Technology to make guns with a 3-D printer prompts calls for legislation

A photo of the 3D gun printed by Texas-based Defense Distributed.
A photo of the 3D gun printed by Texas-based Defense Distributed.

It sounds pretty futuristic, but it’s now apparently possible to make your own gun – using a 3-D printer. That’s prompted one California legislator to propose banning the technology.

The Texas-based nonprofit group Defense Distributed is a collective of gun access advocates. Over the weekend the group successfully fired a handgun made mostly of plastic using a 3-D printer. The technology works by building up layer upon layer of material, usually plastic, to build solid objects. The group says bullets fired from such a gun would be untraceable, and has posted blueprints of the gun and videos of the test online.

U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York called the development “stomach-churning” and says legislation is needed to outlaw the technology. Heeding that call, California state senator Leland Yee has announced he will introduce a bill to ban the process here.

“We must be proactive in seeking solutions to this new threat rather than wait for the inevitable tragedies this will make possible.” – Leland Yee, in a statement

The Democratic legislator said that while he’s “as impressed as anyone with 3-D printing technology,” and that he believe it has amazing possibilities, he says he’s introducing the legislation to “ensure that it is not used for the wrong purpose.” A spokesman for Yee said language for the bill is still being drafted.

Yee has been a strong advocate for stiffening gun control measures, and even received threats of assassination earlier this year because of his proposed legislation to limit access to guns.

Listen to this past episode of Design and Architecture, which features a segment on 3-D guns.

And if you’re interested, watch this VICE-produced documentary on Defense Distributed’s Cody Wilson and the firing of a 3-D printed gun: