Tag Archives: regulation

National Gun Control Debate Threatens 3D Printing With Regulation

Cody Wilson Wiki Weapon 3D Printing

As the country recovers from the recent mass school shooting in Newtown, CT, and at the same time engages in a national debate around gun control, an unlikely topic is coming under fire: 3D printing.

Basically, there are some fringe gun activists who are exploiting the national attention to gun rights to get some publicity for their new ideas. One of these, Defense Distributed has been publishing their plans for a “Wiki Weapon.”

Those who read on3dprinting.com know the potentially massive positive contributions that 3D printing can make for our global society. Unfortunately, however, some legislators are now discussing regulations on 3D printing because they are afraid people will print high-capacity gun clips.

Steve Israel 3D Printing Guns

In the release below, Representative Steve Israel (D-NY) writes about his intentions to regulate 3D printing.

Rep. Israel to Introduce Legislation to Prohibit Homemade 3-D Printed Magazines Along with Plastic Guns

As Debate Stirs Around High-Capacity Gun Clips, Homemade Gun Enthusiasts Show Clip Can be Made At Home with 3-D Printer

Woodbury, NY—Today, Congressman Steve Israel (D-Huntington) called for a renewal of a revamped Undetectable Firearms Act that includes the ban of homemade, 3-D printed, plastic high-capacity magazines. The existing ban on plastic guns expires this year and does not clearly cover magazines. This past weekend, Defense Distributed, a group of homemade gun enthusiasts used a 3-D printer to print and test an ammunition magazine for an AR semi-automatic rifle, loading and reportedly firing 86 rounds from the 30-round clip. A video of them firing the weapon can be seen here.

Rep. Israel said, “Background checks and gun regulations will do little good if criminals can print high-capacity magazines at home. 3-D printing is a new technology that shows great promise, but also requires new guidelines. Law enforcement officials should have the power to stop keep homemade high-capacity magazines from proliferating with a Google search.”

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said, “With every advancement in technology, there will be those who attempt to exploit it for unintended purposes. And in those situations, it is incumbent upon our elected officials and law enforcement agencies to take necessary action to protect the public. This common sense legislation closes a dangerous loophole in the law, and I strongly support Congressman Israel’s efforts in seeing these dangerous magazines banned.”

3-D printers work by printing layer upon layer of a material, usually thermoplastic, on top of each other in order to form a 3-D object. The revamped Undetectable Firearms Act that Rep. Israel wrote makes it illegal to manufacture, own, transport, buy, or sell any firearm or magazine that is homemade and not detectable by metal detector and/or does not present an accurate image when put through an x-ray machine. The reauthorization would extend the life of the bill for another 10 years from the date of enactment.


Steve Israel photo by Third Way used under Creative Commons license.

3D Printing Gun Debate Heats Up Again: Wiki Weapon and ATF

Cody Wilson Wiki Weapon 3D Printing

Can 3D printers be used to create guns? We first discussed a hobbyist who was 3D printing automatic weapon parts in July and again covered the topic of using 3D printing for dangerous goods in August.

Now, the New York Times’ Bits Blog is adding to the controversy with its own feature about “building a gun with the push of a button.”

Cody Wilson, a law student at the University of Texas, is in the process of building a completely functional printed gun. “We hope to have this fully tested and put the files online in the next couple of months,” said Mr. Wilson, who runs a Web site called Defense Distributed.

He calls the gun the Wiki Weapon. In a video explaining the project’s goals, he describes the Wiki Weapon as the world’s first “3-D printable personal defense system.”

Below is a video of Cody Wilson promoting his Wiki Weapon.

Will this really make an impact given that there are so many guns in circulation each year via loopholes or illegal transfer? Perhaps not.

“Forty percent of guns are sold through a loophole at gun shows, where people are already able to buy a firearm without having to go through a background check,” said Daniel Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “There’s already a permanent ‘gun show’ on the Internet.”

One interesting angle not raised before is the role of law enforcement and regulation in this overall debate.

Under most circumstances, it is not illegal to build your own gun, but it has been pretty difficult. Ginger Colbrun, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said people had made firearms out of pens, books and belt buckles. But those contraptions and conventional firearms require a certain amount of knowledge and skill.

Ms. Colbrun said the agency was keeping a close watch on 3-D printers. “A.T.F. always tries to stay ahead of the illegal activity and the novel firearms trafficking schemes, without impinging on individuals’ rights,” she said.

In the case of Wiki Weapon, the 3D printer manufacturer Stratasys stepped in before law enforcement needed to and seized the 3D printer back before Wilson could print his first gun, saying “It is the policy of Stratasys not to knowingly allow its printers to be used for illegal purposes.” (via Guardian)