Student test fire of ‘3D-printed’ handgun draw lawmakers’ ire

New York lawmakers say they’ll introduce measures to ban 3-D weapons.

After successfully firing a gun made with a 3-D printer over the weekend, a University of Texas law school student hopes to refine the prototype and ultimately distribute online files so anyone can make one.

Meanwhile, policymakers say the proliferation of 3-D guns could require new laws.

The test firing amid the national gun control debate was immediately called “stomach-churning” by one U.S. senator and has prompted nervous calls for legislation to ban such guns. The first prototypes were all plastic, but 25-year-old Cody Wilson says he has made modifications including adding 6 ounces of steel so metal detectors can spot it.

He also has obtained a manufacturing license from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Ultimately, Wilson wants to distribute downloadable files that can be plugged in to a 3-D printer.

“It’s about empowerment of the individual over political hierarchy,” he said. Wilson, who one year ago co-founded Defense Distributed, the online collective managing the Wiki Weapon Project, said the .380-caliber pistol “behaved exactly as we expected it would” during the test.

The Austin office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on Monday confirmed that Wilson has the required licenses to legally manufacture the gun and the ammunition for it. New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, said the technology means anyone “can open a gun factory in their garage” and announced that he and Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., are introducing legislation to ban 3-D printed guns.

Can these weapons be detected by metal detectors? Find out on Page 2.