WASHINGTON • United States President Donald Trump said yesterday that he was "looking into" whether Americans should be able to print their own guns, dipping his toe into the latest contentious debate over the right to bear arms.
"I am looking into 3D plastic guns being sold to the public," he tweeted. Appearing to favour curbs, he added: "Already spoke to NRA, doesn't seem to make much sense!"
Mr Trump was referring to the National Rifle Association, the powerful gun lobby that has become an integral part of the Republican political machine.
The technology presents Mr Trump with tough questions about protecting the public, the limits of gun ownership rights and his own political fortunes.
During his 18-month presidency, which has seen a fresh wave of mass shootings at schools and public places, Mr Trump has occasionally seemed to favour tougher gun regulations, before buckling under pressure from his base and donors.
Eight US states - Washington, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Oregon, Maryland and the District of Columbia - filed a lawsuit on Monday in a last-ditch effort to block a Trump administration decision enabling 3D printers to make plastic handguns that opponents say will be almost impossible to control.
After a lengthy legal battle, Mr Trump's government last month reached a landmark agreement with Mr Cody Wilson, a militant gun rights advocate from Texas.
He successfully argued that the US Constitution's Second Amendment, which guarantees the right to private gun ownership, should extend to a person's right to make guns at home - uncontrolled by the authorities since they will bear no serial number.
The blueprints for 3D printable guns are set to go online today following the settlement between the US government and Mr Wilson's Texas-based firm Defence Distributed that allows the company to legally publish the designs.
In a statement on Monday, the US State Department said that the decision to settle the case was made in the interests of the security and foreign policy of the US and in consultation with the Justice Department.
The State Department had previously banned the blueprints as a national security risk and a violation of arms trafficking regulations.
Gun rights groups have been largely dismissive of concerns over 3D printable guns, pointing out that the technology is expensive and the guns unreliable.
They also say such guns are still subject to federal laws, such as a requirement that all guns contain metal parts, and state laws that require serial numbers.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS