Federal Judge Blocks Release Of Plans For 3-D Printable Guns

A Federal Judge in Washington State has, at least temporarily, blocked the release of files that would allow anyone to make a 3-D printed gun. The First Amendment seems to clearly indicate that this ruling is wrong.

Late yesterday, a Federal District Court in Washington issued an injunction barring the publication of plans that would allow someone with the right kind of 3-D printer to manufacture guns of various types in the home, but it’s unclear how the order can be enforced or how it could possibly withstand appeal:

WASHINGTON — For years, Cody Wilson, a champion of gun-rights and anarchism from Texas, has waged a battle to post on the internet the blueprints for making plastic guns on 3-D printers, claiming the First Amendment gives him the right to do it.

Plastic guns are difficult to detect, and concerned about making it easier to produce them, the Obama administration had used export laws banning the foreign distribution of firearms to prevent publication of the blueprints. But an abrupt reversal by the State Department last month appeared to finally clear the path for Mr. Wilson to usher in what his website calls “the age of the downloadable gun.”

That age, he said, would start Wednesday when he would begin uploading the instructions. But faced with dire warnings about an imminent risk to public safety from alarmed public officials across the country, a federal judge in Seattle on Tuesday evening abruptly granted a temporary nationwide injunction blocking Mr. Wilson from moving forward with his plans.

Attorneys general in eight states and the District of Columbia had filed a joint lawsuit attempting to force the Trump administration to prevent Mr. Wilson’s nonprofit organization, Defense Distributed, from making the technical plans for the plastic guns available online.

In a decision from the bench issued immediately after an hourlong argument by lawyers for both sides, Judge Robert S. Lasnik of United States District Court said the lawyers bringing the suit had established “a likelihood of irreparable harm” and of success on the merits.

Judge Lasnik said in his ruling that there were “serious First Amendment issues” that would need to be worked out later in court, but that for the moment, there should be “no posting of instructions of how to produce 3-D guns on the internet.” The judge set a follow-up hearing for Aug. 10 in his courtroom in downtown Seattle.

The decision followed a legal skirmish in New Jersey on Tuesday afternoon in which Mr. Wilson agreed to stop uploading new files to his website and to prevent internet users in the state from downloading the plans until a full hearing in September. State officials in Pennsylvania won a similar temporary concession on Sunday.

“Cody Wilson backs down,” said the New Jersey attorney general, Gurbir Grewal, on Twitter. “The fight for public safety continues.”

The court rulings are just the beginning of what could become a fierce legal clash pitting concerns about public safety and Mr. Wilson’s claim of a First Amendment right to publish the materials. His lawyer, Josh Blackman, compared it to the Pentagon Papers case, in which the Supreme Court famously rejected the government’s attempts to block news organizations from publishing a secret history of the Vietnam War.

“This is a huge free speech case,” said Mr. Blackman, who vowed to continue fighting the efforts to prevent Mr. Wilson from posting his documents online.

Critics say the homemade firearms produced by Mr. Wilson’s schematics can be printed without serial numbers or government registration. They say the firearms — known as “ghost guns” — would allow criminals and terrorists to evade detection.

Mr. Wilson challenged the Obama administration’s attempt to block publication of the blueprints in 2015, and the legal case had dragged on until last month, when the State Department concluded they do not violate the defense export controls meant to keep delicate military technology out of the hands of the country’s enemies. A court-approved settlement between the State Department and Mr. Wilson ended the legal case and gave Mr. Wilson the right to distribute the schematics.

But White House officials appeared to be caught by surprise by Monday’s flurry of legal activity. In a tweet on Tuesday morning, President Trump said he was “looking into” his administration’s decision last month to clear the way for Mr. Wilson’s actions.

Mr. Trump’s comments on Twitter underscored the competing views even inside the administration and raised the prospect of another shift in his administration’s approach.

“Already spoke to NRA, doesn’t seem to make much sense!” Mr. Trump wrote.

