Dear Chairman Goodlatte and Chairman Royce:
We write to demand that you urgently schedule a joint hearing of the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs Committees to examine the recent settlement by the State Department and Department of Justice's in the Defense Distributed et al v. U.S. Department of State case.
One week from today, Defense Distributed will be allowed to publish instructions for making guns at home. Using an inexpensive 3-D printer, anyone will be able to use these blueprints to turn modest raw materials into untraceable, fully functional firearms. So-called "ghost guns" do not bear a manufacturer's serial number and may be constructed using plastic materials that are impossible to screen at security checkpoints using metal detectors, like many used to keep guns out of airport terminals by the Transportation Security Administration. The free flow of this information on the internet will allow anyone to circumvent the Arms Export Control Act. More alarmingly, under the settlement anyone, even those who couldn't pass a background check, will be able to access these plans to print a gun with just a few clicks. These blueprints will allow individuals who have been convicted of felonies to skirt state and federal laws that prevent them from possessing firearms and put guns directly into dangerous hands. This settlement will put American lives at risk, and it demands our urgent attention.
The Trump Administration's decision to settle this case will only worsen the gun violence epidemic in America. This week, we marked the 20th anniversary of the assassination of two U.S. Capitol Police Officers on Capitol Hill. On July 24, 1998, Detective John M. Gibson and Officer Jacob J. Chestnut were shot and killed. In the 20 years since, Congress has spent millions of taxpayer dollars to harden the Capitol complex against attacks. We've added protective barriers, a new visitors center, and security checkpoints with scanners and metal detectors. Sadly, after 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, 10 people were killed at Santa Fe High School in Texas, and more than 20 other shootings in 2018, schools around the country are now engaging in a similar process of hardening their schools. They have to do this because guns are too easy to get in America. It's too easy for people who are not safe and responsible gun owners to get them. Unfortunately, Congress has offered only thoughts, prayers, and modest school security funding instead of making serious efforts to stop gun violence in America.
Now, with this settlement, even those efforts will be in vain. We shouldn't have to wait for someone to kill someone in a House office building after sneaking past security with a plastic 3-D printed gun to do something to stop this. And we can't let another day go by allowing the paralysis and dysfunction of Congress to prevent us from making our communities safe.
The time to act was decades ago, but we failed. Let's do something now.