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You Can't Print a Gun If You Have No 3D Printer 632

Posted by timothy
from the big-conspiracy-or-small-minds dept.
FatLittleMonkey writes "You may recall Cody Wilson's project to create a 3D printed gun, mentioned previously on Slashdot. Well, the Defense Distributed project has suffered a decidedly non-technical setback, with printer manufacturer Stratasys revoking the lease and repossessing the printer (presumably prying it from plastic models of Cory's cold dead hands). According to New Scientist, the manufacturer cited his lack of a federal firearms manufacturer's license as their reason for the repossession, adding that it does not knowingly allow its printers to be used for illegal purposes." Homemade firearms are not (in the U.S.) per se illegal on a federal basis, though states have varying degrees of regulation. It would be helpful if anyone more conversant with firearms law than me can point out what law or laws this project might be breaking.
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You Can't Print a Gun If You Have No 3D Printer

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @09:25AM (#41525387)

    if you're going to print gray-area items, print them quietly, and announce after your beta is complete.

  • Politics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by onyxruby (118189) <onyxruby&comcast,net> on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @09:25AM (#41525395)

    What's next, refusing to sell printers to people because their for / against gay marriage? This is a tool and he was using it for legal purposes. What the manufacturer did was no different than any other kind of censorship. Deplorable.

  • Printing Presses (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @09:27AM (#41525409)

    Hmmm.... reminiscent of the desire to suppress printing presses in order to inhibit revolutionary movements.

  • Re:Politics (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Shompol (1690084) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @09:28AM (#41525429)
    No, this is not "censorship". This is Toyota reclaiming your car because you drove to a bar and they [Toyota] don't have a liquor license.
  • Machine tools (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @09:31AM (#41525473)

    How is a 3D printer any different than a lathe, grinder or a milling machine?

  • Re:Politics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vlm (69642) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @09:35AM (#41525523)

    No, this is not "censorship". This is Toyota reclaiming your car because you drove to a bar and they [Toyota] don't have a liquor license.

    Not even close. More like Toyota voiding the lease and demanding the car back because the lease says "no entering car races" and you publicly state you're entering a car race with your leased Toyota.

  • Printing Money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ZombieBraintrust (1685608) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @09:37AM (#41525559)
    If you are leasing a color copier or press. They will pull the copier if your using it to print counterfet money. This is not censorship at all.
  • by vmxeo (173325) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @09:39AM (#41525607) Homepage Journal

    When all 3d printers are outlawed, only outlaws won't care because they will still have ready access to guns through illicit channels

    ...or something to that effect

  • by fustakrakich (1673220) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @09:43AM (#41525645) Journal

    Very true... But the most important part of this story, missing from the summary, is that this printer was leased, not sold.

  • Re:Printing Money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @09:44AM (#41525651) Homepage Journal

    If you are leasing a color copier or press. They will pull the copier if your using it to print counterfet money. This is not censorship at all.

    Slight problem with your analogy: Counterfeiting money is illegal, whereas manufacturing firearms for personal use (i.e. not for sale) is not.

  • by newcastlejon (1483695) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @09:44AM (#41525661)
    If you're going to print something illicit, do it quietly and own the printer you're using.
  • Re:Politics (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jellomizer (103300) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @09:45AM (#41525665)

    I have seen a relatively stupid argument with people who support extreme gun control. If we stopped selling guns, then we won't have guns, it is not like they can make their own guns.

    I pointed out how a lot of crimes are committed from hand made guns, and they can make a deadly gun with normal parts in their workshed. And by Banning legal guns, people who want to perform other crimes will still have guns.

  • Re:Politics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @09:46AM (#41525673) Homepage Journal

    No, this is not "censorship". This is Toyota reclaiming your car because you drove to a bar and they [Toyota] don't have a liquor license.

    Not even close. More like Toyota voiding the lease and demanding the car back because the lease says "no entering car races" and you publicly state you're entering a car race with your leased Toyota.

    Still not quite right; more like, Toyota repossesses your car because you say you want to enter it in a race, and Toyota is under the impression that a certain type of license you don't posses is legally required for said race, even though there is no such licensing requirement.

  • Re:Its a shame... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Cid Highwind (9258) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @09:47AM (#41525695) Homepage

    Oh the internet armchair libertarian brigade. Even when it's private enterprise infringing someone's rights, they rant about the government.

    The "we don't have a license" angle is a diversion. This is all about Stratasys PR department not wanting a product they market to creative types to be linked in the public mind with the sort of firearms neckbeards that print AR lowers in their garages.

  • by BoberFett (127537) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @09:55AM (#41525843)

    Who was responsible for WW2 and the holocaust? Did that man personally kill millions or did he do it with the power of words? What is more dangerous, words or firearms?

