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Digging Into the Legal Status of 3-D Printed Guns

timothy posted 1 year,29 days | from the point-of-clarification-your-honor dept.

Government 404

jfruh writes "Defense Distributed, a U.S. nonprofit that aims to make plans for guns available owners of 3-D printers, recently received a federal firearms license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. That license doesn't cover semi-automatic weapons and machine guns, though — and there are questions about whether the legislation that defines that license really apply to the act of giving someone 3-D printing patterns. Experts on all sides of the issue seemed to agree that no clarification of the law would happen until a high-profile crime involving a 3-D printed weapon was committed."

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404 comments

Tobocco? (1)

aglider (2435074) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234175)

It'd be a new type of weapon!

Re:Tobocco? (1)

systemidx (2708649) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234247)

I wonder if it's anything like Tomacco.

Re:Tobocco? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43234403)

I downloaded the plans for and printed a stash of both Tobocco and Tomacco. That shit smokes and tastes like plastic resin.

TimmyFail!

call it tomacco and you can sell it to kids (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43234307)

call it tomacco and you can sell it to kids

Re:Tobocco? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43234365)

Nothing about "seemd"?

Re:Tobocco? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43234837)

It seemd that jfruh was a little rushed.

Why does 3d printing matter (5, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234245)

In what way is using a 3d printer different than me making a semi-AK out of a sheet metal and supplies from homedepot?

I just don't see how it matter what tech made the gun parts. This seems more like attention seeking than a real concern. Home manufacture of semi-auto long rifles is federally speaking totally legal.

Re:Why does 3d printing matter (3, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234283)

Reading the article I see the summary is once again totally useless.

The issue is the manufacture of NFA weapons. 3d printing changes nothing about this, you cannot get or make NFA weapons without getting a stamp.

Re:Why does 3d printing matter (1)

rossdee (243626) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234301)

Where do you get the barrel from?

Re:Why does 3d printing matter (3, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234341)

You can either use plumbing pipe or buy one online.
Obviously the use of plumping pipe has accuracy repercussions but it can be a functional firearm if that is all you are going for.
Barrels are not controlled by any law I know of.

Re:Why does 3d printing matter (5, Informative)

Casey Annis (2872247) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234535)

Actually 'Rifle Barrels' under a certain length are regulated by the National Firearms Act (NFA) and enforced by the ATF. The NFA defines NFA "firearm" as: A shotgun or rifle having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length or any other weapon, other than a pistol or revolver, from which a shot is discharged by an explosive if such weapon is capable of being concealed on the person, or a machinegun, and includes a muffler or silencer for any firearm whether or not such a firearm is included in the foregoing definition.[3][4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Firearms_Act [wikipedia.org] -Casey

Re:Why does 3d printing matter (4, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234639)

Only when installed on the gun, or when you have the gun and the barrel and intent.

Otherwise all pistol barels would be illegal as they could be used on rifles with a little machining.

Re:Why does 3d printing matter (1)

Casey Annis (2872247) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234869)

True. Although the definition of intent is very open to interpretation. Suppose I buy a .308 match barrel at 24" it's perfectly legal. If I take that same barrel and for sh*ts and giggles cut and crown it down to 17" but I don't install it on the receiver who defines my intent to do so in the future. As much as I hate legalese I hate vague legalese even more. --Casey

Re:Why does 3d printing matter (1)

krakass (935403) | 1 year,29 days | (#43235005)

The NFA was amended so you'd still be fine as long as you didn't cut it down to less than 16". But yes, constructive possession can be a very slippery slope.

Re:Why does 3d printing matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43234419)

Metal, lathe, drill?

Re:Why does 3d printing matter (5, Insightful)

Archangel Michael (180766) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234481)

Obviously, we need to regulate machining tools because those might make a gun. And we must regulate robotic Metal Presses, because those might make machining tools, which might make guns. We need to regulate mining iron ore, because iron ore is used to make gun parts, machining tools and Robotics. And we must regulate Big Trucks, because they might carry dirt used in mining iron ore ....

At some point, laws don't stop people. And making more laws doesn't help.

Re:Why does 3d printing matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43234647)

But if make a hell of a lot of laws you can employ millions to try and enforce them.

Re:Why does 3d printing matter (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43234727)

Obviously method X of easily making object Y by pressing a button is exactly the same as method Z of making object Y which takes skill and expensive machinery, so if method Z is at all possible without a license, then we shouldn't bother trying to license method X at all.

Yes, perfect logic, if you lack any common sense at all.

Re:Why does 3d printing matter (1)

heypete (60671) | 1 year,29 days | (#43235099)

It's actually cheaper to buy the basic machinery (a drill press) and metal parts to make a gun than it is to buy a 3D-printer. The skills required is essentially "can operate a power drill". It's really not that complex.

Sure, 3D-printing is easier, but not by much.

It's not like requiring a license will stop either methods of making guns -- that ship sailed a long time ago.

Re:Why does 3d printing matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43235141)

Obviously method X of easily making object Y by pressing a button is exactly the same as method Z of making object Y which takes skill and expensive machinery, so if method Z is at all possible without a license, then we shouldn't bother trying to license method X at all.

Yes, perfect logic, if you lack any common sense at all.

If you have a fancy enough CNC machine, many of the parts in question can be made by inserting the base material block, closing the door, and hitting a button to run the program. Not much different than what you described for a 3D printed version save for the cost. So you want only RICH people to be able to make their own, but POOR people who can only afford a 3D printer... can't have them making their own gun parts inexpensively.

You are an elitist snob.

Re:Why does 3d printing matter (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43234931)

All we need to do is put everyone in restraints. This will prevent the manufacture of firearms, and preserve resources after everyone starves to death.

