A Republican running for Senate is trying to win over Missouri voters by giving one of them a machine that can be used to print untraceable 3D gun parts. “This technology has the potential to send gun control into the ash heap of history," he explained.
Austin Petersen, a former model turned libertarian activist turned GOP Senate hopeful, is giving the device known as the “Ghost Gunner 2" to one lucky constituent, and he's right on time. Earlier this month, the Trump administration quietly settled a long-stalled lawsuit with a Texas-based company called Defense Distributed, which cleared the way for it to resume uploading blueprints for a range of 3D guns, including shotguns and AR-15s, on Aug. 1.
Since news of the settlement broke, gun control advocates and lawmakers have been scrambling for ways to reverse the decision. They’re worried by the fact that 3D-printed guns and “ghost guns,” which are assembled from DIY kits, are generally untraceable and unregulated.
“I think the new prize may trigger a few more liberals and mainstream media than it did last time,” Petersen said in a news release.
Hard-line Second Amendment advocates like Petersen view the technology as an opportunity to elude federal efforts to regulate the firearms industry.
“The Ghost Gunner 2 is a device which allows you to build an untraceable AR-15 80 percent lower with ease. No paperwork/registration are needed,” Petersen wrote in a statement online.
“This is about freedom, innovation, and going on the offense when it comes to the Second Amendment,” wrote Heather Coil, Petersen’s communications director, in an email to VICE News. “For too long, the Right has been making small concessions in the name of public safety at the expense of law-abiding gun owners. Austin Petersen has no compromise to offer on our Second Amendment rights.”
It's not the first time Petersen has relied on controversial gun-giveaway tactics to curry favor with his base. Last September, Facebook banned Peterson for 30 days after he promoted an AR-15. (After public outcry from his supporters, the social media company reversed their decision halfway through the 30-day period).
According to the St Louis Post-Dispatch, at least six Missouri political campaigns ran gun giveaways in this year alone.
Petersen, who is lagging in the race, is one of 11 GOP candidates vying for incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill’s seat in the Senate.
Cover image: Seized plastic made guns produced by a 3D printer are displayed at a police station in Yokohama on May 8, 2014. JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images.