A Manifoldly Unconstitutional Bill

I have a legislative alert for SurvivalBlog readers: H.R. 7115, the “3D Firearms Prohibitions Act” is on its face perhaps one of the most unconstitutional laws ever written. It is sponsored by Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr., Democrat, of New Jersey. It will most likely be reintroduced in the 116th Congress. This proposed law, introduced on November 2, 2018, is purported to ban 3D printed guns. But it is actually about milling (subtractive) technology rather than 3D printing (additive) technology. I have news for Mr. Pallone: All guns are “3D”, once they are off the drawing board!

Pallone’s bill goes far beyond milling machine processes. It would ban firearms parts kits, ban electronic publishing about 80% receivers offered for sale, require the owners of receiver blanks to beg the issuance of a serial number before then can be milled, and even retroactively bans unserialized receivers that have been made since 1968. It also arbitrarily sets a 90 day limit for number stamping/engraving and completion of the receiver. You can read the full text of the bill, here.

The summary preamble to H.R. 7115 reads: “To prohibit 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.” But even a cursory reading of Pallone’s bill shows that it is blatantly unconstitutional, in many ways. Here are a few: Amazon.com $150 Gift C... Check Amazon for Pricing.

  • The proposed law violates the 1st Amendment by making it illegal to communicate to others about the availability of certain gun parts.
  • The proposed law violates the 2nd Amendment. If anything, battle rifles deserve the strongest protection of the 2nd Amendment, since those are the guns most suitable for use by the citizen militia. But Pallone’s law focuses on them and their component parts as a supposed “banned hazardous products”.
  • The proposed law violates the 4th Amendment because it eliminates the inherent privacy of citizens in assembling guns from parts of their own manufacture or that have no bearing on interstate commerce. It also violates our privacy by forcing us to beg for serial number assignments for already legally-possessed guns from Federal Firearms License holders.
  • The proposed law violates the 5th Amendment by requiring the owners of post-1968 unserialized privately-made guns (or receivers, or receiver blanks, or parts sets) to report themselves to Federal authorities, possibly incriminating themselves.
  • The proposed law also violates the 5th Amendment’s “Takings” clause, because it bans “certain firearm receiver castings or blanks, assault weapon parts kits, and machinegun parts kits” without leaving any viable  market. It is a ban without compensation.
  • The proposed law exceeds the mandate of the Commerce Clause (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution) by creating new over-reaching Federal authority on 50-year-old gun receivers and other gun parts that can date back more than 100 years. These parts clearly have long been out of Interstate Commerce and thus have no Federal nexus whatsoever. (That is private intrastate commerce.)
  • The proposed law violates the Ex Post Facto Law Clause by retroactively creating the crime of owning a post-1968 unserailized firearm receiver. This is a gross violation of Article I, Section 10, Clause 1, of the U.S. Constitution. That clause prohibits the enactment of ex post facto laws. Amazon.com Gift Card i... Buy New $25.00 (as of 01:35 EDT - Details)
  • The proposed law is also void for vagueness. According the Cornell Law School web site, this is “a constitutional rule that requires criminal laws to state explicitly and definitely what conduct is punishable.  Criminal laws that violate this requirement are said to be void for vagueness.  Vagueness doctrine rests on the due process clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.  By requiring fair notice of what is punishable and what is not, vagueness doctrine also helps prevent arbitrary enforcement of the laws.”  In this instance the law bans “parts sets” without properly defining how many parts constitutes a “set”. The law is also horribly vague in that it does not define what percentage of completion constitutes a “receiver blank”.  It is 80%? It doesn’t say. Not does it define what percentage constitutes a completed “receiver”. Is that 81%? Or 90%? Or 99%? Or 100%?  Again, it is quite vaguely written.

All in all, this proposed law is grossly unconstitutional on several levels and in several respects.  Under the traditions and standards of American Jurisprudence, we are not bound to obey this law, and it cannot be enforced. (Lex Mala, Lex Nulla.) It is null and void, even before passage.

This bill will get a new number when it is re-introduced. Be forewarned that it may be slipped into a large legislative package, such as an omnibus funding bill. Please contact your Congesscritter and Senator to mention this particular legislation. While you are at it, remind them that “universal background checks” is a gun-grabbers’ code phrase for “banning private party sales.” Also, be sure to mention: I oppose any and all new gun laws and Red Flag laws!  – JWR