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Pennsylvania senators to introduce bill regulating 3D printed guns

As of Wednesday, it will be legal to download instructions on how to make a plastic handgun with a 3-D printer. The instructions for the Liberator are being published on a website run by nonprofit Defense Distributed.

HARRISBURG — Two Democratic senators from Philadelphia and Allegheny County announced Wednesday they plan to introduce legislation to ensure Pennsylvania’s Uniform Firearms Act applies to 3D-printed guns.

Sen. Vincent Hughes (Philadelphia) and Sen. Wayne Fontana (Allegheny) said their proposed bill would amend the definition of a “firearm” in the Uniform Firearms Act to include guns made via 3D printing.

The legislation would also prohibit anyone from printing a 3D firearm unless they have a firearm manufacturing license from the federal government.

“These guns are working weapons that do not have a serial number, may be undetectable to school, airport and other security systems, and are created by a 3D printer — which would allow individuals to circumvent federal and state background checks and other gun sale regulations,” Hughes said in a press release. “Pennsylvania does not benefit from people have access to these kinds of weapons without any regulation. We can’t talk about keeping our schools and communities safe and then allow a company to creat a back door to obtain guns by skirting federal background checks and other common-sense laws and regulation. I applaud everyone who is working to address this issue and protect our commonwealth.”

Gov. Tom Wolf, Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Pennsylvania State Police successfully blocked access to 3D gun files made available by Defense Distributed,following an emergency hearing Sunday in federal court. At that time, more than 1,000 people across the U.S. had already downloaded 3D plans for AR-15 semiautomatic rifles, according to the attorney general’s office.

“To say this situation is troubling is an understatement. The door is being opened to having anyone, anywhere at any time to build a gun on demand with no background check or without going through a licensed gun dealer,” said Fontana. “Because 3D printed firearms cannot be traced back to their producer or owner, it will make it possible for these ‘ghost guns’ to get into the wrong hands without fear of consequence if used in a crime. This will make the job of law enforcement extremely difficult. And the fact that they are plastic means that conventional security methods will be essentially ineffective. As a civil society, we owe it to everyone to prevent this loophole from becoming practice.”

According to the lawsuit state officials filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, anyone can become a member of Defense Distributed for a nominal fee. Once signed up, members pick a username, password and supply an email. At no time do users provide proof of age, a valid gun license or a permit-to-carry number.

Eight other states and the District of Columbia sued to block access to 3D printed guns and a federal court judge in Seattle issued a temporary restraining order Tuesday preventing online publication of blueprints for the 3D guns.