A spokesman for the president insisted later in the day that Mr. Trump “is committed to the safety and security of all Americans” but declined to say what — if anything — the president was prepared to do regarding Mr. Wilson’s efforts to distribute the blueprints for printed guns.

Hogan Gidley, a deputy White House press secretary, noted that federal law already makes it illegal to own or make a gun out of only plastic. But Mr. Gidley did not address the issue of Mr. Wilson’s desire to distribute the instructions for how to do so.

“The administration supports this nearly two-decade-old law,” Mr. Gidley said. “We will continue to look at all options available to us to do what is necessary to protect Americans while also supporting the First and Second Amendments.”

Mr. Wilson expressed disappointment on Tuesday evening after the ruling by the judge in Washington State.

“The law is clear,” Mr. Wilson said. “These plaintiffs just don’t have standing to challenge the settlement. You can’t unclose a federally closed matter. And I consider the matter to be closed.”

Judge Lasnik’s ruling came in one of a flurry of lawsuits that had been filed over the past week attempting to stop Defense Distributed, the Texas-based nonprofit company at the center of this dispute from making the plans available online where anyone could download them and, provided that they had the correct raw materials and a rather expensive 3-D printer, manufacture in their home a firearm made entirely of plastics that would be undetectable by metal detectors and other security screening methods. One of those lawsuits was filed in state court in New Jersey and it resulted in the entry of a consent agreement under which Defense Distributed agreed that it would hold off publishing plans online until September 30th. Despite this agreement, though, the plans had been leaked online at some point yesterday and thousands of people had downloaded the necessary files, although it’s unclear how many of those people had either the raw materials or the equipment necessary to “print” a gun in their home. Additionally, those files began appearing on mirror sites both inside and outside the United States well before Judge Lesnik issued his ruling late in the day yesterday. Given that, it seems clear that the injunction in Washington and consent decree in New Jersey will really have much of an impact.

As a preliminary matter, it should be noted that it is not illegal for Americans to make firearms in their homes. Indeed, it has long been possible for consumers to purchase kits with untraceable parts and assemble those parts themselves. Alternatively, someone with the right equipment could, at least in theory, manufacture crude handguns and other weapons in their home regardless of whether or not they are legally eligible to purchase a gun under applicable Federal or state law. What is illegal, though, is the manufacture and possessions of the kind of all-plastic guns that these plans make it possible for someone to make. The Undetectable Firearms Act. a Federal law passed in 1988, makes it illegal to own a gun that can pass through a metal detector without being noticed. As a general rule, this was a non-issue prior to the rise of 3-D printers since few people had access to the kind of equipment and information necessary to manufacture such weapons. Thanks to the Internet and the fact that some 3-D printers can be purchased for under $1,000, though, we’re getting closer to the day when anyone would be able to manufacture a functional weapon, albeit one that would fall far short of the accuracy or power of commercially available weapons, in the comfort of their own home. Given that, the concerns raised by the Attorneys General and other state officials who have acted to attempt to stop the publication of these plans, are entirely understandable even though the legal basis for their claims is questionable at best and, at the very least, those efforts appear to be too little, too late.

It’s important to note that the issue before the courts in Washington and New Jersey isn’t about the aforementioned Federal law. Even with the advent of 3-D printer technology, it remains illegal to own a gun that cannot be detected by a metal detector or other similar technology. Similarly, at first glance, I don’t believe there would be a constitutional problem with a law that made it illegal to manufacture, either as part of a commercial enterprise or an individual activity, such weapons. That’s not the issue before the Courts in this case, though, and as Brian Doherty points out, what the courts are doing here amounts to nothing more than a seemingly unconstitutional prior restraint on speech:

Since the case ended via settlement and not a decision, no explicit precedent has been set that these specific computer instructional files count as expression protected under the First Amendment. But that was the core of the legal argument Defense Distributed was making, and is still having to make against all the new authorities trying to restrain it.

