ALBANY, New York — New York is tackling the 3D-printed gun community by trying to ban the 3D printing of firearms and prevent the sharing of computer-aided design (CAD) files.
New York State Senator Brad Hoylman is sponsoring the bill. The Democrat says he wants to “attack the manufacture” of 3D Printed firearms. It would not only make it a felony to print guns but also ban the intentional sharing of files, raising First Amendment concerns. Writings like the Anarchist Cookbook and the guide to build a Luty machine gun have been determined to be protected speech. Many believe that these files are also protected speech.
The law was proposed only a few days before Ghost Gunner, a project of Defense Distributed, launched its zero percent pistol. The zero percent pistol code allows the end user to mill out a Glock-style pistol on the Ghost Gunner 3S. The new product should hit the market soon. Defense Distributed produced the first 3D printed gun called the “Liberator” after the guns the Allies dropped over occupied France during World War II. Cody Wilson, the founder of Defense Distributed, took issue with the new law and compared it to a similar law in New Jersey.
“This proposed law is outrageously unconstitutional and a clear violation of Section 230 of the CDA [Communications Decency Act of 1996],” said Wilson. “The point of the law is to attack sites like Def CAD. We will see them in court, so good luck.”
Under current New York State law, gun owners can legally print firearms, but the maker must immediately register their firearm with the state. According to state officials, no one has ever registered a 3D-printed gun.
The New York City Police Department (NYPD) claims these homemade firearms show up at crime scenes. State officials call these firearms “ghost guns” and say that seizures of 3D-printed guns have increased by 75%.
“You can sit at your kitchen table and print out weapons of destruction,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said on Friday at the press conference announcing the bill.
This number can be misleading. Although the number of 3D-printed guns used in crimes has increased significantly, the original number was so small that any increase would raise the rate significantly. Since 2021 only 20 3D-printed guns have been recovered from crime scenes. By using percentages instead of numbers, these anti-gun politicians can make it seem that 3D-printed firearms are a bigger problem than they really are.
Stopping the proliferation of files is almost impossible. Most in the maker community are technically savvy and deeply understand how the internet works. Even if a site containing the files blocks all New York internet addresses (IP), gun owners could simply bypass the blocks using a virtual private network (VPN). Users could also easily download the files from the Dark Web using a TOR browser.
When this reporter asked Cody Wilson about the point of the Liberator shortly after the first test, he said it was to make gun control obsolete. The 3D printing of firearms did just that. No law will stop the sharing of files and the printing of firearms. New York is fighting a losing battle. Technology has rendered the power to ban guns pointless.
About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, or at www.crumpy.com.