Moments ago, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) took to the Senate floor to ask the Senate for “unanimous consent” to immediately take up and pass his legislation to block the online publication of blueprints used to make fully functioning 3D-printed guns.
Under Senate rules, a senator’s request for “unanimous consent” – or passage without a vote – is approved unless any one senator objects.
Immediately after Nelson made his request, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) objected.
Here’s a rush transcript of the exchange:
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson
Remarks on the Senate floor
July 31, 2018
Sen. Nelson: Mr. President, to accommodate the senator from Utah, I will not make my remarks first just by way of introduction to say that tonight at midnight, American national security is going to be irreversibly weakened because of the actions of the administration because at midnight the administration will allow the online publication of blueprints to manufacture 3-d manufacturing of plastic guns and this is one example. So to accommodate the senator from Utah, instead of making my remarks now, I ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of S. 3304 submitted earlier today, that the bill be considered read a third time and passed, and the motion to reconsider be made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate.
The presiding officer: Is there objection?
Sen. Lee: Mr. President?
The presiding officer: The senator from Utah.
Sen. Lee: Mr. President, reserving the right to object. I first saw this legislation literally moments ago. And therefore having had adequate time to review it. But I will say this: any legislation that comes forth from this body that begins with the following words will attract my attention and should attract the attention of anyone who’s concerned about our first amendment and other constitutional rights. It begins with the words it shall be unlawful for my person to intentionally publish. That ought to be concerning to us, to each and every one of us, Democrats and Republicans alike.
The presiding officer: The objection is heard.
Sen. Nelson: Mr. President?
The presiding officer: The senator from Florida.
Sen. Nelson: Mr. President, the senator is basing that on first amendment rights. Mr. President, there are many limits on our first amendment rights of speech. You cannot say fire in a crowded theater. Why in the world would you assert first amendment rights to publish instructions to do a plastic gun that someone could take through a metal detector into a crowded theater and start shooting in that theater instead of shouting fire, which is clearly an understood limitation upon our First Amendment rights of speech.
And it’s inexplicable that the administration is allowing this to go into effect at midnight tonight. It’s dangerous. In fact, the president this morning tweeted that allowing these blueprints to go online, the president tweeted, quote, it doesn’t seem to make sense, end of quote. I would say amen to that, Mr. President. But it’s your administration that has allowed this to happen because after years of winning this issue in courts at every stage of litigation, the administration has surrendered to the crazed demands of a self-described anarchist who is going to put this up on the internet.
He wants to sow chaos. He said so in our country and across the world by making these blueprints widely available. And we can allow this. We can make this impossible if, number one, the president would do it and he’d stop it before midnight and the clock is ticking, and we’re only talking less than nine hours from now because these 3D-printed guns made of plastic or resin can’t be detected by metal detectors.
And because they’re plastic, there’s not a serial number on the metal so they’re untraceable. And anyone can get their hands on them, even people who are legally barred from having a gun like felons or domestic abusers. So after midnight, people could walk on to airplanes with a deadly weapon because they’re not caught in the metal detector and people would not know about it. People could walk into schools. My state is the most recent of a school shooting. As a result of parkland, people are outraged. They want to harden schools.
But now are we going to render the metal detectors useless as they try to harden the schools because somebody can get through a metal detector with this or with an AK-47 or AR-15 that can be manufactured by these 3D printers?
Mr. President, somebody could come into this building, somebody could be up in that gallery right now if they have a plastic gun, including the bullets that are plastic bullets. And we wouldn’t know about it.
And so whether you’re talking about schools or this chamber or we’re talking about airports, any public space that we try to protect is going to be useless because these 3D printed firearms are a direct threat to our national security, and we’re going to let these go up on the internet tonight at midnight? I think that some of our allies like the Israelis should be concerned about this because this is not limited to the United States.
These could be printed anywhere in the world and, therefore, it can give national security apparatuses a great, great headache because they can’t detect them.
And so as I stated in the unanimous consent, I and other senators have introduced the legislation today to block the online publication of blueprints. Now as it turns out, since we can’t do it here and if the president can’t do it in eight hours and 45 minutes, it’s going up online. It’s going to take us a long time — I mean, what senator or representative can object to this? And so even if we can get the legislation passed, it’s going to take a while because the legislative process is slow. We’ve also introduced a separate bill to require every gun to have a serial number and to have a main component made of metal so that it would be detected by the metal detector. And obviously this is all common this is not a partisan issue. Everybody should be concerned about this threat posed by these deadly plastic guns.
And, Mr. President, I had intended to give these remarks before asking for unanimous consent, as an accommodation to the senator from Utah, who had to run to an appointment, I went ahead and asked that unanimous consent. But I want my fellow senators who have been so great and so articulate on this issue, I want them to be heard. And I’d ask for them to also speak why the senator from Utah’s objection was about first amendment rights — why those objections don’t apply here.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.