Re:Why does 3d printing matter (5, Insightful)

arekin (2605525) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234973)

Obviously, we need to regulate machining tools because those might make a gun. And we must regulate robotic Metal Presses, because those might make machining tools, which might make guns. We need to regulate mining iron ore, because iron ore is used to make gun parts, machining tools and Robotics. And we must regulate Big Trucks, because they might carry dirt used in mining iron ore ....

At some point, laws don't stop people. And making more laws doesn't help.

Slippery Slope fallacy much? We make laws to define legality, not to ensure that nothing illegal ever happens. If making something a law was an immediate solution we would have not crime ever. If it is illegal to print weapons then most people will not do it because they do not wish to break the law. In fact the people who would wish to break the law to get a gun will just go get a actual gun not a 3d printed one. No point in getting arrested over a temporary weapon.

Re:Why does 3d printing matter (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43234447)

Uh, anywhere, as a barrel is not a gun, and not regulated as such.

The receiver, or more specifically lower receiver, is what is legally defined as the 'gun' when you're discussing long guns.

Re:Why does 3d printing matter (4, Insightful)

czth (454384) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234503)

In the US, the lower receiver is considered the firearm for most legal purposes (it is the part that has the serial number and requires a background check if bought new or from a dealer), whereas barrels (part of the upper receiver, or just "upper"), at this time, do not, and can be, for example, bought through the mail or at a store with no infringing background or ID check. One can buy a barrel of barrels and then print lowers (and magazines if standard capacity magazines become banned) for them without getting any sort of permission from the state, and assemble a firearm. (For nitpickers, you do of course need more than just an upper and lower, but those other parts, such as the trigger assembly, can also be ordered without state interference.)

Re:Why does 3d printing matter (3, Interesting)

jonwil (467024) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234559)

Fact is, the parts of a modern machine gun (including full-auto) that a skilled metalworker can't easily fabricate at home ARE legally available online with no restrictions or background check.

And if you dont care about making a good gun, just something that can cause some damage, its even easier.

Re:Why does 3d printing matter (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43234653)

And if you dont care about making a good gun, just something that can cause some damage, its even easier.

PVC pipe and hairspray!

Re:Why does 3d printing matter (1)

Casey Annis (2872247) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234911)

It that is the case it is in direct conflict with the NFA which ascribes the definition of 'machine gun' to existing machine gun models as well as any drop in auto sear or components that could convert an otherwise non-NFA defined firearm into a fully automatic firearm. --Casey

Re:Why does 3d printing matter (2)

redmid17 (1217076) | 1 year,29 days | (#43235119)

Most of the parts of a modern machine gun are identical to the semi-auto models. The few that aren't available legally to non-FFL require the background check but aren't too difficult to manufacture. The trick is to get the timing on the gun so it doesn't always jam or fail.

Re:Why does 3d printing matter (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234623)

Only for Semis and ARs more specifically. For bolt guns the action is the gun. This is why you can have a mauser barrel shipped to your house, but not a barreled action.

Re:Why does 3d printing matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43234357)

Because fabricating a gun out of metal is expensive and takes a lot of skill. 3D printers are rapidly decreasing in price and will eventually become affordable enough for people to fabricate a wide variety of items with minimal skill and cost.

Re:Why does 3d printing matter (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234411)

There is no need to fabricate a lower out of metal, 3d printing does not change that. You can make one out of wood if you like.

3d printers are not capable of fabricating the high stress parts.

Re:Why does 3d printing matter (1)

redmid17 (1217076) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234483)

Not on a commercially viable level. The company in the story originally created a lower than lasted 6 rounds before it broke. Their latest lasted 600 rounds, and that was only a few months of development.

Re:Why does 3d printing matter (1)

firex726 (1188453) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234633)

Also I think it was BMW or someone who is looking into 3D printing using metal.
It's not as strong but it's still printed metal.

Re:Why does 3d printing matter (1)

gl4ss (559668) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234919)

Also I think it was BMW or someone who is looking into 3D printing using metal.
It's not as strong but it's still printed metal.

there's a bunch of techniques for it on the market today. main point for doing it that way instead of milling is that it allows different construction and inside structures..

Re:Why does 3d printing matter (1)

gl4ss (559668) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234907)

and you and I could clone a lower from some resin, pieces of metals, wood or whatever.
the point being that frankly their approach to the gun manufacturing sucks monkeyballs and that they're publicity trolling idiots(well, publicity and a bit of spare change trolling dolts..).

now, if their approach included doing some new design, then it would be more interesting. revolving block design or something else that could be manufactured at home from combination of printed bits and parts available from any hw store. or a coil gun design for nails.

I mean, sterling smg design already exists. it's not complicated to manufacture. doesn't require much in way of tooling either.

Re:Why does 3d printing matter (5, Informative)

heypete (60671) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234901)

While making the whole gun from scratch is hard, it's not really that hard if you use an 80% complete receiver/frame. The ATF decided that a chunk of metal becomes a "gun" when more than 80% of its production is completed. There's many companies that sell, for example, 80%-complete AR-15 lower receivers. Legally, it's a chunk of metal but you can do some basic work to finish it up.

For example, here's some instructions [cncguns.com]. You basically need a drill press (about $100 from Amazon or $70 from Harbor Freight), some drill bits (and maybe an endmill bit) which are available for cheap at hardware stores, and some basic supplies like wood, a permanent marker, etc. 80% lowers are about $80 for small volumes but get cheaper in bulk. You can buy the jigs that tell you exactly where to drill for about $120 and they can be used to produce as many lowers as you want (they don't really wear out).

The fire control parts, trigger, grip, etc. are about $80.