As the company’s legal team wrote in the lawsuit, “the use of the ITAR to impose a prior restraint on publications of privately generated unclassified information into the public domain violated the First Amendment of United States Constitution,” a point with which they believed previous Department of Justice doctrine agreed.

In a court filing responding to the multi-state lawsuit to stop Wilson’s organization from distributing the files, one of Defense Distributed’s lawyers, Josh Blackman, said that such attempts to legally prohibit Americans ability to “access, discuss, use, reproduce, or otherwise benefit from the technical data” are not constitutionally permitted, as such acts are “expressly protected by the First Amendment. In Sorrell v. IMS Health Inc. [2011], the [Supreme] Court recognized ‘that the creation and dissemination of information are speech within the meaning of the First Amendment.'”

As Blackman rightly stated, this latest state lawsuit to limit Defense Distributed’s activities constitutes a

demand [of] a prior restraint of constitutionally protected speech that is already in the public domain. We know that “[a]ny system of prior restraints of expression comes to this Court bearing a heavy presumption against its constitutional validity.” That presumption of liberty is even heavier where, as here, the speech is already available on the internet, and has been available for years….Yet, nine Attorneys General, who swore an oath to the Constitution, failed to even mention the First Amendment in their emergency pleadings. Such a careless disregard for the Bill of Rights fails to meet the “heavy burden” needed to justify a prior restraint.

By eliding what’s really at stake here—more a matter of free expression than any meaningful expansion of the already existing legal ability to make a gun at home—the states suing, and alas too much of the media, are ginning up unwarranted fear to expand the government’s power to restrict speech, and alas those states have had at least a temporary success for now.

The fact that the CAD files at issue here can potentially be used to manufacture a weapon is, in of itself, irrelevant for First Amendment cases. In the end, there is no functional difference between these CAD files and publications such as The Anarchist Cookbooka publication that has been around since the 1970s in various forms and which even today can be purchased on Amazon in both its original and updated form. While that publication has proven to be controversial in no small part due to the fact that it includes instructions that would make it possible for someone with the right materials to make explosives and other illegal items, there doesn’t seem to be any argument against the proposition that the publication of the book itself is perfectly legal and protected by the First Amendment. The analysis is the same for the CAD files at issue here. In the end, they are simply a form of information, and the First Amendment does not permit either a legislature or a court to ban them simply because of how they might be used.

Here is Judge Lesnik’s opinion:

Washington Et Al v. Dept of State Et Al by Doug Mataconis on Scribd

And the Complaint filed in New Jersey:

Grewel Et Al v Defense Distributed et al Complaint by Doug Mataconis on Scribd

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FILED UNDER: First Amendment, Guns and Gun Control, Law and the Courts, Second Amendment, U.S. Constitution, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    The judge is, unquestionably, wrong here. End of story.

    (Let’s discuss Dennison killing the little girl in S. Texas.)

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  2. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:
    This is inevitable. All we can do is pass strict laws with stiff penalties for manufacturing or possessing guns that don’t conform to regulations. Unfortunately even that won’t happen because of the NRA (a Russian-owned lobbying group) and it’s hold on Congress.

  3. @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    As I note above, it is already against Federal law and, I would imagine the laws of many states, to possess a gun that is incapable of being detected by a metal detector.

  4. Kathy says:

    I see a lot of questions here:

    Is the person making the gun printing files available liable for damages due to defects in the plans? How about for making available guns to people legally barred from owning them? Does he need to conduct a background check of people who want the files? Should they be protected against being freely shared by others?

    The gun may be all plastic, but the bullets and cartridge casings will be metal. I don’t know if their composition means they can be picked up by a magnetometer, such as those used in metal detectors. They would show up on X-rays.

    Do the plans and the right printer and material produce a finished, working gun? Or do they produce parts that need additional refinement and need to be assembled?

    Plastic is not a good material for guns, otherwise major manufactures would be using it, especially for military weapons. The infamous Glock line of “plastic” guns use plastics on the frame and handle, but not on the barrel or firing mechanism. You’d expect all-plastic guns to wear down fairly quickly, and thus be highly unreliable (of course, I might be wrong). They’d still be good for single use, but so would stolen guns which are not that hard to obtain.

