links. In addition, I would like to know what Twitter is doing to ensure that other users do not use your platform for such nefarious and potentially unlawful actions in the future. Thank you in advance for your cooperation and I look forward to your timely response.

Sincerely, 

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