For the "complete" gun parts, it's about $750 (that includes everything except the machine tool parts -- it includes the barrel, stock, fire control parts, etc.).

Operating a drill press isn't terribly hard and one can be trained in a few minutes. After that, it takes a few hours to make the needed holes and the jig makes it pretty idiot-proof. Putting the rifle together isn't terribly hard (and there's lots of information online that details how to do this) and you're good to go. Basically, it's less than a day's work and less than $1,000 for the first rifle (with the cost being amortized if you make any more).

Certain groups have "build parties" where you put your 80% lower into a CNC mill and press "start". Since you push the button, it's you who are making the gun (as opposed to the machinist) and thus is legal. It can make it in about 8 minutes.

Sure, making your own rifle out of metal isn't trivial like it is with a 3D-printer (where you just hit "print"), but it's not that hard either.

Re:Why does 3d printing matter (5, Insightful)

SirGarlon (845873) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234603)

I just don't see how it matter what tech made the gun parts

Legally, it shouldn't matter. Practically, 3D printing has big implications for gun right/gun control.

The whole idea of gun control is based on a premise that making guns is hard, requiring precision equipment and expertise. Through the end of the 20th century, it required either a specially-tooled factory, an expert craftsman, or both. (Some guns like the AK series are easier to make than others.) So the approach to gun control was to regulate the factories and the sale of what the factories produce.

As you say, home manufacture is legal. It's not worth regulating: the expertise was rare, and the scale of production was low, and there were not any high-profile cases of homemade guns being used in heinous crimes.

3D printing changes the world so that making a gun no longer requires specialized equipment nor specialized skills. So from the gun-control point of view, there is a real risk of guns being made in secret, in a decentralized way that is hard to detect, and being trafficked outside the existing system of licensed dealers and background checks. So the old framework of gun-control laws won't work. A would-be criminal who can easily make his own gun neatly evades the whole system.

There big question is, what will replace the old legal model? There are many possible things the legislature could try, from giving up on gun control (unlikely) to trying to regulate the plans for gun parts (impractical, as we know from file sharing) to trying to clamp down on the printers themselves (scary).

This is how the tech used to make the gun parts matters.

Re:Why does 3d printing matter (4, Interesting)

Annirak (181684) | 1 year,29 days | (#43235131)

I just don't see how it matter what tech made the gun parts

Legally, it shouldn't matter. Practically, 3D printing has big implications for gun right/gun control.

I disagree. It took me a while to put my finger on it, but I finally worked it out. 3D printing is not a revolution, it's just popular. You can put a CNC mill together for between 1.5x and 2x the price of a hobbyist 3D printer. It will work with metal and it will produce a smoother and more accurate final product. Why is 3D printing being singled out when CNC mills are a much more viable problem?

3D printing changes the world so that making a gun no longer requires specialized equipment nor specialized skills. So from the gun-control point of view, there is a real risk of guns being made in secret, in a decentralized way that is hard to detect, and being trafficked outside the existing system of licensed dealers and background checks. So the old framework of gun-control laws won't work. A would-be criminal who can easily make his own gun neatly evades the whole system.

This simply isn't true. Home CNC has been around for over a decade, in the $2000-$10,000 range. The more DIY you want to get, the lower it goes. The software is open source (LinuxCNC) and the electronics are simple.

There big question is, what will replace the old legal model? There are many possible things the legislature could try, from giving up on gun control (unlikely) to trying to regulate the plans for gun parts (impractical, as we know from file sharing) to trying to clamp down on the printers themselves (scary).

This is a good question. The problem, though, is that the ship has sailed on controlling the printers. There are so many plans available from so many people (see file sharing) and the printers themselves are cobbled together from hobby electronics and parts you can buy at Home Depot.

This is how the tech used to make the gun parts matters.

You may be right that someone in government will try and crack down on the printers themselves (Think of the children!), but it won't be long after that happens that someone with a CNC mill starts producing "controlled" items. The technology used is irrelevant.

Re:Why does 3d printing matter (2, Insightful)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234695)

Because this allows any Average Joe at home to print the action of a gun, the legally controlled part, all on his own with no skill or expensive machinery and then obtain the other parts as easily as buying some used videogames, and assemble a working weapon. Legally it's no different from making a gun in a home metal shop but practically, it greatly lowers the barriers of entry to making a home-built firearm that has never been on any records of any kind. It also allows high-capacity mags to be made at home more easily, if that matters.

I'd think it was really cool if this weren't a weapon we were talking about, especially one that can kill at long range and high frequency.

Re:Why does 3d printing matter (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234879)

Or you could skip all those steps and go buy an AR at the local gun shop.

A normal AR is not much of a long range tool, now your grandpa's mauser, that is like AT&T. Reach out and touch someone, at 1000M even. High frequency is something a level gun can do.

Either way if we want to end gun deaths, banning pistols which are used in order of magnitudes more murders would be a far better approach.

Re:Why does 3d printing matter (1)

heypete (60671) | 1 year,29 days | (#43235047)

*shrugs* 3D printers cost about $2,000 + filament.

A drill press is about $100, the necessary drill bits are maybe $20-30, the drilling jig is about $125, and the 80% lower receiver and gun parts are about $750. Total cost: about $1,000, or about half the cost of a 3D printer. It's all metal, more durable, and completely unregulated.

If you can follow basic directions (drill here, squirt oil here, etc.) then you can make a gun in a few hours even with minimal skills. Sure, it's not as easy as "download, click 'print'" but it's not hard.

For me, the major thing is mags. Magazine restrictions are silly and ineffective, yet politicians seem to like them. Being able to make reasonable-quality mags in one's own home is nice. Or, even better, would be to use the 3D-printer to make a jig that you could use to make metal mags. It'd be a bit more durable too.

