Just a short time ago, 3D-printed guns seemed like science fiction, but after what happened in Texas, no one can help talking about it. The young people of Distributed Defense developed the Liberator project, a firearm consisting of 16 plastic pieces that can be replicated anywhere in the world. In New York there’s already talk of a local law – under discussion – to make printing weapons illegal.
The US State Department had already blocked the download of the files necessary for making the Liberator out of fear that plastic weapons violate federal law. Despite the block, the gun has already travelled around the United States (and the world): after a few weeks, the Lulz Liberator, a low-cost version that can be made with an $1800 printer, appeared in Wisconsin.
In New York, according to Epoch Times, two Democratic lawmakers, Lewis Fidler and Linda Rosenthal, introduced two bills to control the spread of 3D-printed weapons. Fidler’s bill would make it illegal to print weapons without a gunsmith license and authorized manufacturers must report the printing – even partially – of a weapon to the New York Police Department (NYPD) within 72 hours.
In essence, 3D-printed weapons are comparable to traditional firearms in all respects: which is to say that they would be subject to all rules on the composition of bullets, the obligation to identify them with a serial number and the prohibition against destroying a weapon. Fidler fears that DIY guns can be made to disappear too easily after a criminal act.
Rosenthal’s bill, on the other hand, makes it a crime to sell and use guns, ammunition and magazines made on a 3D printer. But there’s a problem. In fact, according to current federal law, it is legal to build non-automatic weapons – and the Liberator fires one shot at a time – so long as the manufacturers produce more than 20% of the bullet ejection mechanism (called the castle).
It is a type of precaution put in place to prevent the assembly of illegal weapons built by joining together different untraceable pieces. But, in the face of 3D printers that produce 100% of a gun, this form of control is totally useless. Not surprisingly, anyone can change the design of their home-made weapon and make sure that it can’t be identified by metal detectors. In short, this isn’t the end of the story.Photo credits: joiseyshowaa / CC-BY-SA