3D Printed Guns Get Better, US Legal Debate Still On – 3DPrint.com

30-year-old Timothy John Watson of Ranson, West Virginia, hiding behind an online retailer’s website that claims to sell wall mounts, faces a prison sentence of up to 10 years after being accused by federal prosecutors To have sold 3D printed machine gun parts without A license to supporters of the extremist, anti-government Boogaloo movement in the US The devices, known as “drop-in-auto sears,” convert semi-automatic AR-15 rifles into fully automatic machine guns around. Homemade, incomprehensible 3D printed weapons or weapon parts were often quite controversial. Several states have tried to restrict the sharing of CAD source code to show users how it is made.

The debate has raged since the development of the world’s first single-shot 3D printed plastic weapon called the Liberator. The gun, capable of firing a .380 caliber bullet, was printed in 2013 using fused deposition modeling (FDM) on an industrial-grade Stratasys Dimension SST by American libertarian Cody Wilson. Although a license is not required to manufacture a firearm for personal use only, the law prohibits the manufacture of firearms for sale or distribution without going through appropriate regulatory channels. However, the right to manufacture weapons for individual use dates back to the colonial times. All efforts to regulate or even ban 3D weapons must, according to Josh Blackman, professor at the South Texas College of Law in Houston, “pass the constitutional examination after both the first and the second amendment”.

Still, several recent events urge President Joe Biden to take executive action to reduce gun violence by regulating concealable assault-style firearms, such as the gun that was used in the March 2021 gunfire at a Boulder, Colorado supermarket , which killed 10 people. That incident followed a series of seven mass shootings that had taken place days earlier, including attacks on three Atlanta spas that killed eight people. Although none of these attacks specifically used 3D-printed weapons or weapon parts, the White House is investigating whether the president has the authority to take action against firearms made with 3D printers, as well as imported weapons.

Speaking to press representatives at the Delaware Air National Guard Base on March 26, 2021, Biden said, “We are examining what authority I have over imported weapons, and whether or not I have authority over these new weapons made by 3D Devices are manufactured that are not registered as weapons at all, there may also be some leeway there. “

As someone who has pushed for gun security measures since his tenure in the Senate and as Vice President during the Obama administration, Biden has a few options like filling gaps in background verification, stopping the proliferation of unregulated and untraceable ghost weapons, and expanding community-based violence intervention programs. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the government was “working on a few levers” to ratify new weapons security measures. One of them is Congress, particularly two background bills that have moved around the house that could tighten gun sales rules.

President Joe Biden’s Gun Reform Plan. Image courtesy of BidenForPresident Campaign.

Blueprints for 3D printed firearms are widely available online. Discussion groups in internet forum communities like Reddit and Quora often post information on original websites where users have posted 3D printable gun files. They can usually also be accessed through P2P file sharing. One of the biggest concerns has been that 3D guns have a plastic composition that metal detectors cannot pick up, and like most ghost guns, it will be difficult for officials to find out who they belong to. However, Larry Arnold, Legislative Director of the Texas Handgun Association, said in 2020 that the gun would be discovered when the plastic is tight enough. Even if this is not the case, the balls are made of metal and appear in a detector.

Ten years ago, a fully 3D printable gun had limited usefulness, but still fired a shot before the mere printing of the ammunition would destroy it. Today, the materials available for FDM printers that are commonly used to print pistols have become increasingly durable. By 2019 the technology seemed to be mature, and 3D printers were making pretty good receivers for semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15 and other gun parts.

In early 2020, Deterrence Dispensed, a group of proponents of 3D printed weapons, released the files for a working assault rifle called the FGC-9, short for “F *** Gun Control 9mm”. The estimated tooling cost for the finished weapon is $ 500, and it can take anywhere from one to two weeks to build. Most of the weapon is 3D printed, including the top and bottom receivers, pistol grip, and stock. Only the barrel is made of metal, which means it can be detected by metal detectors. This is the only reason they’re not banned, according to the Slate media site.

What also draws a lot of attention is that the online files have detailed instructions that anyone can use to build their own FGC-9, even without prior experience. A designer from Deterrence Dispensed known only as “Ivan The Troll” told The New Republic via encrypted email that the pro-3D printed weapons organization plans to “keep developing and distributing their files while there is public demand according to them exists “.

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Prototype of the FGC-9 by the designer JStark1809. Image courtesy JStark1809 / Deterrence Dispensed.

In a similar tone, another group of 3D printed gun enthusiasts at Iowa State University organized a meeting to teach fellow students about 3D printed guns and “home gunsmithing”. The presentation, coordinated by the student-run organization “Students for 2A,” which advocates for Second Amendment rights, would not encourage illegal activity, but rather explain how the entry into 3D printing of weapons is exposed. However, students on campus who were still upset after the Colorado shootings said they received an email to discuss guns just 24 hours after the attacks.

Whether or not 3D weapons pose a threat is still a major issue for discussion. Some experts say they aren’t as problematic as the more accessible ghost weapons, which are believed to be much more deadly. According to Greg Blonder Professor of Design and Product Development In the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Boston University, 3D printed weapons are just a “distraction” from the great concern about high-precision, all-metal ghost weapons that can be bought as a kit and assembled in just 15 minutes.

These so-called “Ghost Guns” or “80% lower kits”Assemble yourself from parts bought online or at gun shows. Additionally, the assembled parts are not classified as a firearm by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). Because of this, they can be legally sold without a background check and serial number to identify the finished product. That gap, says Blonder, can result in a perfectly functioning pistol or AK-47 assault rifle, much faster than you can print it. Worst of all, they were used to kill people.

Ghost rifles have proven to be the preferred weapon for violent criminals. For example, in California, ATF statistics found that 30% of all guns now recovered by agents in the state have no serial number and cannot be traced back to a criminal investigation. A report by The Trace even found law enforcement agencies across California regaining record numbers of ghost rifles.

“None of the ghost weapons recovered from the ATF are plastic weapons, mainly because there is no point in using a plastic weapon when you can get a perfectly good ghost weapon,” said Blonder. “For anyone interested in gun regulations, the problem is not plastic. I’m worried that 3D printed guns, since they’re new and fascinating, could detract from ghost weapon legislation. Of course someone could use a 3D weapon to make a point, but it’s not an existential threat today. Instead, we should continue to focus on ghost gun legislation. “

These are examples of CAD files from 3D printed weapons files. Image courtesy of Attorney General Mark R. Herring.

The 3D printed gun debate is far from over. Recent technological developments have made it possible for individuals to 3D print firearms and weapon parts using relatively inexpensive machines, which has drawn legislature attention to the technology. Although so far much of the evidence of the proliferation of 3D printed firearms has been reinforced mainly by people seeking to make a political statement, legislation regulating 3D printed firearms in the US could be introduced sooner rather than later.

In mid-March 2020, Illinois House member Angelica Guerrero-Cuellar has already tabled a bill banning homemade firearms, especially 3D-printed ones, as well as criminalizing the dissemination of computer code with possible drafts used to create them. With many government officials claiming they want to contain, not regulate, the harmful effects of undetectable and potentially undetectable firearms, we could move the 3D printed weapons debate forward this year.

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