Re:Why does 3d printing matter (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234811)

In what way is using a 3d printer different than me making a semi-AK out of a sheet metal and supplies from homedepot?

You don't even need sheet metal, but you can can actually make an AK from parts purchased at home depot, such as a shovel [northeastshooters.com].

Re:Why does 3d printing matter (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43234953)

It's because 3D printing is the geek self-fellatio of the moment. Look, people used to build WHOLE guns (not just some "legal definition") out of bedsprings and pipes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sten [wikipedia.org]

But the mythology around 3D printing is that we'll have this magical machine that will print out entire complex usable and durable objects that are just like the mass produced things we have now, but magic.

So by using some legal trickery, we get to define a blob of plastic as a "gun", which is disingenuous because laypeople will think of a real, actual, metal gun with all kinds of metals and alloys and parts and oil and everything. Then the 3D printing nutters can act like their glue guns on a stepper motor are just like Star Trek replicators.

Re:Why does 3d printing matter (1)

vux984 (928602) | 1 year,29 days | (#43235183)

I just don't see how it matter what tech made the gun parts.

Kind of like how p2p file sharing is legally no different then copyright infringement committed with a printing press right?

Except that its practical impact completely reshaped the landscape. 3D printing has the ability to be similarly game changing.

I don't need to learn how to use complicated tools. I don't have to learn how to read complicated technical diagrams so that I no what to build.

I go to my friends house, download a gun file, and press print. Legally it may be the same, but in every other way it completely changes everything.

Semi-automatic weapons (5, Informative)

danb35 (112739) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234279)

Yes, if it's a manufacturer's FFL (TFA didn't specify, but it seems to be the case from context), it does cover production of semi-automatic firearms as well as pump-action, bolt-action, revolvers, and most others. Machine guns are separate, being (as TFA notes) covered by the National Firearms Act, not the Gun Control Act. For right now, federally speaking, domestically-made semi-automatic firearms don't have any special or unique status. If Senator Feinstein gets her way, of course, that will change, but it's the case currently.

Re:Semi-automatic weapons (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234317)

So are short barreled rifles, semi-auto guns that are considered not to have a sporting purpose and pretty much anything that does not cleanly fall into the categories of the GCA. Again this does not make them illegal to own just you need to pay the tax and do the paperwork.

Re:Semi-automatic weapons (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43234485)

The Sporting Purpose test is only for importing firearms, otherwise it's anything not directly covered by the NFA is legal to manufacture.
The NFA limitations are short barreled rifles (less than 16" barrel with a stock), short barreled smooth bores (less than 18" barrel with or without a stock), destructive devices (greater than .5" bore that is not otherwise exempted) and guns with less than 26" over all length without a pistol grip which is intended to make zip guns illegal.

I could need some correction on some minor points in there, but that should cover it.

Re:Semi-automatic weapons (2)

Casey Annis (2872247) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234751)

I think the biggest problem with the inclusion of the words "without significant sporting purpose" is that who decides this and what are the thresholds for defining it. When we went hunting this year I took my Mosin Nagant M91/30, a true battle rifle albeit and old one. We also had an AR-10 and an AR-15 as well. Just because the AR platform guns look like they could be carried into a war zone does not make it any less valid for sporting use. Cosmetic changes to popular sporting caliber firearms do not make them battle rifles. Conversely the idea that sporting purpose is reserved only for hunting is also wrong. With the rise of defensive tactics as a sporting category these firearms are the platform of choice for competitors. As long as Defense Distributed has the appropriate level of FFL they are within their rights as a manufacturer to produce serialized and registered parts for these platforms. An example of something they can't produce for sale under their current license would be a drop in auto sear which would convert one of the semi-auto platforms to a full-auto platform. They can however produce firearms for sale, development and testing purposes that can include full-auto firing platforms if they submit and file a Class 3 upgrade to their Type 7 FFL. --Casey

Re:Semi-automatic weapons (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234959)

The AR-15 being 5.56 is what makes it no good for hunting. Get a .308 or better. 5.56 is just too weak for good deer medicine.

Re:Semi-automatic weapons (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43235197)

The AR-15 being 5.56 is what makes it no good for hunting. Get a .308 or better. 5.56 is just too weak for good deer medicine.

So you assume hunting only refers to bigger game such as deer?

Semi-Automatic? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43234315)

I think the summary means fully-automatic, ie: more than one round per trigger pull. Semi-Automatic is pretty standard.

Bad info (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43234339)

While the article doesn't specify which Federal Firearms License type DefDist acquired, I am not aware of any that separate semi-automatic firearms form others... methinks they are in error.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Firearms_License

Time was (1, Insightful)

Stargoat (658863) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234353)

There was a time in this country when if a thing was not illegal, then it was legal. It's amazing, I know, but it is true.

That is no longer the case. And we are all the worse for it.

We can start by ceasing to make guns illegal, repealing the prohibition on marijuana, and removing of some of the more onerous parts of the various ADAs and EPAs.

Re:Time was (1)

gQuigs (913879) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234409)

> There was a time in this country when if a thing was not illegal, then it was legal.

How is that not still the case? In fact, in the summary it basically said 3d printed guns will be legal until something bad happens with them.

Re:Time was (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43234507)

Monsieur, si yuo n'aime pas ca ici en France, then go back to America.

Re:Time was (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43235193)

Good luck with that. The right people (aka: the upper caste) are getting WAY too much money from the prisons being full, and fines and arrests being made as much and as fast as is humanly possible.

So you'll achieve your goal when you somehow convince a horde of 1%'ers to want less money. Good luck with that.

