Senate to Push Gun Law Curbing 3-D Printing

3D-metal-gun

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote next week on an expanded gun law that would restrict the 3-D printing of firearms.

The move comes after the House of Representatives on Dec. 3 agreed to extend for another 10 years legislation banning guns that can’t be seen by metal detectors or X-ray machines.

The existing bill, known as the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988, is set to expire Dec. 10 and doesn’t take into account the increasingly popularity of 3-D printing technology, which allows hobbyists and businesses to build guns using metal or plastic components.

Gun control advocates say new language is necessary because the latest printing technology makes most detection systems obsolete, while gun rights proponents argue the opposite because the 3-D printers are expensive and not widely used.

Solid Concepts Inc., a custom manufacturing company based in Valencia, Calif., last month said it built the first-ever metal gun using a 3-D printer at its Texas facility.

While the U.S. military has already begun experimenting with 3-D printing, which is technically known as additive manufacturing, the technology isn’t limited to firearms.

General Electric Co. earlier this year announced it planned to make cobalt-chromium fuel nozzles for a certain type of engine using 3-D printing. The Fairfield, Conn.-based conglomerate even brought a demonstration model of a 3-D printer to last summer’s Paris Air Show to give attendees a firsthand look at how easily it operates — and to hand out small souvenir metallic prints.

The Senate, set to reconvene on Dec. 9, may push to adopt tougher language that would require plastic guns to be made with non-removable metal parts so they can be better detected. But if there aren’t enough votes to support the provision, the chamber will probably approve the existing law and revisit the issue next year.

About the Author

Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of Military.com. He can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.

10 Comments on "Senate to Push Gun Law Curbing 3-D Printing"

  1. Pointless.

    Let's say I'm a terrorist and want to hijack a plane. Ok, so I can't get a 3D printed gun onto the plane. Fine. I'll just bring a 3D printed knife.

  2. The House wont go for Scumers expanded gun ban so the whole law will expire then.

  3. JDs Handsome Son | December 4, 2013 at 6:14 pm | Reply

    I hope our legislators don't find out about the new invisible ink full auto ARs with collapsible stocks, bayonet lugs, 100 round drums, and 10 inch barrels that can be assembled anywhere by anybody, even minors and the criminally insane, and can be shipped in the mail bypassing FFLs all over the country. They've got cool pistol grips and are totally suppressed, so that not only can they not be seen, they can't be heard when they fire invisible steel piercing incendiary rounds from two miles with no loss in velocity and knock down power.

    Keep this under your hats, everyone.

  4. Let's be real, the only reason this bill is being pushed through is because the gun manufactures are worried it'll threaten their business when people can make their own guns for a fraction of the cost in a few years, they've already successfully made automatic rifles with 3D printing (And no, they aren't "plastic"). It's the same reason why "normal" guns aren't ever going to be banned, the corporations want to keep their weapons priced high, and thus all the money they make to themselves!

  5. I don’t understand how 3D printing a firearm makes it “undetectable” to current security measures. It is my understanding that regardless of it being printed out of metal or plastic, it can still be viewed and seen as a firearm through an x-ray device. Body scanners and pat downs also provide additional levels of security before boarding planes.

  6. This works in favor of gun manufacturers.

  7. That’s how you got the import bans. It’s funny how quick the gun manufacturers switch sides when it helps them keep the monopoly. This cap will pass. I don’t think NRA is on your side on this, with all the money they get from the big players in the industry.

  8. This looks like a solution in search of a problem.

    First, if I'm a bad guy trying to smuggle a weapon aboard an aircraft, I've already got malice and law breaking in mind.

    So, do they REALLY think a bad guy will obey the law here? Obviously not. A bad guy will download the plans, build the weapon and do what he/she wants.

    Good comments by everybody, thanks for the chance to contribute.

  9. I have a fundemental question. Has anyone actually seen one of these "invisable" guns actually fire a round? I would have to think that there would be serious questions about the strength of the weapon and the ability to contain the chamber pressure. I wonder if the "experts" in Washington aren't all spun up over a problem that doesn't really exist.

  10. COMIC VINE HERO | January 14, 2014 at 2:13 pm | Reply

    Just like loading your own had no lasting impact on factory loads, there will be no impact by building your own on the gun manufacturing industry. It will be no different than what building your own gun and wildcat rounds is now, only different tools meaning the 3D printer and desktop CNC. The ideas and products from organized professional companies, who themselves may also use 3D printing and desktop CNC on certain of their products, will be just as sought after for their design, use of ideas and resources and the skill of the craft of their manufacturing excellence as they are now. 3D printing and desktop CNC are just more new tools, as were CNC, computers, phones and the internet. There is no threat from any of this. Companies will also adapt many new ideas they learn from personal home manufacturers, no different than what they do now and have always done.

    Also, after X-Rays, patdowns and strip searches, these homemade guns won't be "invisible" for very long. LOLOL

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