Could 3D Printing of Firearms Become Legal?

In a article back in June, Mark Fleming wrote about restrictions to 3D firearm printing.  It turns out we are not done with this hurdle.


Here in the US there has been a law on the books since 1988 called the Undetectable Firearms Act which makes the manufacturing of undetectable plastic guns illegal.  Of course when this law was passed they were not considering in-home 3D printing as a possibility, instead the law was passed to prohibit professional manufacturing of plastic of ceramic guns.  The law has been updated twice since then, once in 1988 and once in 2003, and it is time for Congress to look at the law again.

Next week, on December 9th, the law is scheduled to expire.  With the real possibility that professional and amateur gunsmiths will start being able to experiment with 3D printed firearms there has been a big push from both sides.

On one side you have people like Congressmen Steve Israel of New York who not only wants to renew the law, but released a statement back in May that he believes new legislation should be enacted to tighten control on 3D printed firearms.  Rep. Israel said in his statement that “security checkpoints, background checks, and gun regulations will do little good if criminals can print plastic firearms at home and bring those firearms through metal detectors with no one the wiser.”  He went on to say he believed the revamped Undetectable Firearms Act should be extended another 10 years from the day the new law gets passed.  The ATF has also released a statement about the impending expiration of this bill warning of the dangers of 3D printed guns and urging lawmakers to renew the law.

steve israel

Representative Steve Israel talking about 3D gun legislation.

On the other side you have people like Cody Wilson, who founded a pro 3D printed gun organization called Defense Distributed as well as created the much Liberator 3D printed gun (our coverage of which can be found in this article).  Cody told Mashable this week that “The Undetectable Firearms Act was always a kind of a fake law that never really affected anyone’s activity.  Now it’s just used for bad faith roundabout gun prohibition, just because these people are scared that digital manufacturing makes more people have guns.”

The Liberator 3D gun

The Liberator 3D gun

Although this law is the main federal push against 3D firearms, it isn’t the only action being taken in the US.  Philadelphia has recently enacted a city ban on the manufacturing of 3D printed guns.

Congress is set to vote on the renewing of the bill Tuesday afternoon, and the smart money says this law is here to stay.  But People like Cody Wilson still hold out hope.

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