North American society is on a path that absolutely cannot be changed without complete collapse... and the upper caste are the ones that dictate if there is complete collapse or not. The single only hope is that an external force pushes the USA to spend vastly even MORE money than it already is, and causes the US dollar to devalue to be worthless. I highly doubt this will occur either in our lives, our children's lives, or their children's lives.

What's the ambiguity? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43234361)

I can't even tell what the question is, here.

If you manufacturer something on a printer or a lathe, broad laws which cover the manufacture of certain shapes are going to apply, regardless of the technique. Unless the law explicitly mentions a particular manufacturing process. Does it? Probably not.

Defense Distributed's goal of selling plans isn't going to be covered. But apparently they intend to make and sell guns too, not just plans, and that's what they just got a license for.

Everything about the legal status appears to be pretty simple and in no need of clarification. At worst, people might not like the existing law, and "clarification" is a code word for "change."

Re:What's the ambiguity? (1)

heypete (60671) | 1 year,29 days | (#43235161)

They're also getting the SOT so they can design and make full-auto guns. It'd be illegal for private citizens to own post-1986 machine guns (but it's quite legal for dealers/manufacturers to make them either for their own internal purposes or for sale to police/military). It's not illegal for them to publish the designs for 3D-printing machine guns (though it'd be very illegal for the average person to print such a gun).

Regulate ammunition sales (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43234423)

Ammunition tends to be cheaper than the gun. Regulating bulk explosive charge materials would capture most of those who 3d print molds to make their own ammunition.

Re:Regulate ammunition sales (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43234923)

I suppose we'll start storing bleach and other chemicals behind the pharmacy counter and requiring an I.D. before purchase?

News article that is, yet again, slightly wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43234437)

Umm, yea...I am pretty sure he can make and sell semiautomatics with an FFL. I am a bit tired of the media constantly getting little facts, here and there, wrong. What is up with this nonsense? He can't do full auto and silencers, but he can do semiautomatics / autoloaders.

Re:News article that is, yet again, slightly wrong (1)

Foldarn (1152051) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234525)

Not always. You can get a C&R FFL that doesn't allow you to sell your own firearms. In most cases, yes. Just not all. Cheers.

This just in (3, Informative)

redmid17 (1217076) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234459)

You don't need an FFL to create your own guns. You just need an FFL if you want to sell your guns commercially. Don't fuck this up congress. It's still illegal for prohibited persons from making a gun for their own use unless it's a black powder muzzle loader (aka non-modern firearm), though that might be restricted in some states AFAIK

Re:This just in (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43234719)

Don't fuck this up congress.

Now you've done it. Perhaps you'd like to add one of "what could go wrong?", "things couldn't possibly get any worse", or "let's split up" for good measure?

What do US folk need guns for exactly? (-1, Flamebait)

Aguazul2 (2591049) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234753)

So, you've got all these guns. What do you do with them exactly? There is no sign of anyone using them to overthrow the government or actually change anything. About the only difference I can see compared to a society that lives without guns is that you have more high school massacres. Is it some kind of a macho power thing -- you're not a man without a gun? Or is it that your TV makes everyone so scared they think they need one?

Re:What do US folk need guns for exactly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43234827)

I guess your world only has butterflies and unicorns then.

Re:What do US folk need guns for exactly? (2)

redmid17 (1217076) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234853)

Well it's a right so you don't need it for anything to one one. However I use mine for hunting and sport shooting. I would use them for self-defense if I had to.

Re:What do US folk need guns for exactly? (3, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,29 days | (#43235077)

I shoot feral animals.

You come up with a better way to deal with hogs I would love to hear it. They destroy property, kill pets and displace native fauna.

Defense against tyranny, and simply self-defense. (4, Insightful)

zerofoo (262795) | 1 year,29 days | (#43235079)

The right to keep and bear arms goes back to the founding days of this country. Our founding fathers realized that without an armed population, government is free to do as it wishes. Our founders needed their guns to declare their independence and self-rule. They also knew that maintaining that independence required an armed populace.

I am stunned when someone poses a statement along the lines of: "You don't have tyranny, why do you need guns?" The person asking this question never stops to think "maybe they don't have tyranny because they have guns".

The next standard argument against guns is that a guy with a rifle could never challenge a tank or aircraft. This is true. But what an armed population lacks in technology, they make up for in numbers. During hunting season the woods of Pennsylvania are filled with 600,000 to 700,000 armed people. At that time, it is the largest "standing army" in the world. Think about that for a minute - one state of hunters dwarfs the biggest standing army in the world.

If tyranny comes to our country, the entire armed population will need to fight. If Afghanistan and Syria taught us anything it's that armed asymmetric guerrilla warfare is very effective. It even gives the world's best funded, best trained military a difficult time.

The responsibility of bearing arms is not a "macho" or "manly" thing. I choose to become proficient with firearms for a number of reasons - readiness if my country needs me, and readiness if my family needs me. I could not live with myself if someone caused harm to my family and I could do nothing to stop them.

Finally, the right of free men and women to defend themselves and their property is a natural-born right, not subject to the political process or the whims of others. Those that say they are free without the means to defend themselves are only free so long as others allow them to be free. That is not true freedom.

The concepts of freedom, liberty, and self-defense are not difficult concepts to understand. They are so deeply ingrained in american life, that these protections have been intentionally and strongly worded into our government's founding documents. These are the documents we all agree to govern ourselves by.

