Up until now, it has been rare to find a 3D printed gun being used outside of fringe activists. But recently concerns over 3D printed guns has hit both the Reno, Nevada TSA and the California legislation. While this dark side of 3D printing has been a passing concern, it is hitting close to home and raising concern from law enforcement, legislation, and 3D print experts like author and intellectual property attorney, John Hornick, partner at Washington, DC based Finnegan IP law firm. "There are starting to be a lot of reasons law enforcement is taking a closer look at 3D printing," Hornick says.
TSA 3D Printed Gun Find
Surprising or not, the Transportation Safety Administration reported on their blog that they found 68 firearms in carry-on luggage this week - one of them was 3D printed. "While it was a realistic replica, it was loaded with live ammunition."
The photos seen below from their Instagram feed shows a gun design that has not been widely circulated or seen by the 3D print community. This find adds to the mounting concern that home-grown terrorists or criminals will completely circumvent all elements of detection and operate as Hornick refers to it, "away from control."
Legislative Gun Action
In process since February 2015, the California State senate voted 50 to 26 in favor of extending existing gun legislation to include 3D printed firearms. Under the new California law AB-857 signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on July 22nd, anyone making a homemade firearm would be required to obtain a serial number from the state's Department of Justice and engrave or embed that serial number into every 3D printed firearm. Additionally, the law requires the owner to submit to an eligibility background check and forbids the sale and transfer of any 3D printed gun from a California resident to another party. That assumes of course that 3D print gun owners plan to operate overtly, within control.
For those not familiar with 3D printing, the design and 3D print production of a functioning firearm is not an easy feat. Making a functioning gun that won't blow your arm off is not something that your average person can do. It requires CAD skills, engineering knowledge, strong materials and a reliable 3D printer. Right now, unless you already have those skills, there is a big learning curve. That means that schools, maker spaces and other educational resources need to be aware.