D.C. aims to ban guns printed at home

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Local,DC,Eric P. Newcomer,Gun Control,Tommy Wells

A District councilman wants to ban guns created on 3-D printers.

The proposal comes after a self-proclaimed anarchist posted a YouTube video showing himself firing a handgun created using a 3-D printer. The video has attracted national media attention.

On Tuesday, Ward 6 Councilman Tommy Wells introduced a bill, titled the Undetectable Firearms Act of 2013, that would make it illegal to make a gun on a 3-D printer.

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"The end product is a cheap, functional and undetectable weapon that can be produced with nothing more than a home computer and 3-D printer," Wells said.

Cody Wilson -- the 25-year-old leader of Defense Distributed featured in the YouTube video -- said that a new law would not stop people from printing 3-D guns.

"It doesn't matter what the laws are," he said. "[People] can download a file and they can print it on their 3-D printer."

Printing devices can cost less than $10,000, and directions for making guns have been posted online.

The gun featured in the video is called the Liberator and is made almost entirely out of separate pieces of plastic, each created by the 3-D printer -- except for a metal firing pin.

Referring to the D.C. Council, Wilson said, "They are just strong-arm gangsters that think they can take things away from people."

Despite the attention Wilson's video has attracted, he said it is still cheaper and easier to make a gun using parts purchased at home-improvement stores than it is to use a 3-D printer.

Ladd Everitt, director of communications for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, said plastic guns are a rare exception when it comes to firearms: They're well regulated.

"Regulations concerning plastic guns are actually very strict in this country," Everitt said.

The Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988, signed into law by President Reagan, makes it illegal to manufacture, sell or possess firearms that cannot be detected by walk-through metal detectors.

Everitt said guns sold on the black market and guns sold in stores pose a greater threat to the American public than ones created using a 3-D printer.

"To become worthwhile to someone who wants to do serious harm: No. 1, 3-D printing is going to have to come quite a way and, No. 2, we'd have to significantly strengthen our gun laws," Everitt said.

In a statement announcing his proposed legislation, Wells said the law needs to keep up with new technology: "An undetectable firearm constructed on your computer may sound like science fiction, but unfortunately, it's already here and our laws have never contemplated this scenario. These weapons create a significant and immediate threat to public safety."

enewcomer@washingtonexaminer.com

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