Re:What do US folk need guns for exactly? (1)

Casey Annis (2872247) | 1 year,29 days | (#43235085)

We have guns and other defensive weapons not because we are trying to over throw the government or because it is a macho thing to do. It is as our Nation's Fore Fathers defined in the Constitution the right of American Citizens to bare arms and to have the right to assemble a well armed militia. The need for a militia may not be present now but at the time the document was written we had just finished a bloody revolution and we were marching into unknown territory as the population spread west. The Government could ill afford a standing military in every territory in which its citizens might find themselves. They were also aware that not all governments foreign or domestic may remain altruistic in their endeavors and that defense of home and hearth was likely to be necessary in the future. So yes we cherish our ability to own firearms and there are a lot of reasons for which we do. However I wouldn't expect anyone not a citizen of the U.S. to understand the rights we hold close to heart as is evidenced by your ignorance of our society and your apparent need to denigrate our cultural habits. The school shootings are very dark portions of our history and using them to take punches at our culture in general is base and unappreciated. -- Casey

Symptomatic of what's wrong with American politics (0, Troll)

gubon13 (2695335) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234461)

"Experts on all sides of the issue seemd to agree that no clarification of the law would happen until a high-profile crime involving a 3-D printed weapon was committed."

Yes, let's just file this issue away until the problem is too pervasive to control. Nobody take responsibility. Brilliant.

The ineptitude of American politics and their reactionist mentality have slowly turned us into a de facto laissez-faire society. The reality is that our government is highly ineffective at dealing with modern issues, let alone proactively seeking to address potential concerns from emerging technologies. With gun issues at the forefront of today's political discussion, how is this not a topic that needs immediate attention?

Re:Symptomatic of what's wrong with American polit (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43234607)

" Experts on all sides of the issue seemd to agree that no clarification of the law would happen until a high-profile crime involving a 3-D printed weapon was committed."

Considering criminals have no regard for the law anyway, I fail to see how any law or "clarification" of any existing law will make any difference. Gun laws are punitive measures against law abiding citizens, period. Unless you have a plan to vaporize all guns and advanced weaponry in existence these laws will make no difference. I'm not comfortable with all weapons being in the hands of the government or "police". Criminals will still find the weapons they need under such a scenario for whatever crimes they are bent on, and you'll have the perfect recipe for a runaway tyrannical state.

I disagree that we are a laissez-faire society. In fact we are we are only 'free' because we still think we are, largely do to freedom of speech still being intact.

Re:Symptomatic of what's wrong with American polit (1)

nosubmit (2800659) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234635)

i agree with you for the most part.

do you think it would be good if we identified issues like the one in this post, and have "mock trials" to identify in advance what the societal position should be? to identify them we could have some kind of crowd commenting and voting system. we would have to pay for all this somehow, maybe with some tax payer funded process. maybe lower costs by using university students that are enrolled in top "phd in law" programs.

either way, i think it is hard to justify paying for things in advance with tax payer money because nobody wants to risk failure and the damage to their careers.

Re:Symptomatic of what's wrong with American polit (5, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234637)

With gun issues at the forefront of today's political discussion, how is this not a topic that needs immediate attention?

"Gun issues" are only at the front of any discussion because specific interest groups and politicians who pander to them are using a crazy person's already illegal acts to try to cement significant new reductions in liberty and increases in Nanny State invasiveness. Those broader goals are always at the top of that demographic's agenda, and they use whichever current events are handy in that mission. This is a topic [home made objects] that doesn't need immediate attention because it doesn't need ANY attention. It never did. It has nothing to do with what crazy, broken people do with objects they buy or make.

Re:Symptomatic of what's wrong with American polit (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43234913)

"Gun issues" are at the front of the discussion because people care about those issues, including yourself (hence this comment), and including the hugely well-funded pro-gun lobby you're an apologist for. To pretend they are non-issues when you are here commenting on them is the height of intellectual dishonesty.

This is a topic [home made objects] that doesn't need immediate attention because it doesn't need ANY attention.

The topic is not home-made objects, it is home-made gun components. More intellectual dishonesty *applause*.

Re:Symptomatic of what's wrong with American polit (1)

gubon13 (2695335) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234981)

I get your argument, but it's not just the actions of one crazy person that has prompted this discussion. Many would argue that gun violence has become more pervasive, and I'd have a hard time arguing against that statement. And before I continue, I realize that my comment came across as being "anti-gun," but that's not actually the case. My main gripe is with ineffective government.

As a parallel, here in America, we have a ridiculous war on drugs. The same argument has been made that criminals get their drugs regardless of the laws. I'm actually in favor of decriminalizing 99% of drugs and legalizing 5% of them for the tax revenue. You could end the illegal drug trade overnight. (Hyperbolically, of course.) If people have free access to drugs, they have the right to choose what harm they may or may not do to themselves. Obviously, individual gun use has a far greater potential for hurting others than individual drug use. We have to at least be realistic about that.

I disagree that this doesn't need attention, and here is why. I agree that criminals will always ignore laws and have access to whatever they want, but what about children? Consider a depressed 13 year old, surrounded by responsible adults, who has no access to a gun. Said 13 year old is highly unlikely to have the machinery or skill-set to homemake a gun. If this kid has access to a 3D printer, however, suddenly he/she has access to a deadly weapon - that can harm not just themselves, but others, too - with just $100 in Internet-sourced parts. 3D printers will become more prevalent in the near future. I'm not suggesting that the government try to restrict their sale or use. I'm simply acknowledging a potential problem and asking why they aren't considering what we can do to help prevent unnecessary tragedy down the road.

I'm not looking for new legislation, just better enforcement of existing legislation, with a possible amendment to recognize new technologies that could affect the access of weapons to children.

