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3-D printers can make custom action figures, fast prototypes, and even (some) replacement body parts. But a few do-it-yourselfers have used 3-D printers to create gun parts, raising troubling legal concerns.
On July 22nd a member of the AR15.com gun owners’ forum from Florida reported that he had successfully downloaded 3-D plans for the lower receiver of an AR-15 assault rifle and then printed them. The amateur gunsmith — known in the forum by handle “HaveBlue” — stated he was able to fit the part into the rifle and fire it without having it “blow up into a bazillion tiny plastic shards and maim me for life.”
What HaveBlue did — creating the lower receiver for an AR-15 with a 3-D printer — is not illegal in most states. The same part can easily be purchased online from a vast array of commercial websites. However, when one goes online and purchases a part for a gun, that transaction is usually monitored, tracked, and stored. That sort of oversight does not exist with 3-D printing. If HaveBlue wanted, he could have fabricated the components for the AR-15 that could have turned it into a fully automatic (and highly illegal) weapon. And no law enforcement agency would have known.
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