Editors Note: Peoria County Sheriff Brian Asbell and Bartonville Police Chief Brian Fengel are both running for Peoria County Sheriff in the November election. Community Word asked both men to write a letter-to-the-editor spelling out their positions on guns created by 3D printers.
Peoria County Sheriff Brian Asbell
As Sheriff, I swore under oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of both the United States and State of Illinois. I value the First and Second Amendments; however, I will be curt with my opinion on the argument that blueprints for 3D-printed guns should be protected as free speech and subsequently be available to the public via the internet or other means. In my opinion, this is dangerous and outside the scope of protected speech. A gun made from a 3D printer will be virtually invisible to metal detectors, causing great risk to our schools, courthouses, jails and airports. A 3D-printed gun could be made without any identifying characteristics, making these firearms untraceable if used in a crime. Regulatory laws controlling who can (legally) purchase and possess firearms will be compromised; printing a gun would not require a background check or FOID card, potentially providing access to individuals with a history of mental illness or disqualifying criminal records. For these reasons I am opposed to any ruling which will allow blueprints for these firearms to be accessible to the public. We would be absurd to believe these types of guns would not be used in criminal acts. Even though it is reported these firearms are unreliable products with limited firing capacity, it only takes one bullet to kill another human being. We have a difficult time already keeping illegal firearms off the street and 3D-printed guns will only jeopardize our nation’s safety at an entirely different level.
Bartonville Police Chief Brian Fengel
Recently, the issue of 3D-printed gun designs available online resurfaced in a series of published communications between several state attorneys general and the U.S. State and Justice Departments. At issue is whether the designer has the First Amendment right to publish his/her work; and, does the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms apply to untraceable firearms or firearm component parts created from the published instructions.
Where does public safety fall into the discussion? Current federal law mandates that every firearm contain a quantity of metal sufficient for detection by a properly calibrated walk-through metal detector. As technology evolves though, it’s incumbent upon legislators to create new and update existing laws accordingly. Future common sense legislation should mandate that if a 3D-printed component part is necessary to create a fully-functioning firearm, that item should bear a traceable, identifying number.
I am an advocate of Second Amendment rights and, of course, the First Amendment that affords freedom of speech. I am a career law man dedicated to community safety and prosperity. As Peoria County Sheriff, my team will investigate violations of law and refer cases for prosecution when appropriate.