Washington state lawmakers have approved a bill to prohibit the manufacture or possession of so-called “ghost guns” made by 3D printers.
The House voted 56-40 on Tuesday to agree with a Senate amendment to HB 1739, sponsored by Rep. Javier Valdez, D-Seattle. Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to sign the bill into law.
“3D printers are becoming more advanced and more available to everyday consumers,” said Valdez. “These undetectable guns pose enormous threats to public safety. This is one of those issues that requires lawmakers to be proactive before it’s too late.”
Rep. Morgan Irwin, an Enumclaw Republican, said several GOP lawmakers opposed the bill because it’s already illegal under federal law to manufacture a firearm that is undetectable by walk-through metal detectors or doesn’t generate an accurate image by airport detection machines.
“You can be penalized at the federal level and the state level and that makes some folks uncomfortable with the bill,” Irwin said.
The measure, which also makes it a crime to send a printable gun file to a person who is ineligible to possess firearms, was requested by Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
“I support the Second Amendment. However, we cannot allow felons and other dangerous individuals to get around our state’s background-check requirements by printing untraceable, undetectable 3D-printed guns,” Ferguson said in statement. “Guns that evade metal detectors pose too great a risk to the safety of our communities.”
In January, when Ferguson testified at a committee meeting in favor of the bill, he said it was aimed at a Texas nonprofit, Defense Distributed, that wanted to place computer-aided design files on its website that people could download to make guns without undergoing background checks.
Ferguson sued the Trump Administration in 2018 over its decision to allow the unlimited distribution of downloadable files for 3D-printed guns. A federal judge blocked the Trump Administration’s decision, writing that “the untraceable and undetectable nature of these small firearms … poses a unique danger.” The lawsuit is pending.
In February, a Dallas, Texas man who was barred by a judge from possessing a firearm after a violent altercation with his girlfriend was sentenced to eight years in prison after a jury found him guilty of possessing an unregistered short barrel rifle and unlawfully possessing ammunition.
Prosecutors said Eric McGinnis of Dallas obtained a barrel, stock, upper receiver and grip for an AR-15-style rifle and then used a 3D printer to create the firing mechanism. McGinnis had a “hit list” of Democratic and Republican lawmakers titled, “9/11/2001 list of American Terrorists,” when he was arrested in 2017, authorities said.