Jul 25, 2016 | By Benedict

Governor of California Jerry Brown has passed a law requiring makers of 3D printed guns and other homemade firearms to apply for an official serial number from the Department of Justice, a process which requires a background check. The new law aims to close firearm loopholes exposed by 3D printing.

Image: Popular Mechanics

The fabrication and distribution of 3D printed firearms is, alongside 3D printed keys and security breaches, perhaps the most controversial area of additive manufacturing at present. Using digital blueprints, makers can easily print their own homemade, unlicensed, and often crude weaponry, leaving absolutely no trace of their existence. These weapons can then be distributed, sold, and used, all behind the backs of the necessary authorities. This dark side of 3D printing, which has provided cause for concern for governments all across the world, has even found its way into Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs 2 video game.

California, a state known for its liberal tendencies and political trendsetting, has just taken a huge step in the battle against 3D printed weaponry, passing a new law which requires 3D printed guns and other homemade firearms to be officially registered at the Department of Justice. The law, signed into legislation by Governor Jerry Brown last Friday, means owners of such devices must now pass a background check before being granted a serial number for their weapon. More importantly, a ban has been imposed on the sale or transfer of such homemade firearms, as the state attempts to clamp down on the distribution of 3D printed guns and "unfinished" lower receivers.

In addition to the registration and non-distribution laws, California has also introduced legislation which requires plastic firearms to have a piece of stainless steel embedded in them. This requirement will enable metal detectors to detect the presence of so-called “ghost guns,” plastic firearms which are currently untraceable with normal detection systems. However, critics of this law have speculated that such a measure will have little positive impact, since the most vital elements of a firearm, 3D printed or otherwise, are metal.

Image: PBS

AB857 by Assemblyman Jim Cooper of Elk Grove is one of seven new gun-control measures introduced earlier this month aimed at reducing gun crime in California. The laws will come into effect in 2018, by which time owners or creators of homemade firearms will need to apply for the serial number and permanently affix it to their weapon.

Gun rights lobbyists have been critical of the new legislation, with the president of the Firearms Policy Coalition giving it both barrels with the following statement: “Today’s action by Governor Brown shows how craven California’s despotic ruling class has become. The Legislature has abandoned the Constitution, representative government, and the People of California. I fully expect the People to respond in kind.”

The success or failure of California's new legal measures could determine how other US states decide to tackle the issues surrounding 3D printed weaponry, should they choose to address them at all.

Extract from AB857:

Existing law authorizes the Department of Justice to assign a distinguishing number or mark of identification to any firearm whenever the firearm lacks a manufacturer’s number or other mark of identification, or whenever the manufacturer’s number or other mark of identification or distinguishing number or mark assigned by the department has been destroyed or obliterated.

This bill would, commencing July 1, 2018, and subject to exceptions, require a person who manufactures or assembles a firearm to first apply to the department for a unique serial number or other identifying mark, as provided. The bill would, by January 1, 2019, and subject to exceptions, require any person who, as of July 1, 2018, owns a firearm that does not bear a serial number to likewise apply to the department for a unique serial number or other mark of identification. The bill would, except as provided, prohibit the sale or transfer of ownership of a firearm manufactured or assembled pursuant to these provisions. The bill would prohibit a person from aiding in the manufacture or assembly of a firearm by a person who is prohibited from possessing a firearm. The bill would make a violation of these provisions a misdemeanor. By creating a new crime, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Richard wrote at 8/2/2016 2:26:23 PM:

Do we follow the Constitution or state law that violates the Constitution? Those who wrote the Constitution considered any “law” that violates the Constitution is null and void, i.e. an illegal “law”, and not to be obeyed. Further, it’s the responsibility of the individual to know the Constitution in order to recognize those “laws” that violate the Constitution. So where does that leave these state “laws”? Does that not make it that a law-abiding citizen should break these state “laws”? Likewise with illegal federal “laws” and unConstitutional Supreme Court rulings? California already years ago was and still is illegally making a database of gun owners, so if the state is already breaking the law, why should its citizens follow the law?

Anon wrote at 7/26/2016 9:15:45 PM:

To follow up: FEDERAL law states that firearms/weapons shall contain a certain level of material detectable by current weapon detection methods. I.e. x-ray scanners, metal detectors. Fully 3D printed firearms/weapons are illegal at the Federal level already. The state of California is only proving they don't know how to read and need to go back to pre-school for nap time before someone puts them in the corner. The article presented quotes the markings section of the BATF regulation which is incorrect for 3D printed weapons. A self built weapon does not require does not require markings of any kind. Might want to do more research before you copy/paste articles.

Anon wrote at 7/26/2016 9:11:43 PM:

Oh look, California passing laws that override the Federal level yet again. What a circus this country is.

JohnLennon wrote at 7/26/2016 4:07:52 PM:

In addition to likely being unenforceable law designed to make people who pass laws feel good about themselves. It is in direct competition with existing law that governs homemade metal guns (which under ATF policies and US Law are already legal to make and use, just not sell or distribute, the whole 80 percent lower is part of this law) So by making material and method part of the law it creates unequal law (the 80 percent lower battle has been fought and won in favor of gun "makers") this violates equal protection under the law and may be nixed on that ground. It would be nice if legislatures spent any time considering the amazing waste of time and resources at a judiciary level to re-fight already decided cases. Ultimately California is in more danger from it's own fiscal policy than from any tyrannical impulse paranoia about guns.

RobinLeech wrote at 7/26/2016 12:36:47 AM:

Such infringements require an amendment to the Constitution first, to be valid. Otherwise they're usurping the highest laws, making it what's known a "rogue legislature". There is no "loophole" in the Constitution that allows them to infringe in this way. The right of the people to bear arms is not a "firearms loophole" unless you operate from the perspective of a tyrant that intends to confiscate guns like Hitler did from Jews. Organizations like "Jews For The Preservation Of Firearms Ownership" exist solely because this is dangerous for the people, and doesn't protect them or stop bad guys at all. Furthermore, what's to stop people from putting the same number on 100 guns? You may as well put up "Jihad Free Zone" signs everywhere like bad guys are going to go "I was going to kamikaze you, but now that I see it's illegal I'll go watch TV at home".

Spaceman wrote at 7/25/2016 11:47:57 PM:

Hhahahahahhaa goodluck with that

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