Want a 3D printer? Get a background check.

Outlaw Printers

Imagine a future in which if you want to buy a 3D printer, you have to submit yourself to a criminal background check. That sounds weirdly dystopian, but a bill just proposed in the New York State Assembly would actually require this drastic step.

The bill, A8132, would require sellers to perform a background check on buyers purchasing 3D printers "capable of making firearms or their components" — another sign that government officials are getting increasingly heated over "ghost guns," which are homemade weapons with no serial numbers and hence are untraceable by law enforcement.

You can make a ghost gun by buying kits or parts online without a background check. Or you can make them on 3D printers or CNC machines.

"Three-dimensional printed guns are growing more prevalent each year," wrote NY Assembly member and bill sponsor Jenifer Rajkumar in a memo. "There were 100 taken off the streets of New York City in 2019. That number skyrocketed to 637 in 2022."

Smoky Future

Rajkumar isn't the only lawmaker looking to crack down on ghost guns. Earlier this year, New York Senator Kristen Gillibrand proposed a bill that would ban the online distribution of files for producing firearms on 3D printers nationwide.

The future is murky for 3D-printed ghost guns as more states crack down on them, but there is no federal law that outright bans them, though there are certain regulations on these weapons that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives enforces.

Still, the prospects of the 3D printer background bill and Gillibrand's blueprint bill are also doubtful. Firearms made on 3D printers touch not just the Constitution's 2nd Amendment but the 1st Amendment as well. Back in 2018, the State Department allowed the online distribution of 3D printer gun designs after Cody Wilson, a 3D printed gun pioneer, sued the government on 1st Amendment grounds.

Regardless of these proposed bills, 3D printed guns have left Pandora's Box. Besides criminals, revolutionaries have taken up 3D printed guns to fight dictatorships. And there are many enthusiastic online communities of 3D printer gunmakers who will readily show off their DIY Glock or even a Glong — a Glock and bong combo.

That's something that should trigger any ATF agent.

More on ghost guns: Watch Lunatics Fire 3D Printed Assault Rifles and Handguns

Share This Article