  • the ammo (Score:4, Insightful)

    by amoeba1911 (978485) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @10:05AM (#41525975) Homepage

    I never understood the hoopla about the whole gun thing... the ammo is the part that does the actual launching of the bullet, the gun is just to hold the ammo+bullet together while they're being fired.

    It's kinda like putting serial numbers on hypodermic needles and making heroin legal enough to sell at Walmart.

  • Re:Printing Money (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @10:06AM (#41525993) Journal
    Printers tend to shut down when they detect currency. Often you need to call a technician to come reset the printer.
  • Re:Politics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mapsjanhere (1130359) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @10:19AM (#41526187)
    Your username says it all... For the record, as long as you obey rules on minimal length, maximal caliber and marking it you can make your own firearms all day long (from a Federal point of view at least). You cannot legally SELL or TRADE them, but making is legal. You can even buy 80% kits that are mostly machined for you and come with guides on where to drill the remaining holes, and you're still, under Federal law, legally making your own gun. And you don't have to register it with the federal government either. The only question in this case was the invisible weapons rule which makes it illegal to manufacture a weapon for the purpose of avoiding metal detectors which an all-printed gun might trigger.
  • by Baldrson (78598) * on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @10:29AM (#41526307) Homepage Journal
    The Second Amendment to the US Constitution clearly specifies that "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." It is clearly an "infringement" on the right of the people to keep and bear Arms for there to be Federal limits on the right to manufacture Arms. Since unconstitutional legislation is not law, there is no law against manufacture of Arms. The real question is: What to do about an outlaw government?
  • Re:Politics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 91degrees (207121) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @10:29AM (#41526317) Journal
    Thing is, when you have to be this specific, the analogy no longer has any purpose, and you might as well describe the situation.
  • Re:Politics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shrike82 (1471633) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @10:40AM (#41526463)

    No, this is not "censorship". This is Toyota reclaiming your car because you drove to a bar and they [Toyota] don't have a liquor license.

    Not even close. More like Toyota voiding the lease and demanding the car back because the lease says "no entering car races" and you publicly state you're entering a car race with your leased Toyota.

    Still not quite right; more like, Toyota repossesses your car because you say you want to enter it in a race, and Toyota is under the impression that a certain type of license you don't posses is legally required for said race, even though there is no such licensing requirement.

    We're getting closer. It's more like Toyota repossesses your car because you say you want to enter it in a race known for it's poor safety record for spectators, and Toyota is under the impression that a certain type of license you don't posses is legally required for said race, even though there is no such licensing requirement, but they don't want their brand associated with any negative press if any spectators get mowed down by their car.

  • Re:Politics (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @10:49AM (#41526607)

    invisible weapons rule which makes it illegal to manufacture a weapon for the purpose of avoiding metal detectors which an all-printed gun might trigger.

    The technology to print these weapons does not exist. As such, it won't trigger this clause. The tolerances on many printed components are well outside that which is required to safely operated a firearm. Yes, they can be machined, but printing is not the same as CNC'ing. Even still, barrels require special requirement to do properly.

  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @10:53AM (#41526649)
    I'm guessing this was done because the printer manufacturer is worried about the press that would hurt their buisiness, not because it's "illicit" or anything like that.

    "Coming up on your shitty cable news program, TERRORIST PEDOPHILES can print out NEARLY ANY AUTOMATIC DEATH WEAPON AT HOME! Some experts (on making ridiculous statements) suggest they could print a NUCLEAR BOMB!!! Are YOUR children safe? NO THEY'RE FUCKING NOT BECAUSE WE DON'T HAVE ANY LAWS AGAINST IT AND PEOPLE ARE ALREADY PRINTING OFF GUNS (sorta)"

    Which, they probably have legitimate reason to be concerned about that. Those stories will pop up, and people will write their congressmen who will suggest we need government regulation over what 3D things you can print off. And there are industries who have interests in people not being able to easily print off their own potentially copyright-infringing items. And it's too much to hope that such people won't be selfish and won't use such FUD to kill 3D printing before it gets off the ground.

    Still, I'd prefer people to deal head on with stupid bullshit FUD when it comes up rather than punishing individual customers who are driving the field forward.
  • Re:Politics (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @10:58AM (#41526711)
    The language they use here can be a little confusing.

    In this context, "non-sporting" generally means something that does not meet the minimal standards for "sporting" arms. Those standards include things like barrel length. So for example a "sawed-off" shotgun with a 12-inch barrel would be in the "non-sporting" category. You can make one yourself (in the U.S.), but you can't assemble one from imported parts. State regulations may also vary.

    Also, by "NFA" firearm, they mean something that was generally prohibited by the National Firearms Act. Examples might be fully automatic guns (manufactured after the Act was passed), or a 40mm grenade launcher. You can still obtain most NFA firearms, but you must pay a rather steep tax, and apply for approval from the ATF.
  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @11:04AM (#41526791)

    Under this logic, we should recall all inkjet and color lasers because folks can print counterfeit bills.