Re:Symptomatic of what's wrong with American polit (1)

WolfWalker545 (960367) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234717)

The current Federal laws on manufacture of firearms concentrate on commercial production, using an expansion of Federal powers over commerce that was started in the 1930's by claiming the power to "regulate commerce between the states" meant that if an action had ANY impact on interstate commerce, Congress could regulate it, even to the point of restricting how much wheat a farmer could grow for his own use because by growing it for his own use, because if he wasn't growing his own, he'd have to buy it from interstate commerce. Congress hasn't gone THAT far in regulating firearm manufacture, but they do require Federal licensing and tax payments for any firearm manufactured for sale or on behalf of someone else, and that any firearms someone makes for themselves must comply with the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Gun Control Act of 1968, except personally manufactured firearms are not required to have a serial number or manufacturer's identifying information. Trying to restrict the home manufacture of firearms would likely lead to a successful Supreme Court challenge based on the Second Amendment, much as many of the newly passed or proposed laws governing magazine capacity are likely to fail Supreme Court challenge.

Re:Symptomatic of what's wrong with American polit (2)

Cajun Hell (725246) | 1 year,29 days | (#43235127)

You're right that it's symptomatic of what's wrong with American politics, but I think you stated the case backwards.

The "modern issue" at stake is that people are worried that 3D printers might start getting regulated, with people-going-apeshit-with-guns used as the justification. Wanna make dollhouses? Get a printer license, so that you can enter your license id into the printer, so that it can call the Manufacturer Restrictions Management server to get permission to operate, as well as upload your dollhouse plan. Or your sex toy or farm implement or vaguely-legal-or-illegal gun or car part.

The stuff about a "high-profile crime" can be seen as a cynical comment that while generic manufacturing tech isn't currently under attack, it eventually will be, as part of a stupid over-reaction to what some fuckwit decides to do with the power -- the power which tech improvements are handing to everyone. As we all get more capable, we all get more scary. And politicians know that scared people will demand government do authoritarian things. Make people-who-aren't-me less scary, by making people-who-aren't-me less capable.

Yes, let's just file this issue away until the problem is too pervasive to control. Nobody take responsibility. Brilliant.

People aren't "filing it away" ; they're making a statement. The statement is: don't do it. Don't continue the recent few decades' pattern of using prior restraint to regulate what people are able to do, since prior restraint has been shown to always end up limiting both good and bad activities.

With political speech itself, as a society we seem to mostly "get" that it's necessary to hold back on prior restraint and instead hold people accountable for bad things that they may do, and persuade people to not do bad things. With all other forms of liberty, we seem to be taking a diametrically opposite approach, of capability-prevention rather than responsibility. It's as though everyone in America is an armchair military intelligence officer, looking at everyone else's capabilities rather than their intents.

I'm saying that's bad, proven by how it has led to a lot of stupid stuff (e.g. DMCA, CALEA), all of which is daily fodder for Slashdot. That ain't "filing away"; that's flaming. Ok, so flaming isn't as good as voting, but maybe some day, more people will vote. Let's aim for 5% in 2014!

The ineptitude of American politics and their reactionist mentality have slowly turned us into a de facto laissez-faire society.

Where the fuck in America are you seeing that? How is it laissez-faire for government to say people are not allowed to write a computer program which plays a movie or makes a secure phone call? How is it laissez-faire for government's presence to be looming over 3D printing tech? I wish I could agree with you that we're turning into a laissez-faire society but every news story points to the opposite.

Even when we hear about massive industrial fraud (e.g. the bank thing) framed as failures of deregulation, we always find that government's involvement in restricting entry into the market, is the very thing which caused the criminals to be in such a privileged position to begin with, unaccountable and unnaturally-overpowered thanks to our rejection of laissez-faire.

You'll shoot your eye out kid... (1)

bugs2squash (1132591) | 1 year,29 days | (#43235147)

Clarification of this law may not come soon. But there will be a lot of legal "clarification" going on when people run away with the idea that they can print a gun with the plastic from old yogurt pots, put a round in it and fire it. When the whole thing disintegrates and causes injury to anyone except the intended target.

Already legally settled (4, Interesting)

Foldarn (1152051) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234511)

It's already legally settled. You CAN manufacture your own firearms provided it does not run afoul of NFA. You do not need an FFL for this. You cannot transfer the firearm to another person, but it is 100% legal to make a firearm for yourself. Where does a semi-automatic weapon even come into play here? Subby is very uninformed on firearms laws. There are no questions as to whether an FFL allows someone to teach another how to manufacture firearms. All it does is allows you to buy and sell firearms as a business. Terrible article description.

Re:Already legally settled (1)

WillAdams (45638) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234903)

Actually, the letter of the law allows one to transfer, the problem is that one can't have built it with the intent to distribute, and there's no way to demonstrate that lack of intent to the satisfaction of the BATF.

So, one transferring a legal, personally manufactured firearm is guilty of a thought-crime.

In theory, one can pass on as many personally built firearms as desired as part of an estate and presumably the heirs may then sell them.

The easiest way to get around this is to build a firearm which is totally legal and unregulated in most states (e.g., a black-powder percussion revolver) and a secondary part which then allows said firearm to be converted to fire cartridge ammunition (e.g., a conversion cylinder) and then to sell / transfer the two parts separately. The recipient can then build a legal, cartridge-firing firearm from the two legal pieces.

Re:Already legally settled (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43234967)

Actually, you CAN transfer it to someone else... you just can't manufacture it for the purpose of transferring to someone else. It's a subtle distinction.

Re:Already legally settled (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43235075)

You are dancing around the interesting issue, which TFA and TFS MAY have been trying to explore--did DD need an FFL to post these plans (or sell them)? Does selling someone a 3D printer file constitute 'manufacturing a firearm' ? I would not consider the answer obviouse given existing gun laws. There are all kinds of 'constructive possession' laws now, there you can legall be 'in possession' of a machinegun by having a certain nexus of parts or having a single part of an actual machine gun. Is possession of a 3D printer 'constructive possession'? Is selling someone printer files, or giving them printer files, transferring or selling a firearm?

