Senator Markey Intends to Put Hold on State Department Nominee Until President Trump Reverses Dangerous 3D Gun Policy
Yesterday, a federal judge granted a temporary restraining order to stop the online publication of blueprints for 3D printed guns that could be downloaded by anyone around the world, including terrorists
Washington (August 1, 2018) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today announced his intention to place a hold on the nomination of R. Clarke Cooper to be an Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs unless the administration changes its dangerous policy. Mr. Cooper would be in charge of the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, which is at the center of the three-dimensional (3D) printable gun controversy.
In 2013, the trade controls directorate told downloadable-gun promoter Defense Distributed that posting its 3D printable gun blueprints online and making them available worldwide violated federal export controls, which the directorate enforces. Defense Distributed responded by suing the State Department to allow it to post online its blueprints for making deadly, undetectable, and untraceable plastic weapons using 3D printers. As the litigation progressed, the federal district court overseeing the case, as well as a federal appeals court, sided with the State Department, and as recently as April of this year, the Trump administration argued for the dismissal of the lawsuit because it lacked merit. But in a stunning and inexplicable reversal, the Trump administration settled the case, agreeing to exempt the online publication of 3D printable gun blueprints from the export controls.
Below is an excerpt of Senator Markey’s questioning of Mr. Clarke at the hearing:
“Mr. Cooper, I went to sleep last night hoping that President Trump would have a change of heart and order a reversal of this dangerous policy. That didn’t happen. A court stepped in again and common sense has prevailed, at least temporarily. But we cannot rely on the courts to keep saving us from the excesses and mistakes of this administration.
“I appreciate that you are not the person who made this policy, but you are asking us to confirm you to a position where you will be defending the indefensible.
“Until the President agrees to reverse this policy and prohibit the online publication of these dangerous blueprints a decision that is entirely within his authority I intend to place a hold on your nomination.”
Last week, Senator Markey called on the State Department to prevent the publication of online blueprints for 3D printable firearms. Senator Markey questioned Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a Foreign Relations Committee hearing last week, where Secretary Pompeo committed to reconsider the decision.