***VIDEO/PHOTO RELEASE*** Menendez, School & Law Enforcement Officials Make Clear the Threat of 3D-Printed “Ghost Guns”

***VIDEO/PHOTO RELEASE*** Menendez, School & Law Enforcement Officials Make Clear the Threat of 3D-Printed “Ghost Guns”

Menendez continues fight to stop the Trump Administration, protect New Jersey

   

Download photos here

 

CLIFFSIDE PARK, N.J. -- U.S. Senator Bob Menendez today joined local law enforcement, members of Moms Demand Action and March for Our Lives at Cliffside Park #5 Elementary School to talk about the threat to the safety of New Jersey’s families from an influx of untraceable, nearly undetectable, 3D printable plastic guns.  Earlier this week, Sen. Menendez and a group of Democratic colleagues introduced legislation that would ban the manufacture or sale of any untraceable weapon and outlaw the online publication of blueprints for downloadable plastic guns. The actions follow the U.S. State Department’s sudden settlement with Defense Distributed, which permitted the company to publish online schematics to 3D-print firearms like the AR-15, used in the deadly Parkland school shooting.

“We have already seen too much gun violence, too much suicide, and my God, too many young people slaughtered in mass shootings,” Sen. Menendez said.  “How dare the Trump Administration open the floodgates to a new possible threat in our schools, on our airplanes and across our communities?  Make no mistake, do-it-yourself plastic guns are just as deadly, but all the more menacing because they are undetectable, untraceable and anyone with an internet connection can download the instructions to print one.” [A full transcript of the Senator’s remarks are at the bottom of this release]

CLICK TO WATCH SEN. MENENDEZ’S REMARKS

 

“We already have a gun violence problem in this country – 96 Americans die daily from gun violence, seven of those being children under 18. And our gun suicide rates are actually on the rise,” said Larisa Mendez Downes, Bergen County Group Co-Lead for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “So why would we purposely exacerbate that problem by allowing downloadable, undetectable and untraceable guns into our communities? Why would we make it harder for our law enforcement agencies to enforce our laws and prevent crime and acts of terrorism?”

 

 

CLICK TO WATCH LARISA’S REMARKS

 

“I am a member of a generation that has grown up under the constant shadow of gun violence. We have no memory of attending school without regular active shooter drills. When we go to a movie, a concert, or even religious services, we look for exits and places to hide because we know all too well what could happen,” said 17 year-old Elena Perez of Bergen County March for our Lives. “If all of this weren’t enough, now we face a new, even more dangerous threat. A reality where someone with a 3D printer and some basic supplies can create untraceable weapons in their own home. No background check, no registration and no traceability.”

 

CLICK TO WATCH ELENA’S REMARKS

“The brave men and women on my force, and every force in our State and Nation, are already faced with the challenges of keeping our students safe at school. The last thing we need is the added threat of untraceable, undetectable guns to induce panic and provide more cause for concern,” said Richard Gaito, Chief of Police of Cliffside Park. “I want to thank Senator Menendez for introducing these two important pieces of legislation and for his continued leadership on this issue. Your support both in New Jersey, and in Washington is critical to the safety of children here in our state, and in the entire country.”

 

 

CLICK TO WATCH CHIEF GAITO’S REMARKS

Earlier this week, Sen. Menendez joined a group of Democratic Senators to introduce two pieces of legislation to combat the threat posed from the spread of 3D printable guns.  The 3D Printing Safety Act would immediately and permanently stop Defense Distributed -- or any other American online source -- from releasing the digital blueprints for downloadable 3D printed guns.  Sen. Menendez went to the Senate floor to try and unanimously pass this emergency bill, but Republicans blocked the vote.  Later, a federal judge in Seattle issued a temporary restraining order to halt the publication of the blueprints, but not before the files were downloaded thousands of times.

The second bill, the Untraceable Firearms Act of 2018 would close a loophole in current law by banning the manufacture or sale of any do-it-yourself gun-kits that cannot be detected or traced.  

As Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Menendez will also take a series of additional actions which follow his call last week for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to stop the public release of the blueprints, arguing the Department’s action ran afoul of the federal Arms Export Control Act. These actions include:

  • Preventing confirmation of Trump’s nominee for the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, which is has jurisdiction over programs to stop the proliferation of unregulated arms, including 3D printed firearms, until the Administration takes definitive action to prohibit the sharing of 3D gun production information; or Republicans in Congress allow legislative action.
  • Introducing legislation that would prohibit the transfer of small arms/light weapons, and the technical manufacturing information related to them, to the looser export controls of the Department of Commerce; prohibit the ability of the State Department to suspend the International Traffic in Arms Regulations without 30-day prior notice; and establish that one of the purposes of putting defense articles (guns and gun parts) on the U.S. Munitions List is to control the export of such articles that are highly susceptible to proliferation, reproduction, or use in human rights abuses.

