U.S. State Department clears way to post 3D-printed gun designs online

07/27/2018 12:37 PM

By: Samantha Jo Roth

In a matter of days, a do-it-yourself gun made at home with a 3D printer will become a reality.

The Trump administration settled with a non-profit that plans to post instructions for making the weapons on August 1.

“If you put the plans up there, then it’s anybody that can go on and has access to a 3D printer and then they’re going to be able to make a lethal weapon that will evade detection,” said Senator Bill Nelson, D-Florida.

Nelson wants an explanation as to why the State Department settled and is allowing the blueprints to be published. And he’s not alone.

“I ask the State Department to please reconsider this decision,” said Senator Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts. “I think it has long-term national security and domestic security considerations for our country.”

In 2013, Defense Distributed posted the original printing manual of the 3D gun online. Five days later, the government ordered them to remove it. But by then it was too late — it had already been downloaded more 100,000 times and reposted elsewhere.

“The drawings are out there already,” said Lawrence Keane, National Shooting Sports Foundation. “People have them that are interested in them.”

Keane says the concern over 3D guns is being blown out of proportion.

“The reality is the printers are extremely expensive,” Keane said. “They cost many thousands of dollars to purchase them, and even if you print one of these items, they don’t work very well, they don’t last very long. Early iterations would only see fire one shot and would fall apart and break.”

Experts emphasize that it’s still illegal for a convicted felon to have a 3D printed gun because it is a firearm, but some lawmakers are calling for hearings and legislation to block the release of the blueprints.

Gun rights advocates stress that all 3D printed guns must comply with the Undetectable Firearms Act, which requires any firearm made contain metal so it would not be able to pass through a metal detector without being seen.

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