Metro, News

State poised to ban 3-D-printed guns, ‘ghost guns’

Bill passes through House 60-6, Senate 34-3, still to be signed into law by governor

Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, February 27, 2020

In recent efforts to increase gun control, Rhode Island Congress passed a gun prohibition bill supported by the governor and attorney general.

In the first six weeks of the 2020 Legislative Session, both chambers of the Rhode Island General Assembly passed bills which outlaw 3-D-printed guns and other untraceable or undetectable firearms, better known as ‘ghost guns.’ With supporters including Governor Gina Raimondo and Attorney General Peter Neronha P’22, advocates hope that the bill’s legislative progress will become part of broader efforts toward gun control legislation in Rhode Island.

“Ghost gun legislation is important because (it would) make it illegal for folks to circumvent the normal licensing and regulation around buying guns,” said Katherine Kerwin, Providence councilwoman and director of communications for the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence. Ghost guns are particularly dangerous because of their ability to slip through metal detectors due to their plastic hardware and their lack of serial numbers, Kerwin added.

The Senate passed the legislation Jan. 29, with a vote of 34-3. The House passed a similar bill Feb. 13, with a 60-6 vote, on the same day as the “Valentines Not Gun Violence” rally organized by Thoughts Prayers Action, a University gun violence prevention group, The Herald previously reported.

If signed into law by Gov. Raimondo, the legislation would prohibit the manufacture, importation, sale, shipment, delivery or transfer of any ghost gun or 3-D printed firearm that could elude metal detectors.

“No matter what you think about the Second Amendment, no matter what side of the issue people typically fall on, it seems really obvious that you shouldn’t be able to manufacture a weapon without a serial number,” said Gabe Mernoff ’22, co-director of the University’s chapter of Thoughts Prayers Action.

“It’s not going to be the easiest thing to enforce; it’s going to be hard to prevent people from 3-D printing, with private 3-D printers,” Mernoff said. But he added that “It’s important to at least set a standard.”

Representative David Place (R – Burrillville, Glocester) is among those who do not support the ghost gun legislation. “I don’t believe the bill actually accomplishes anything,” Place said. “Federal law already makes these types of firearms illegal. The only thing we did by passing this legislation was give our criminal justice, our prosecutors and our law enforcement another tool to over-prosecute anybody.”

Similar ghost gun-banning legislation was introduced last year, but did not get a vote. “Generally, the House and the Senate, particularly the House, are not super in favor of any gun violence prevention policy,” Kerwin said. “And so they’re not really inclined to pass gun violence prevention bills, even low-hanging fruit ones, which the ghost gun ban is considered” to be, she said.

Supporters of the bill hope that this year will be different, with many optimistic that banning ghost guns will be among a host of common sense gun legislation passed by the General Assembly this session. Other gun control legislation that has recently been introduced includes a bill which would increase regulation of high-capacity magazines and the banning of assault weapons.

“We … should be passing some common sense legislation that will help prevent gun injuries and deaths,” said Representative Rebecca Kislak (D – Providence), who voted in support of the passage of the House bill. “I think that it’s generally important to treat gun violence and gun injuries and deaths as a public health problem, because they are.”


  1. Plastic is detectable by airport X-Ray machines. Plastic guns must still have a metal barrel and firing pin.
    People who know nothing about guns should not be writing and passing anti-gun laws.
    At least a few intelligent people are in your State legislature, they’re called Republicans.

  2. “We … should be passing some common sense legislation that will help prevent gun injuries and deaths,” said Representative Rebecca Kislak (D – Providence)

    How exactly does this legislation do that? Somehow, I’m missing the “common sense” part. The advocates for this law seem to be completely ignorant of firearms in general. It’s pretty hard display common sense when you have zero knowledge on a subject. Individuals have been making their own firearms since they were invented a thousand years ago. It wasn’t a problem then, and it isn’t now. What you’re really trying to legislate is human behavior, good luck. This is just another “feel good” law for ineffectual legislators. Now they can point and say, “See… we did something!”

  3. “Oh look, they ‘banned’ 3D printed guns. How nice.” *machine hums*

    I don’t think these people are fully grasping the point of the tech. The POINT is to make their pathetic little “bans” MOOT.

    But, i suppose little more can be expected from people so small to believe their town is a whole state.

  4. Your knowledge about guns is the same level of knowledge that a sailor generally has about farming something that you know nothing about but refuse to find someone who actually knows about the subject and make laws which the subject of those laws this “Ghost guns” are basically non existent or vague the fully plastic 3D printed gun can only fire one round and it is unsafe proven as there is a video of it and the guy is unsure about firing the gun from his hand and bullets must be made out of metal otherwise the powder will blow up the gun and becoming a danger to the welder and those around it

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