PHOTO: Thinkstock/Stephanie Frey Gun and the Constitution

3-D Printed Guns: Why They Are Legal and Why Crooks Probably Won’t Print Them

INDIANAPOLIS–Building your own gun is legal and people have been doing it for years. A download of information to program a 3-D printer to manufacture a plastic gun was also legal for several years, and those plans were downloaded over 100,000 times.

“This whole thing about, oh my gosh, criminals are gonna be running around with homemade guns, I think, is completely laughable,” said gun rights attorney and host of The Gun Guy, Guy Relford, said.

He said the hype that has caused members of Congress and state attorneys general to lobby for a ban on the plans, which in itself is a 1st Amendment issue, as well as 2nd, is over something that really presents no threat. He said the notion that you can program a printer, then push a button and get a gun, is the most laughable part.

“That is in no way, shape or form how this process would work.”

Relford said a plastic gun would have to be produced by first having the printer make several components, with the right materials.

“For instance, you need the resins that produce the plastics that are actually strong enough and durable enough to withstand the pressures generated when a cartridge is ignited within that gun,” he said. “None of that is pushing a button and a gun magically appears in your 3-D printer.”

He also pointed out that there must be metal parts in the gun that keep it detectable, and the people who have actually produced plastic guns have had these components in their pieces to keep them legal.

“So, this whole business of we’re going to have undetectable, plastic guns that won’t show up at the TSA check at the airport- that’s always been illegal since 1988,” he said about the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988, which was passed after a myth that Glocks were all-plastic pistols, he said.

And, Relford said he believes crooks are not going to want to fool with the massive undertaking and expense involved in producing a reliable plastic firearm.

“Is a criminal or even a terrorist gonna take the time to buy a 3-D printer, get the materials necessary to produce a gun, and then go through the entire process of producing a reliable and accurate gun?”

Relford said he doesn’t see the need for a solution or a resolution, when there is essentially not a problem to begin with. He said that it would be a serious concern if the process were actually easy. But, at this point, with the technology available now, it is not.

PHOTO: Thinkstock/Stephanie Frey


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