STATE HOUSE – The General Assembly today approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Cynthia A. Coyne and Rep. Patricia A. Serpa to prohibit the manufacturing, transfer, purchase or possessing of any plastic, fiberglass or 3-D printed gun, as well as “ghost guns,” untraceable guns and undetectable guns.
The legislation, which now heads to the governor’s desk, is meant to help eliminate weapons that skirt protect public safety protections. Gov. Gina M. Raimondo has publicly indicated her intent to sign it into law.
“Ghost guns, 3-D printed guns and undetectable plastic guns can easily facilitate criminal activity because they totally bypass the safeguards that protect the public. Our state laws should be very clear that possessing, creating or selling them is a criminal act, and we should be doing everything we can to keep these dangerous weapons from proliferating here,” said Senator Coyne (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence).
Said Representative Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick), “While I am a strong proponent of people’s right to bear arms, these devices simply lack the safety, reliability and accountability of conventional firearms and have become a menace to society.”
The legislation (2020-S 2004B, 2020-H 7102Aaa) prohibits anyone from manufacturing, selling, offering to sell, transferring, purchasing, possessing, or having under his or her control any firearm that is made from plastic, fiberglass or through a 3-D printing process; or a ghost gun — one that lacks a serial number under the requirements of the Federal Gun Control Act of 1968; or one that would be undetectable by a metal detector after removal of all parts other than a major component, or whose major component would not generate an accurate image if subjected to the type of screening equipment used at airports and public buildings.
The bill sets a punishment for violations at up to 10 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines, and is enforceable 30 days after it becomes law.
The legislation is supported by Attorney General Peter F. Neronha, the State Police, the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence and Rhode Island Moms Demand Action.
Regardless of lawsuits, federal decisions and restraining orders preventing their original authors from posting them online, blueprints for 3-D printed firearms remain available over the Internet, allowing those with access to a 3-D printer to create an untraceable plastic gun.
Banning 3-D printed guns was one of the recommendations made in 2018 by the Rhode Island Working Group for Gun Safety, a 43-member task force that was assembled following the school shooting in Parkland, Fla.