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  5. James Pearce says:

    The Anarchists Cookbook?! Hahaha. When I was a kid, the library had a non-circulating copy and was so disappointed paging through it as a troublemaking teenager. That book has been scaring parents and misinforming kids for over 40 years.

  6. MarkedMan says:

    Isn’t the case about publishing plans for making an atomic bomb relevant here (United States of America v. Progressive, Inc.)? Both in the prior restraint sense and in the eventual finding that it was moot because the information was already out there.

  7. Hal_10000 says:

    @Kathy:

    Yeah, this crosses me as a bit of a panic over a very unclear threat. When it comes to bad guys getting weapons, I’m much more concerned about straw purchases and illegal sales than 3-D printers.

  8. Kathy says:

    @Hal_10000:

    I’d be more concerned if guns were few and hard to get. As it is, America is awash in guns and they’re easy to get. They can be gotten cheap, too.

    As of right now, this seems more like a fad.

    But, let’s not forget, this is a first-generation plastic gun. You expect the design to evolve with use and experience, into perhaps something truly dangerous. Or to hit the limits of the concept and the materials, much like the Gyrojet did.

  9. gVOR08 says:

    If Jared or Jr. or one of the boys are charged with disclosing classified information they should try that free speech defense. With Kavanaugh on the Court it might work.

    At this point in time, real criminals aren’t going to print their own guns. They can steal or buy way better guns. What you’re going to get is all the “Michigan Militia” types printing pretty much useless guns to “own the libs”.

    However, they’ll get better and we’re going to have to face up to a principle I haven’t seem discussed. Modern manufacturing is heavily digital. If you have the appropriate commonly available machinery and software, the data is the thing. We could have, to coin a phrase, an internet of things.

    If I can download the CAD files, and find the right small shop, I can have a hundred each AR-15 upper and lower receivers in a few weeks. (There are a bunch of small shops making them now.) So, should it be legal for me to provide downloadable CAD files for a Browning M2 machine gun? Hand grenades? Should I stumble across the files, classified nuclear warhead triggers? When gene splicing and editing become more common, the genetic code for anthrax?

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  10. MarkedMan says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Yeah, this crosses me as a bit of a panic over a very unclear threat.

    FWIW, I think this shows that our current method of firearms regulation is becoming obsolete. As a nation we primarily focus on regulating the sale of guns. But what happens when you can get a gun without a sale? And what else falls into this category? In a world where you can easily manufacture a gun in the house (and no, we are not there yet) if we want to maintain gun regulation we will have to have gun registration, making it a crime to own a weapon or ammunition without a permit. Armageddon from the gun nuts point of view.

    Early stage abortion is another area where technology has rendered regulation ineffective. My understanding is that in 2018 in the US the primary method of early stage abortion is via a two drug combination and can be done at home. So while the Trump states have had a great deal of success in driving abortion providers out of business, this primarily affects the poor and uneducated or those woman who have fetuses with severe birth defects which aren’t diagnosed until later, as anyone who knows how to google quickly discovers they can mail order the drugs necessary. Therefore, when Kavanaugh is appointed and RvW overturned, the Trump states will have to criminalize abortion itself and throw the women behind bars. No doubt they will also set up a confidential hotline so people can secretly turn in friends or acquaintances who let it slip they are considering that option, so the women can be taken into custody and forced to go through with the pregnancy.

    (Sorry, I let my future predictions go a little sideways there….)

  11. gVOR08 says:

    @Kathy:

    Plastic is not a good material for guns, otherwise major manufactures would be using it, especially for military weapons.

    They do use a lot of plastic; light, corrosion free, complex parts. But the plastic available for the inexpensive table top printers is not even good plastic.

  12. grumpy realist says:

    Guess we’re going to have to go through the whole mess before realizing that anarchy isn’t a good way of life.