There is reality reality and then there is legal reality. Gun control laws rely heavily on the latter.

what they really mean.. (4, Insightful)

ClintJCL (264898) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234529)

"no clarification of the law would happen until a high-profile crime involving a 3-D printed weapon was committed"

Run through my personal translator:

"instead of deciding how things should be, objectively, we want to wait until there are a few corpses we can parade around to make an emotional appeal to garner support to further reduce the rights of the law-abiding. Hopefully these corpses will be children, because they appeal to people's genetically programmed emotional reactions."

Taking a page from video games (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43234563)

If you were a 3d printer manufacturer, would you like your company to be associated with a mass killing? Probably not. I can see 3d printer manufacturers implementeing DRM and an always-on internet connection; not to prevent illegal copies, but to prevent their copiers from making lethal components. You might see a noticable lag after you push the "PRINT" button as the design is scanned.

Various bits of FUD correction. (5, Informative)

nweaver (113078) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234731)

a: An FFL7 (which is what Defense Distributed got), once they complete some additional tax paperwork, allows them to make and sell semiautomatic rifles like any other manufacturer. And there are lots of small manufacturers these days. Heck, there is one in Napa, CA, if you want a fine, vintage 2013 AR-15 with "Made in Napa, CA" printed on the side.

b: Plastic AR lower receivers are old news. There is a lot of panic buying of AR rifle components thanks to Dianne Feinstein's salesmanship, but the plastic lowers are readily available.

You can even get a 5-pack for $400! [hendersondefense.com].

Distributed Defense's sales, if any, are going to be those wanting to support their R&D, as there is no way they can compete with the existing aluminum lowers, let alone existing plastic ones, on price or quality for a given price.

c: There are a lot of businesses which legally help you make your own gun. EG, you buy an 80% lower (a not completed lower receiver) which the ATF does not consider to be a gun [tacticalmachining.com] and then you finish it yourself by renting some milling machine time and doing it yourself. Until its finished by the purchaser, its a paperweight, not a gun.

d: Some guy has even managed to do a home-made polymer lower using molding techniques [calguns.net].

You can't prevent it, so don't waste our tax $ (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43234775)

People make guns using everyday tools just as they did hundreds of years ago. You cannot prevent it or stop it. What you COULD do instead is focus on allowing everyone to carry their weapon of choice. Whether it be a gun, banana or lightsaber it doesn't matter let us do our job at protecting each other. There's a lot more good guys than bad guys and when bad guys know every good guy is well protected they will most likely stand down. But, there is a flaw to this -- they are clever and will find OTHER ways to make a living. But we can't figure out a solution for that until they start doing it.

Accesory (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43234839)

Just make it possible to hold the group and people who published the designs responsible as accessories to murder when the inevitable mass murder takes place using their designs. As long as that's possible and made clear to them they should get the message and stop their efforts to make rapid people-killing easier.

What is this new Tobocco thing? (1)

roman_mir (125474) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234883)

What is this new Tobocco thing, I am interested to learn more?
Is it used in defense, by nonprofit organisations maybe? That seemd unlikely to me at first, but after reading TF summary, I am becoming more convinced that I need to learn about it.

Not news - Semi-autos are not special (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43234915)

This is non-news. The company has received an FFL07 that allows them to manufacture Title 1 firearms which includes lever, pump, bolt and semi-autos for commercial sale. Semi-automatic firearms are not special and do not require separate permission to build. In this, they are no different that any other AR-15 polymer lower manufacturer. Only the manufacturing is different. Sounds like they want to see their printed lowers to make money. More power to them.

If they want to build full-autos for government sale, then they need the SOT tax stamp to allow them to build Title 2 NFA firearms.

Private individuals who are otherwise not prohibited from possessing firearms are allows to do what an FFL07 can do to make firearms for their own use provided local, State and Federal law is obeyed. Look up "80 percent lower" for details. What varies here is solely the technology. It doesn't require a metal forger and a mill to machine the raw aluminum into a functioning lower. I can legally make any type of non-NFA firearm for my own use of an existing design or my own (provided I am very careful) as long as I have the skills to do so. The 3D printing technology simply lowers the manufacturing skill requirement. You still need to assemble the lower parts kit and add an upper to make a functional gun.

Nothing to do with guns... (1)

Akratist (1080775) | 1 year,29 days | (#43234933)

This has nada to do with making guns or whatever. It has everything to do with trying to retain a monopoly or control on production, not unlike VCRs were seen as a threat to the flow of information. A mass shooting will only be used as an excuse to restrict these, which has been the intent all along, just like regulating the internet was the real goal of "protecting the children" or whatever excuse was the cause of the day.

Just avoid the trolls (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43234963)

Defense Distributed are gun nuts who want to print gun parts that are illegal or have restricted availability, so people can make their own semi-automatic and fully-automatic weapons in violation of local and federal law. They feel this is a right, because these highly dangerous guns will be used for self defense. In reality this will put weapons in the hands of criminals.

Giving the gun nuts a voice is like giving the Tea Party a voice, or doomsday believers a voice. Slashdot shouldn't do it.

It's not going to matter (1)

DavidinAla (639952) | 1 year,29 days | (#43235149)

If the government says it's illegal to make this information available — which seems like a clear First Amendment violation — it won't matter, because nobody is going to be able to stop the plans from floating around for people to find. Governments are having trouble understanding that they can't control digital "things" as they could easily control physical goods.
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