- Eight states announced on Monday that they were suing the Trump administration over giving the public access to blueprints for 3-D printed guns.
- The guns do not have serial numbers, people printing them would not have to undergo background checks, and the weapons would virtually be untraceable.
Concern over the rise of 3-D-printed guns has hit a climax as eight states announced on Monday that they were suing the Trump administration for allowing the public to download blueprints for such products.
The move would allow the public access to working guns that can fire real bullets, potentially including AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifles.
Because the guns can be printed at home, they do not have serial numbers, people printing them would not have to undergo background checks, and the weapons would virtually be untraceable.
As of Wednesday, Texas-based Defence Distributed will be able to post blueprints for a variety of guns, including its most common, “The Liberator,” as well as an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle, a Beretta M9 and other firearms.
The weapons are printed in pieces through a 3-D printer, and the user then assembles the gun him or herself.
The only metal on the gun is the firing pin and the bullet itself. Some plastic guns can evade metal detectors, with only the small firing pin and a piece of steel put in to comply with the Undetectable Firearms Act,CBC Newsreported.
Each gun is reusable and fires a different number of rounds, depending on the type of firearm made with the 3-D printer.
3-D-printed guns can be lethal and fire hundreds of rounds, but they aren’t durable
3-D-printed guns aren’t as durable as traditional guns, and many shooting ranges ban them from being used.
Defence Distributed’s “The Liberator” has been known to break after one discharge, but founder Cody Wilson has been working to strengthen the gun design.
“There are a few types of guns that can be made on 3-D printers now, although none of them are reliable or have any type of substantial commercial quality that you might expect in a real gun,” Wilson told Newsy.
He added: “It doesn’t take a ton of knowledge or expertise. It might take a lot of patience.”
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives made a report on The Liberator and other 3-D-printed guns public in 2013, CNN reported.
At the time, ATF Firearms Technology chief Earl Griffith called The Liberator a “lethal weapon.”
Officials said a gun made of the plastic ABS-M30, which is often used in toys, fired a.380-calibre round without failing eight times in a row.
The bullet travelled eight to 11 inches into a piece of gelatin made to simulate human soft tissue. A commercially available .380 pistol fired a similar round that travelled 18 inches into the gelatin.
Another plastic-made gun, however, called the VisiJet, exploded into shards when it was fired, according to the report, analysed by CNN.
And German tests of 3-D-printed guns show weapons made out of plastic PLA materials could bend or deform after firing.
When a “mostly” 3-D-printed semi-automatic gun was created in 2016, its creator, a middle-aged man from West Virginia who went by the pseudonym Derwood, said he had to use some metal to complete it.
The gun’s barrel began to melt after about 18 shots if it wasn’t allowed to cool before firing, according to Wired. In total, he said he fired more than 800 rounds.
Blueprints for 3-D-printed firearms could be available soon – without a background check, proof of age, or licence
A government settlement with Defence Distributed last month allowed the Texas-based company to make plans for 3-D printed guns available online, years after it was ordered to cease operation on such blueprints.
Defence Distributed founder Wilson first published downloadable designs for a 3-D printed firearm in 2013, and they were downloaded approximately 100,000 times, according to the Associated Press, before being shut down.
He sued over the shut-down in 2015, and the State Department settled in June.
As early as Wednesday,Wilson’s company could be allowed to republish blueprints, allowing Americans to again download untraceable plans for 3-D guns.
A lawsuit filed by several states asking the Trump administration to stop the blueprints from being available says that anyone can become a member of Defence Distributed without a background check, according to US News and Report.
Defence Distributed doesn’t to ask for a proof of age or a valid permit or gun licence, making it easy to surpass what a customer might go through when buying a gun at a store.
Access to 3-D printers is still a hurdle
3-D-printed guns are printed in several plastic parts that the user has to assemble on his or her own. Wilson said it takes about 24 hours to create a pistol.
Although DIY kits for making at-home guns have long been available online, blueprints would allow easier access to anyone with a 3-D printer.
Gun experts claim, however, that criminals are still unlikely to use the blueprints because 3-D printers are still fairly expensive and the guns deteriorate more quickly than traditional firearms, TIME reported.
Printers needed to make the guns cost anywhere between $US5,000 and $US600,000.
Although 3-D printing is available in most public libraries, many have banned the machines from being used for unsafe or dangerous reasons, according to WJHG.
Users on Defence Distributed, who only need to pay a fee and include an email, username and password to register, can also share their own designs for guns, magazines and accessories,CNN reported.
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