The potential impact of 3-D printed guns — or “ghost guns,” as they have come to be known — has caused great concern. Many believe that homemade, untraceable weapons would be a nightmare not only for America but for Black Americans in particular in today’s volatile social climate.
Rolling out spoke with U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, a Democrat who represents Georgia’s Fourth Congressional District which encompasses several large counties a few miles east of Atlanta. Johnson has held office since 2007 and sits on the U.S. Judiciary Committee on Armed Services and the Committee of the Judiciary. He has been a stalwart supporter of issues that have affected the economically disenfranchised, and ghost guns are a grave concern.
Are you in support of a national ban on 3-D printed guns? Why or why not?
Yes. In fact, I’m an original co-sponsor of [Democrat Rhode Island] Congressman David Cicilline’s bill banning 3-D guns. It’s simply too dangerous to allow firearms that lack serial numbers and can’t be detected at airports’, schools’, courthouses’ and sports stadiums’ security checkpoints to be mass produced using 3-D technology.
Has the Congressional Black Caucus officially weighed in on the subject of 3-D printed guns?
Not yet. At least not that I know of. Might want to check with Chairman [Cedric] Richmond’s office.
Do you think that 3-D printed guns would increase gun violence in the Black community?
I don’t know if it would necessarily increase violence in our communities, but I think these devices would make us less safe.
Looking at news stories about known armed domestic militants, who have stockpiled arms and ammunition and illegally occupied federal property, are ghost guns good policy at this time in America? Why or why not?
I don’t see anything redeeming about these so-called “ghost guns.” It’s not good policy to put yet more firearms on our streets. There are no societal benefits of allowing 3-D guns to get into the hands of criminals, domestic abusers or terrorists that could be used against civilians and law enforcement officials.
The case of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was killed by a police officer while playing with a toy gun in a park, shocked the nation. Should Black parents, in particular, be worried about 3-D printed guns?
Black parents should be concerned about this if there are gun blueprints online. Anyone can make a gun, and there would be fewer restrictions on who could use or create guns. This is dangerous.
Do you agree with NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch that the ability to download plans and print an untraceable working firearm symbolizes “freedom and innovation”? Why or why not?
No. In December 2013, a federal law requiring that all guns be detectable by metal screening machines was extended for another 10 years. The law prohibits guns that don’t contain enough metal to trigger screening machines commonly found in airports, courthouses and other secure areas accessible to the public. Plastic gun designs got around this restriction by adding a removable metal block, which isn’t required for the firearm to function. I call this exploiting a loophole — not being innovative.