Democrats launched an 11th-hour bid Tuesday to stall a Trump administration settlement allowing a company to share blueprints for 3D-printed guns online, issuing dire warnings that the president will have "blood" on his hands if he doesn't intervene.
Curiously, some of the most heated statements came after President Trump tweeted about his reservations over the 3D-gun decision.
"I am looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public. Already spoke to NRA, doesn’t seem to make much sense!" he tweeted Tuesday morning.
But it's unclear whether the president is planning to seek any further changes.
"The president is committed to the safety and security of all Americans and considers this his highest responsibility," White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley told reporters aboard Air Force One late Tuesday. "In the United States, it is currently illegal to own or make a wholly, plastic gun of any kind -- including those made on a 3D printer. The administration supports this nearly two-decade old law.
"We will continue to look at all options available to us to do what is necessary to protect Americans while also supporting the First and Second amendments," Gidley added.
The Trump administration in June had settled a lawsuit from a Texas-based company, allowing the company to resume posting the blueprints after it had been stopped from doing so under the Obama administration in 2013. The company’s website has said downloads will be allowed Wednesday, though blueprints have been posted since Friday.
On Monday, eight states filed suit against the administration, while attorneys general in 21 states urged Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to pull back from the settlement.
Congressional Democrats kept the pressure up Tuesday with a series of fiery statements to the media.
"Donald Trump will be totally responsible for every downloadable, plastic AR-15 that will be roaming the streets of our country if he does not act today,” Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., said at a press conference.
Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal said if Trump fails to act, "blood is going to be on his hands."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., went a step further and said the settlement was “a death warrant for countless innocent men, women and children.”
“The Trump Administration’s sickening NRA giveaway undermines the very foundations of public safety. Metal detectors and other security measures will be completely useless against the flood of undetectable and untraceable ‘ghost guns’ that the GOP is inviting into our schools, workplaces, airports and public buildings,” she said in a statement.
While the blueprints can be printed using a 3D printer, industry experts told The Associated Press that such printers are expensive, the guns can disintegrate quickly, and normal guns are easier to access.
Still, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., introduced legislation to block the online publication of such blueprints.
“These 3D-printed plastic firearms can evade our detection systems and are a direct threat to our national security,” Nelson said at a press conference Tuesday to announce the bill. “And we are going to let these go up on the internet tonight at midnight?”
While the Trump administration agreed to the settlement, Trump indicated Tuesday that he had spoken to the National Rifle Association (NRA) about his concerns.
His tweet drew the ire of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who asked: “What kind of incompetence and dangerous governing is this?”
NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch argued that the backlash has erupted merely because of Trump administration involvement.
“People have been making guns at home for personal use for ages, plastic (not undetectable, still uses metal) or not. People are acting like this is a new thing because MUH TRUMP, apparently,” she said.
Late Tuesday, NRA Executive Director Chris Cox said: “Many anti-gun politicians and members of the media have wrongly claimed that 3-D printing technology will allow for the production and widespread proliferation of undetectable plastic firearms.
"Regardless of what a person may be able to publish on the Internet, undetectable plastic guns have been illegal for 30 years," Cox added. "Federal law passed in 1988, crafted with the NRA's support, makes it unlawful to manufacture, import, sell, ship, deliver, possess, transfer, or receive an undetectable firearm."
The company behind the settlement, Defense Distributed, has defended the move as a First Amendment issue, not a gun rights issue. Founder Cody Wilson told The Washington Post that the controversy is about access to information.
Fox News’ Chad Pergram, Anne Ball, James Rogers, Bree Tracey and The Associated Press contributed to this report.