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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.
Most American schoolchildren learn the “Stop, drop and roll” fire safety drill, but now experts are proposing a “Run, hide and wait” education program for gunfire safety.
“Running away can often give kids a much better chance of survival,” Chuck Habermehl, founder of Close Quarters Battle in Florida, told The Daily. “Right now the mentality is just to go into lockdown. Sometimes it’s safer just to get the heck out of there.”
Habermehl has given lectures to school administrators on dealing with an active shooter situation, such as the one this week in Ohio, and most notoriously at Columbine High School in 1999. But he’s found schools are extremely resistant to providing this type of alarming education to students.
“It’s like rape prevention,” he said. “Schools just don’t want to take on the subject.”