    Notice how professed anarchists always live in well-organized countries with legal systems and working economies, rather than places which are, in fact, anarchies? When Mr. “freedom to 3D print my own gun” heads off for Somalia with his 3D printer I’ll be far more willing to believe that he will in fact put his money where his mouth is. Otherwise, he’s nothing more than a bratty teenager waving a copy of Ayn Rand around while living off his parents.

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  13. MarkedMan says:

    @gVOR08: I think you’ve hit on the most interesting part of this discussion. What will it mean when we can make/copy things at home? Our patent and IP laws are based around the idea that you can’t manufacture and sell a protected item, but you are free to make one for your own use. What happens when you can make protected items simply and relatively cheaply?

    I know that in the past laws have changed to adapt to new technologies. In the early twentieth century you could have checked a book out of the library, copied it by hand with pen and paper and kept that copy for personal use. But when copiers became widely available laws where enacted to make copying illegal even if for personal use. (I don’t know if hand copying is still legal.) When the tape cassette became commonplace for copying music, several laws were passed. It became illegal to copy protected recordings even for personal use; a tax was placed on the sale of blank cassettes and the proceeds went to the record companies; and (I’m not positive if this one was passed or just proposed) any cassette deck with a record function would have a redistribution tax.

  14. MarkedMan says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Notice how professed anarchists always live in well-organized countries with legal systems and working economies, rather than places which are, in fact, anarchies?

    Yes, Libertarian credo: We will smash government down to a mere shell of itself, but it will somehow be able to act to protect the little guy and not become a mere arm of big and powerful corporations.

    The most laughable thing I’ve heard recently is the latest Libertarian response to why there have never been any successful libertarian societies: because Libertarians are all entrepreneurial self starters and running a government would be too boring for them.

  15. James Pearce says:

    @MarkedMan:

    But what happens when you can get a gun without a sale? And what else falls into this category?

    Tomatoes and marijuana.

  16. JKB says:

    @Hal_10000: When it comes to bad guys getting weapons, I’m much more concerned about straw purchases and illegal sales than 3-D printers.

    Well, then you should have been raising the alarm when the State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, the agency that brought the ITAR export case against to suppress these CAD files, turned a blind eye to the other parts of the Obama administration (BATF) that facilitated straw purchases of lawful firearms at licensed US gun sellers by circumventing the background checks, then let the firearms be exported to Mexico in violation of Mexican law, a diplomatic violation that the State Department should have been concerned about.

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  17. Gustopher says:

    I expect that society will end when we make it easy for any idiot to create and own weapons of mass destruction. This is just one step along the way. Not a particularly dangerous step, but a pretty clear signpost.

    As we make it easier and easier to kill more and more people, then simply because of large numbers we’re going to be putting the means into some lunatic’s hands.

    (Either that or or we will all die when a PhD candidate accidentally unleashes a new virus in the world, after replacing a CATG pair with some novel new synthetic bit of DNA, and no ones immune system is ready for that)

  18. Mister Bluster says:

    @James Pearce:..Tomatoes and marijuana.

    Free weed and tomahtoes at Pearce’s house! B there or B square!

  19. JKB says:

    @gVOR08: If Jared or Jr. or one of the boys are charged with disclosing classified information they should try that free speech defense.

    The news media use free speech as a defense for publishing classified information. Such is not available to someone with a security clearance (well, maybe Hillary if she is no longer given a wholesale pass). To get the clearance, you accept, by contract, that you will be prosecuted for disclosing it, intentionally or unintentionally.

  20. Neil Hudelson says:

    Is JKB seriously trying to convince us that no one discussed Fast and Furious?

    Next he’ll be saying “Benghazi shoulda been investigated.”

  21. Kathy says:

    @gVOR08:

    Mostly external parts. The firing mechanism and barrel are steel. not even another, lighter metal like aluminum or titanium.

  22. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    If it were easy or even possible to produce guns with plastic someone would have done it in the height of the Cold War. If not the Soviets than a gun manufacturer somewhere.