    If you're dumb enough to lease the printer instead of buying it and then publicly announce your intention to counterfeit, then yes, I imagine there would be some trouble for you.

  • by jythie (914043) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @11:35AM (#41527245)
    I think the idea wasn't just to print a gun, but to test the limits of a particular emergent technology and how it can be applied to the specific domain.

    If the goal was just to get guns, there are shops all over the place.
  • by Nethemas the Great (909900) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @11:38AM (#41527269)
    It isn't illicit. A manufacture's license is only required if you "sell" your product. The only problem would have been if the gun was illegal in that jurisdiction in the first place. Since Cody is a student of law in Texas. So, since it's Texas there's almost certainly no legal issue here and since he's a law student he'd stand a pretty good chance of knowing one way or another anyway. This has nothing to do with illegality and everything to do with Stratasys being fearful of getting a bad reputation as an enabler of terrorist groups and crazies.
  • by Plekto (1018050) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @12:22PM (#41527883)

    But, while it is not illegal to make a firearm for your own use. But he's got a major problem as the government sees "donations" and "selling" as pretty much the same thing when it comes to this. He's taking money in in some form and offering essentially DIY gun kits. Bad move. He's a moron for not paying the fees and doing the paperwork and then doing what hundreds of other companies small and large are doing legally. Firearms are BIG money in the U.S. He can then go one step further and offer the things as working cheaper alternatives, offer cheaper replacement parts, and so on.

    That's how he makes money at this. Not via donations, but via running a proper business. After all, have you SEEN the price of most firearms lately? A half or quarter-priced alternative would sell like crazy. He'd probably get a major retailer interested as well if the designs were properly safe and functional. As that show Son of Guns says, "If you're properly trained; if you're properly licensed, and you follow all of the laws, you too can do this." It never ceases to amaze me how many people out there make their lives difficult when a few dollars and some forms would have solved everything. Get your paperwork in order and you're golden. Forget about it and you're going to be dealing with people with little or no sense of humor.

    He had a genius idea and should have run it as a business. Now, he's given most of the info away and is stuck without the right permits and even a printer.

  • by locopuyo (1433631) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @01:03PM (#41528473) Homepage
    Take a look at Switzerland. They have amoung the highest amount of firearms per person but the lowest gun crime rate.
  • by omnichad (1198475) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @02:01PM (#41529279) Homepage

    French people have about 2.5 times less guns per capita compared with the US

    FTFY...For a second, I was terrified that we in the US actually had more than 2.5 guns per person! Thankfully, you provided a link.

  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @03:23PM (#41530263) Journal

    I'm guessing this was done because the printer manufacturer is worried about the press that would hurt their buisiness, not because it's "illicit" or anything like that.

    IMHO he's far more likely to be worried about being convicted on conspiracy charges and spending most of the rest of his life in federal PMITA prison if even one person who makes a gun using information from this project breaks even one tiny regulation.

    The federal firearms regulations are intended to ban most weapons manufacturing and transfer except under very controlled conditions. But the federal government didn't have the constitutional authorization to write such laws - so they were written as a tax. Because they're a tax, the courts have carved out this one loophole. But the federal agencies charged with enforcing the de facto ban does everything it can to find a way to prevent the use of this loophole.

    The primary agency in question is the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) - recently expanded to "and explosives (BATFE). They are notorious for their "zeal", general incompetence, extreme violence, willingness to bend the rules to make an arrest, and for prosecuting obviously failing cases until the accused is bankrupted and loses by default. They have put literally tens of thousands of people in federal prison for minor paperwork errors or claims that fender washers or pieces of muffler tubing are parts of silencers, or that dummy grenades are being made live. They have raided collectors (often licensed as "dealers" because it's WAY cheaper that way) because their own paperwork was fouled - or for no discernible reason. In one incident they threw a pregnant woman up against a wall (she miscarried shortly after) and deliberately stomped a kitten to death, just to show their power. They set up the situation in Ruby Ridge that ended with a federal sniper shooting a woman holding her baby, and in Waco where a church camp was burned to the ground - in both cases over a dispute about "a $200 tax". They are referred to as "F troop" by other federal law agencies. The "Jackbooted Thugs" ad campaign was the NRA's most effective recruiting aid.

    One of their favorite tricks is to have an agent pose as a curious teenager and ask someone at a gun show how to make a gun shoot full-auto. If he tells them, they arrest him for "conspiracy to violate the federal firearms act". (First amendment? What's that?) You can bet that they'd hang similar charges on the people running a company that leased a machine to a project that is attempting to enable the general population to sidestep the same laws easily and cheaply. It looks like the operator of the company is betting that way, too.

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