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Printer Your Rights Online

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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  • Re:Overreaction. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by QuasiSteve (2042606) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @10:34AM (#41525509)

    Wired seemed to have a better write-up of potential legal angles:
    http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/10/3d-gun-blocked/ [wired.com]

    Regardless of legal angles, though, Stratasys made it clear that this is not what they want their machines used for, and that is that. If he bought it, it might be different - but he was basically just renting it. I'm sure he can get a different 3D printer to work with.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @10:58AM (#41525881)

    Even toy guns?

    If it meets the requirements to be considered a firearm, then yes. Use something non-explosive (compressed gas) or don't fire a projectile and you won't run afoul of the authorities.

    The real answer is... it's complicated. In some States you can make your own firearms with some limitations- they can't be distributed at all, personal use only, usually you can't use them for licensed sporting activities like Hunting, can't be a machine gun or military-grade weaponry, and stuff like that. Regardless of what you're doing, if you announce it publicly then you should expect a visit from the ATF and they'll explain the rules to you in precise detail. But possibly not quite as nicely.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @11:07AM (#41526001)

    Put simply, it's not nearly that simple. There are all kinds of strange laws which pile on top of this one law alone, and there are laws in each State which often further restrict your ability to make a firearm. Then you have to consider local ordinances- it may be legal to make a particular gun, but not if you do it within city limits, for example. Or maybe you are free to make them, but you have to take peculiar "safety" precautions... such as obtaining a hard-to-get permit from the authorities.

    The best answer is that you're better off carefully examining the definition of a firearm and make something which doesn't fall under the same legal framework as a "real gun". You can do some pretty fun things with compressed gasses, for example. Magnets are also neat, if you know how they fucking work. (If you don't then you've probably spent your homework time learning to apply ghoulish facepaint instead)

  • by Coeurderoy (717228) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @12:57PM (#41527567)

    Considering the number of weapons in the US, you do not need to bother, you can certainly buy about anything you might want on the white or grey market...

    It is probably useless now to seriously try to reduce the numbers of gun in the US.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Number_of_guns_per_capita_by_country [wikipedia.org]

    What you might want to do it to look at this
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_firearm-related_death_rate [wikipedia.org]

    And think about education and social contracts...

    French people have about 2.5 less guns per capita compared with the US, they have comparable suicide rates (sometimes red wine is not enough), but only 10% ot the murder rate.
    In other words a gun in France is 4 time less liable to kill somebody than in the US....

    Or put in another form, american culture and social makeup explains approx 30 000 dead people per year, the fact that it is gun related is not the main factor.

  • by dwillden (521345) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @01:37PM (#41528079) Homepage
    Nothing illicit about it. It is 100% legal to make your own firearms. Federal law only comes into play when you wish to transfer the firearm to another individual (sell). At least two states (Utah and Montana) have authorized in-state only firearms that do not need any federal paperwork or serial number if made for and sold only in state.

    i.e. if it does not cross state borders it does not enter interstate commerce and thus the Feds have no authority to regulate, as their authority to regulate was imposed via the commerce clause.

    There is already a good sized community of metal workers who make their own guns, they share plans and designs just as this group planned to do, and then each individual can make his own fully legal firearm. This just moved it to another group of hobbyists.
  • by dwillden (521345) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @01:47PM (#41528223) Homepage
    Nope, what he was offering are not kits but plans/designs to allow those with the equipment to manufacture firearms. Something that is already legal and quite common in the metal working community. It's not illegal or even questionable to sell or share plans and blue prints. And it's not illegal or even questionable to build your own off of those plans. Plans are just that plans, without the equipment and knowhow said plans are not going to result in a firearm. But even if they do result in a home made firearm, that's still a legal activity. Regardless of how you got the plans, it's the actual firearm that would be in question, not the instructions.

    What is questionable is the grounds on which this company violated a contract with no solid legal basis for doing so. The Feds hadn't said word one about it because until someone transfers (gives or sells) a home made firearm without a manufacturer's license there is no crime being committed in the manufacture, possession or use of said home made firearm. You can make all the guns you want for your own use as long as you retain legal ownership of the firearm. You just cannot legally transfer one without a license or at least a registered serial number (there are methods for obtaining a serial number to enable transfer of the firearm at a later date).
  • Re:Politics (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bryansix (761547) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @04:25PM (#41530301) Homepage
    I'd just like to point out here that Ted Kennedy's car killed more people then Charlton Heston's Gun (or my gun for that matter).

Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth. -- Nero Wolfe

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