California may outlaw 3-D printed guns

A California senator plans legislation to prohibit the use of the technology to make "untraceable and anonymously-produced guns"

Proposed legislation in California aims to ban guns made using 3-D printing, after an organization Defense Distributed fired a handgun made with the technology, and said it would distribute its drawings online.

California state Senator Leland Yee on Tuesday announced his plan to introduce legislation to prohibit the use of the technology used "to create such untraceable and anonymously-produced guns."

While impressed with 3-D printing technology and its possibilities, Yee said in a statement it must be ensured that the technology is not used for the wrong purpose with potentially deadly consequences. "I plan to introduce legislation that will ensure public safety and stop the manufacturing of guns that are invisible to metal detectors and that can be easily made without a background check."

Defense Distributed in Texas has been set up to produce and publish freely information related to the 3-D printing of firearms in promotion of the public interest, according to its website.

"This project might change the way we think about gun control and consumption. How do governments behave if they must one day operate on the assumption that any and every citizen has near instant access to a firearm through the Internet? Let's find out," it said about the potential impact of its project.

On Sunday, the project published a video of a 3-D printed handgun, called the "Liberator," being fired. The gun is said to be fully plastic except for its firing pin, according to reports.

But the project has run into criticism from people who are against the proliferation of guns, and recommend tighter gun control laws.

New York Congressman Steve Israel, for example, said he was renewing his call for the passage of his recently-introduced Undetectable Firearms Modernization Act that extends a ban on plastic firearms, including components like homemade, plastic high-capacity magazines and receivers. An existing ban on plastic firearms expires this year, and did not include the components. The gun printed by Defense Distributed has a small metal component which can be easily done away with it, making the gun undetectable by metal detectors, Israel said.

There are no restrictions or screening to prevent felons and criminals from downloading and printing anonymously the designs of the Liberator, Yee said.

"We must be proactive in seeking solutions to this new threat rather than wait for the inevitable tragedies this will make possible," he added.

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