Politicians routinely attack the Second Amendment, but it’s rare that they will go after the First. That changes with House Resolution 7115, a broad bill that seeks to prohibit the marketing of unfinished gun parts.
On November 2, Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and 16 co-sponsors introduced HR 7115, a broad bill that “prohibit[s] the sale, acquisition, distribution in commerce, or import into the United States of certain firearm receiver castings or blanks, assault weapon parts kits, and machinegun parts kits and the marketing or advertising of such castings or blanks and kits on any medium of electronic communications, to require homemade firearms to have serial numbers, and for other purposes.”
The Reps request the act be referred to by the misleading title the “3-D Firearms Prohibitions Act,” though the proposed regulations on unfinished firearms specifically target 80-percent completed receivers and not 3-D printed firearms. These only represent a small portion of the bill.
The most alarming part is Section 3; the so-called “Prohibition Of Advertising Do-It-Yourself Assault Weapons” segment seeks to prohibit advertising of any “firearm receiver casting or firearm receiver blank or unfinished handgun frame…”
Of course, the ambiguous “assault weapons” moniker is used in the language contained in HR 7115, but the law seems aimed at any unfinished receiver. The vague language could be used to prohibit home gunsmithing at some point, preventing commerce involving portions of firearms such as gas blocks and trigger components.
Thus, the bill seeks to side step existing regulations put in place by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and turns over enforcement duties on the Federal Trade Commission as part of Consumer Product Safety Act. For those not familiar, the Consumer Product Safety Act was designed to provide the FTC with a mechanism to recall defective child safety seats, not censor first Amendment rights. Legal scholars will tell you that the CPSA specifically “excludes from jurisdiction those products that expressly lie in another federal agency's jurisdiction, for example food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, tobacco products, firearms and ammunition, motor vehicles, pesticides, aircraft, and boats.”
Time will tell if the bill will pass, but it’s not likely. A 95-year old California law that banned handgun ads at gun shops was ruled to be "unconstitutional on its face" by a federal judge, whom also called the state out for its "paternalistic" assumption that its residents can't make their own decisions.