    Unless someone creates a 3D Printer for metal I have my serious doubts about the viability of this… thing.

  23. grumpy realist says:

    @MarkedMan: Where did you get THAT piece of legal thought?

    The reason companies don’t (usually) go after individual manufacturing-for-one’s-own-use is because it wouldn’t be worth the bother but you can bet your baby blue eyes there ain’t no “create-a-patented-protected-object-for-my-own-use” get-out-of-jail freebie card.

    (Yes, I happen to be a patent agent.)

  24. grumpy realist says:

    @grumpy realist:
    P.S. We’ve already seen a version of this where counterfeit objects happen to have gone from things-that-get-brought-in-by-the-truckload to things-that-people-order-one-by-one-on-line-from-China.

    So the method of attack has changed: rather than using customs agents as the policing authority, we now go after the web pages of the counterfeiters and make it difficult for them to sell on line. Oh, and go after their money accounts as well.

  25. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    Is JKB seriously trying to convince us that no one discussed Fast and Furious?

    And he is trying to convince us that Obama came up with that program and not Bush 43.

  26. Kathy says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    3D printing in metal is quite real already.

    None of those look cheap or easy to use, but expect to see home models eventually. The next worry is what kind of raw materials will be available and at what price.

  27. MarkedMan says:

    @grumpy realist:

    but you can bet your baby blue eyes there ain’t no “create-a-patented-protected-object-for-my-own-use” get-out-of-jail freebie card

    I’ll be darned. Given that you are a patent agent, I accepted this statement, but was wondering about the incredibly common belief amongst the university researchers I’ve worked with that you can infringe on a patent for research and experimentation. This is where I got my idea. It turns out there is a common-law exception for research and experimentation (but not personal use) but that the courts have been eroding this over the past twenty years, narrowing what is considered non-commercial use. Does that match your knowledge?

    The experimental use exception allows for de minimis use of a patented invention when the purpose is experimental. However, within the last twenty years, the Federal Circuit has addressed numerous experimental use issues and its decisions have made the common-law experimental use exception inoperable in most practical situations.

  28. MarkedMan says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    Unless someone creates a 3D Printer for metal I have my serious doubts about the viability of this… thing.

    They exist and have for a number of years. Here’s one company. They are not nearly as cheap as home quality plastic 3d printers, but 15 years ago you had to shell out $20-30K for a plastic printer. I have no idea if you can make a gun barrel from them, but who knows? If not now, maybe in a decade or so.

  29. Slugger says:

    Concern about weapons is predicated as much by “who” as by “what”. Where I grew up, switch blade knives were illegal largely based on the perception that they were favored by black teenagers. At the same time there were concerns about zip guns, but the components were too commonplace to be prohibited. “Saturday night specials” were also the subject of many editorials. Currently, there are a lot of reasonably well made guns from well reputed manufacturers in the US. I am pretty sure that less than a weeks’ pay for the average person will get a pretty untraceable standard factory made weapon. Making your own out of plastic doesn’t make sense. Of course, making sense is not the only human motivation.
    Currently, the reins of government are held by people who feel supported by the gun owning segment of the population. I wouldn’t anticipate any new restrictions.

  30. Not the IT Dept. says:

    I’m thinking they’re going to have to make those things a lot more manly-looking before the gun nuts buy them. It looks like a malfunctioning tape gun someone stole from the mail room.

  31. grumpy realist says:

    @MarkedMan: I think people might be confusing the “experimentation and research” loophole (which doesn’t really exist) with “who gets to practice patents which were paid for by public money.” Since a lot of the people who want to fiddle around with patents are a) people working at universities and b) want to work with patents done by their co-workers, where c) said patent work came off DOE or DOD research grants, you can see how the confusion took place. (It’s also quite likely to have been changed under the America Invents Act, but I’ll have to double-check that.)