Senator Menendez’s full remarks:

Driving here today, I could not help but think of the 20 schoolchildren so brutally taken from us in Newtown, Connecticut back in 2012.  It’s unfortunate, and I would add unacceptable, that in 2018 our schools are still a place where we need to come together to discuss gun safety.

Tragedies like those in Parkland, Florida and Santa Fe Texas have reminded us of this painful reality; a reality reinforced by a Republican Congress in Washington that puts the NRA over the safety of our children.  So again I want to thank the student leaders with us today. When the youth of America speaks, the adults of America should listen. Your voices have never mattered more.

We have already seen too much gun violence, too much suicide, and my God, too many young people slaughtered in mass shootings.  Now, we’re facing a new frontier in the gun violence epidemic -- the threat posed by plastic, 3-D printed guns that are untraceable, undetectable, and completely unaccountable.

I think we can all agree that it doesn’t matter if a gun is made from metal, from plastic, or some combination of metal and plastic. If it loads like a gun, shoots like a gun, and kills like a gun, then it must be regulated like a gun.

Last week, the Trump Administration tried to give extremists a greenlight to post downloadable blueprints for 3D printed guns online for the world to see. For criminals to see. For terrorists to see. For future mass shooters to see. To call the Administration’s actions irresponsible would be too kind. This is appalling. It’s a reckless abandonment of our federal government’s first responsibility, which is too keep the American people safe.

Already, it’s too easy for guns to fall into the wrong hands in this country. It’s too easy for someone on the terrorist watch list to get a gun. It’s too easy for someone with a history of violent behavior or domestic abuse to get a gun.  But now, thanks to the Trump Administration, it will be even easier.

These so-called “ghost guns” are as terrifying as they sound. They can pass through metal detectors undetected. They have no serial numbers, so law enforcement can’t trace them. And anyone with access to a 3D printer can make themselves a firearm with no background check at all.

I led an effort in the Senate to stop this nightmare from becoming a reality. But Republicans once again stood in the way of action. They are refusing to consider two key pieces of legislation – the 3D Printing Safety Act and the Untraceable Firearms Act of 2018 – that could help us better protect our schools and our families from the dangers of do-it-yourself downloadable guns.

And while I’m glad a federal court ordered the company behind these blueprints – Defense Distributed – to take them down, a temporary order is just that. Temporary.

And I fear the damage done to the safety of our schools and the security of our country is permanent.  Already, thousands of people have downloaded these lethal blueprints.

This has become a bell that cannot be unrung. In fact within 24 hours of the court order, a site hosted out of Canada popped up and put the blueprints back online.

Indeed, even the blueprint for an AR-15, the weapon used in the Parkland school shooting, is now available for download by terrorists, extremists, criminals, domestic abusers, you name it.

The fault here lies with the Trump Administration. They opened up a Pandora’s box of new threats that our local law enforcement will have to deal with for years to come.

Some have naively claimed there’s no reason for concern because 3D printers are too expensive for the average Joe. They clearly haven’t been paying attention to the dizzying pace of innovation transforming our world.

It wasn’t so long ago that it cost hundreds of dollars to get an HD video camera. Today, I have one in my iPhone and can Facetime with my granddaughter any time I want.
A decade ago, 3D printers weighed hundreds of pounds and costed thousands and thousands of dollars. Today, for a few hundred bucks you can put one on your desk.

Look, the next generation is more tech-savvy than ever. Children are learning how to code in grade school. Pre-teens have written best-selling apps. And 3D printing has tremendous potential for medicine, for manufacturing, and so much more. There’s incredible educational value to 3D printing as well – schools purchase them so that students can design works of art and discover the innovators inside them.

The bottom line is that with new technology comes new responsibility. We cannot let innovation to render our background check system or federal gun safety laws obsolete.

Due to the gun industry’s death grip on Congress, we’re already failing to keep our kids safe.  Gun–related injuries are now the third leading cause of death among America’s children.  We must do more to keep guns away from our kids and out of the hands of those who would do them harm. And that includes guns you can print off the internet.

We’re approaching six months since 17 students were murdered in Parkland – and this President has done absolutely nothing to save lives. Instead, his Administration has put more children in danger.

How can Republicans in Congress stand by as this Administration opens the biggest loophole in our federal gun laws ever?  A loophole that let’s anyone who wants a gun to print a gun with no federal background check at all.

Enough is enough. These ghost-guns are untraceable, they are undetectable, and that makes them unacceptable.  It’s time we strengthen our background check system – not give criminals the digital tools to go around it.  It’s time we get weapons of mass murder off of our streets – not give gangs permission to print their own.  It’s time we stop suspected terrorists from buying weapons – not equip them with the blueprints to build them.

They say actions have consequences. Well, I believe it’s time we send a message to Republicans in Washington that INACTION has consequences too.  And those consequences include the loss of American lives. The deaths of innocent children. And even more heartbreak for the American people.

We can’t let that happen. We must take action. I’m committed to doing so – and I am going to get to the bottom of how this happened.

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