Monday, January 21, 2013

3D-printed high-capacity gun magazine demoed as lawmakers push for Undetectable Firearms Act renewal

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre, as well as a YouTube video (embedded) showing a man shooting 86 rounds using a 30-round magazine manufactured with a 3D printer, a New York Congressman is pushing to renew the Undetectable Firearms Act with an added stipulation covering 3D printed firearms or 3D printed high-capacity magazines.  He's seeing both positive and negative public responses, but at least one New York county D.A. came forward on Friday, offering support.

It's been known for some time that guns could be printed using 3D printers.  Making it affordable, and doable on cheaper 3D printer is the mission statement of Defense Distributing (DefDist), which  is behind the aforementioned video. Defdist calls itself a DIY gun group and is based in Texas. Earlier this month, it posted a YouTube video showing a a working 30-round printed magazine being used in an assault rifle.

DefDist offers downloadable and printable blueprints for the 30-round magazine, and reportedly, they have been already downloaded more than 2,200 times.

According to Wikipedia:
The Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 already makes it illegal to manufacture, import, sell, ship, deliver, possess, transfer or receive any firearm that is not as detectable by walk-through metal detectors or has major components that do not generate an accurate image when subjected to inspection by airport x-ray machines.
While it already sounds like the Undetectable Firearms Act covers such 3D printed components, guns, it does not cover magazines. In addition, that one word, "renew," used by Israel, is important. Similar to the assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004 after a 10-year-life, the Undetectable Firearms Act will expire on Dec. 9, 2013.

First put into effect in 1988, including an initial House vote of 413 - 4 and a signing by Ronald Reagan, it was allowed to sunset in 1998, then renewed in 2003. With the advent of 3D printers, some -- such as Israel -- see not just similar, but increased need for the Act's renewal. However, many expect getting it through Congress, despite what would seem to be an obvious need, to be difficult.

3D printers work by printing layers of thermoplastic atop each other, creating a 3D object, whether it be an actual gun, ammunition magazine, or anything else that has an appropriate blueprint.

Israel has made it quite clear: he's not after 3D printing manufacturers or the industry.  He said:
We’re not going to solve every problem. No law can do that. What we’re trying to do is deal with a very specific problem, which is the lone wolf who uses a 3D printer to make a plastic weapon in his home that can be brought onto a plane or into a secure environment.
On Friday, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice issued the following statement in support of Israel's proposed legislation, saying:
With every advancement in technology, there will be those who attempt to exploit it for unintended purposes. And in those situations, it is incumbent upon our elected officials and law enforcement agencies to take necessary action to protect the public. This common sense legislation closes a dangerous loophole in the law, and I strongly support Congressman Israel’s efforts in seeing these dangerous magazines banned.

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