    But no, there’s no real “common law” right to fiddle with a patent for experimental purposes. If there were, there’d be no reason for the Hatch-Waxman Act to have been written, because that was one of its main drivers. (The inability of pharmaceuticals to test patented medicines while trying to derive a generic equivalent was why pharmaceutical patents were getting “elongated” beyond their lifetimes, much to the disgust of quite a few Congresscritters. Hence the Act. )

  32. grumpy realist says:

    @grumpy realist:

    ….or you could say, that what is considered “non-commercial use” has gotten to the size of a gnat’s arse. Scientists may tinker for their own amusement, but the problem is that if they came up with something new, it would be a great difficulty for them to get that new invention patented without the original patent holder raising a stink and claiming infringement.

  33. Matt says:

    @MarkedMan:

    FWIW, I think this shows that our current method of firearms regulation is becoming obsolete. As a nation we primarily focus on regulating the sale of guns. But what happens when you can get a gun without a sale? And what else falls into this category? In a world where you can easily manufacture a gun in the house (and no, we are not there yet) if we want to maintain gun regulation we will have to have gun registration, making it a crime to own a weapon or ammunition without a permit. Armageddon from the gun nuts point of view.

    Hey nice to know you finally caught up to what I’ve been talking about for years here.

    Those plans are already out there and no amount of court rulings will stop that. You’ll never remove them from the deep web. They’ll find it hard enough to remove the copies floating around on the regular web.

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa: Wow you haven’t been paying attention SLM/DMLS printing has been a thing for many years now. The costs of metal printers are now getting low enough that hobbyists can afford them now. Some gun parts manufacturers have been using SLM/DMLS to create parts for a while now. Heck here’s a 1911 clone that was fully printed by one of those companies.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCfhLEbPBiY

    The ejection failure is called a stove pipe and it happened because the shooter was limp wristing the gun. It can happen with all guns of similar design.

    That same company has 3d printed skateboards and other high stress objects.

    @Not the IT Dept.: There are already companies using SLM and DMLS to print parts for guns and in the video above you can see a 1911 clone that was completely printed.

  34. Matt says:

    @MarkedMan: This has been my “hobby horse” for years now whenever a gun control post appears on this blog. So I find it funny that people are suddenly realizing that 3d printed metal guns are not only a possibility but becoming cheaper to make every year.

    There is at least one fully printed metal 1911 out there that has over 500 rounds through it. The printed barrel is handling it fine as it’s metal and was properly heat treated after printing. Solid concepts lead the way with that but they have basically stopped talking about the 1911 as they are a company that prints parts for guns and I guess they don’t want the extra scrutiny.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwbNOo2aBGA

    DEAR MODERATOR. Once you rescue my other post from moderation hell you can delete this one.

  35. Tyrell says:

    When they first talked about these things a while back I assumed that these were just playguns or squirt guns. How in the world can a plastic gun fire real bullets without shattering or melting down?

  36. Grewgills says:

    People seem to be focusing on plastic guns being freely available to people who aren’t supposed to have guns. The much more serious threat seems to be where plastic guns can go that other guns can’t, courthouses, airplanes, etc. Any terrorist or terrorist wannabe can with proper plans and a not so expensive printer now make plastic guns. A bullet or two can pass most metal detectors. I’ve accidentally left a couple of keys in my pocket and passed into a courthouse and through airport security.
    If someone doesn’t care about escaping courtroom and statehouse assassinations will become much easier with this technology.

  37. Grewgills says:

    @Tyrell:
    They aren’t for repeat use. The are to fire once, or if you aren’t too risk averse a couple of times.

  38. Matt says:

    @Grewgills: Plastic guns still have metal parts in them to function. A properly functioning detector will pick it up still.

    If you’ve made it through a detector with keys in your pocket then you should of immediately alerted the people who were running the detector. It’s clearly not calibrated properly or something is broken in it. I have no idea when you last went through airport security but full body scans will pickup a single key (I saw it happen with the person in front of me).

    Composite guns (aka plastic style) are not a new thing. They have been around for +40 years now.

    https://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2011/10/05/what-happened-the-the-mythical-undetectable-plastic-gun/

    Do remember the jets on 9/11 were taken over by people wielding box cutters. A large composite machete or dagger would be more effective. The “liberator” gun design has been out for over 5 years and no one has done anything of the sort you mentioned.

    @Grewgills: The printed 1911 I linked has over 500 rounds through it. The soviet assassin plastic gun had a three round capability. In assassination scenarios you’d be better off using a composite dagger if the gun option only had 1 round. One good stab and twist/wiggle (like you’re stirring the insides) will outperform a single bullet.

  39. Paul L. says:

    So now I have a case to quote that proves that the Democrats want to overturn the !st Amendment St. of Washington V. US Dept of State.

    Chris Cuomo and Howard Dean can now cite it proving Hate Speech is illegal.

    The State AGs in this case are all Democrats,

  40. Grewgills says:

    @Matt:
    My understanding of the above was that this new printed gun was different in that it did not have metal parts, thus running afoul of the ‘undectable firearm’ statute. Was the article wrong in this?
    Your reference is from 2011. My understanding is that the technology has changed and now allows for at least a single shot printed plastic gun. Hopefully I am wrong or misunderstanding.

    Re the detectors: they were standard metal detectors, not the full body scanners. Lately I generally travel with my young daughter so get waved to the metal detector rather than the body scanner. I have on more than one occasion entered the Hawai’i state courthouse, Federal building, and more than one airport with a missed couple of keys or change in a pocket.
    I do try to be conscientious about it as I used to have a big beard that earned me the ‘random’ screening at every single airport I travelled through.

    The 1911 you mentioned is metal, though printed, so I would have assumed would have done fine as long as it was appropriately treated post printing.

  41. Matt says:

    @Grewgills:

    My understanding of the above was that this new printed gun was different in that it did not have metal parts, thus running afoul of the ‘undectable firearm’ statute. Was the article wrong in this?
    Your reference is from 2011. My understanding is that the technology has changed and now allows for at least a single shot printed plastic gun. Hopefully I am wrong or misunderstanding.

    Well they had various ceramic barrels and stuff to try to get past the need for metal. The soviet assassin pistol was completely plastic with three disposable “barrels”. All these guns are limited by the need to use at least one bullet which should be picked up by the metal detector. Although it seems that you’ve had some experiences with detectors that might have too high of a threshold setting. A bullet is generally easy to detect due to the conductivity of the copper that surrounds the lead core of the bullet. The makeup of the bullet casing can vary from steel to various forms of brass. Keys generally are not nearly as conductive as brass cased bullets. I cannot comment on the coins as I have no idea which kinds or numbers you had. Like I said at the start metal detectors have threshold settings that can be adjusted. They probably do tend to get adjusted down in sensitivity as the people running the machines get tired of having to rerun people constantly for ever smaller amounts of metal. Not to mention the backup in “traffic’ that occurs when a machine is set to a lower threshold.

    The 1911 you mentioned is metal, though printed, so I would have assumed would have done fine as long as it was appropriately treated post printing.

    Well I linked two videos of it firing from different time periods. There used to be a video on youtube of the people who printed the gun firing it constantly for about 200 rounds but that video has disappeared with most of the other videos they posted. Like I said it seems that Solid Concepts has been deleting youtube videos and taking other steps to distance themselves from the 1911 project. Probably worried about negative press and a collective media freakout.

    Here’s the wiki for the gun
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solid_Concepts_1911_DMLS

    There are massive problems with using an all plastic gun. Bullets just poke holes in stuff at a distance. The distance being the major advantage that guns have over knives/swords. Plastic barrels don’t allow for much pressure or accuracy. So range is severely limited because of poor accuracy and the round having very low velocity compared to normal. You’d be lucky to hit a person sized target at 10 yards. Basically in order to hit someone reliably you’d have to be within stabbing range. AT that point you might as well stab the target as you’ll do more damage by far.

    The soviets decided it was better to just go with close in injected poison style weapons as they are much quieter and vastly more accurate.