The satisfaction of a 3D gun build comes from the complete customization and freedom you have to create something that is unique and specific to your needs.
Sadly, the powers that be have slapped shackles on that complete sense of freedom with 3D-printed gun laws. So before you go getting all creative, let’s break down what those laws are and how they compare to the rest of the World.
Europe’s 3D Printed Gun Laws
Recently, on the 24th of May 2022, over 120 participants from over 20 countries gathered in The Hague of the Netherlands for the International Conference on 3D Printed Firearms.
Europe is not exactly known for its love of guns so you can imagine the gathering of academia, policymakers, law enforcement officials, ballistic experts, and forensic experts was going to produce some pretty restrictive laws.
One of the conclusions from the conference was a 3D printed firearms fact sheet that was intended to be distributed to policymakers worldwide.
No surprises here, without any government approval the production of 3D-printed firearms is illegal and the Firearms Act 1968 makes it officially banned since the updating of the Guide on Firearms Licensing Law.
German laws do not specifically mention 3D printing when it comes to the manufacturing or producing of firearms, rather it broadly states that the unlicensed manufacture of firearms regardless of method is strictly prohibited.
In short, 3D-printed firearms are illegal in France but interestingly they are not illegal directly under firearms legislation but rather under 3D-printing regulations.
The legislation on 3D printing was introduced as a means to protect copyright laws and intellectual property, not to directly prevent 3D gun printing.
Italy is the “most lenient” of the European countries when it comes to 3D-printed gun laws. They are subject to the same laws as gunsmithing. One only requires a license and those printed firearms need to meet certain legal stipulations.
Rest of the World’s 3D Printed Gun Laws
The Canadian government’s persistence in restricting citizens’ access to firearms has included 3D-printed firearms. Their laws state that “regardless of the manufacturing method, a business license is required to produce a firearm”. It is therefore illegal to 3D print a firearm without a license.
Not only is it illegal to be in possession and actually print a 3D firearm, but in January 2021 the Singaporean government introduced new legislation making it illegal to be in possession of a digital blueprint for a gun without a license.
South Africa is notorious for having stringent gun control measures and laws, yet one of the highest rates of gun crime in the world. Regardless, if you are caught with a 3D printed firearm or any homemade firing device, you could face up to 25 years in prison.
Australia’s anti-3D gun laws are relatively new and were only implemented on 18 May 2022.
The Firearms Amendment Act 2022 not only outlaws 3D-printed firearms but potentially printers too. Previously, the laws only related to the state of New South Wales, but the new amendment is effective country-wide.
United States 3D Printed Gun Laws
Laws that govern 3D Printed Guns, directly and indirectly, can be complex and diverse when it comes to the US. Each state has its own laws while the federal laws may say otherwise.
Also, private companies can make their own decisions such as the shipping carrier, FedEx, which recently banned shipping 3D printed, and 80% gun parts.
For example, there is the Undetectable Firearms Act which states that any firearm unable to be detected by a metal detector is illegal to manufacture. The act, therefore, does not directly prohibit 3D printed firearms as long as they include metal components.
States laws within California require any person wanting to manufacture their own firearm, regardless of how it is made, to first obtain a serial number for both 3D printed and Polymer 80 guns.
New Mexico, Virginia & New Jersey
These states prohibit and have criminalized the manufacture, sale, or possession of undetectable firearms, while also making it illegal to purchase parts that make up unserialized guns.
Again they are not outright banning 3D printed guns, one merely has to apply for a manufacturing license beforehand.
New York, Washington D.C & Philadelphia
New York and Washington D.C attempted to push through legislation that would apply a complete ban on 3D-printed guns, making them completely illegal to possess. Those measures were unsuccessful.
Philadelphia however, did manage to push through those laws and as of November 2013, the manufacturing and/or ownership of a 3D-printed gun is banned.
Currently, Texas allows a person to make and be in possession of a 3D-printed firearm as long as it is for personal use and was not manufactured with the intent to sell. It is not required to get a license or register a gun.
Montana declares that firearms manufactured and remain in the state, with a “Made In Montana” stamp on them are exempt from United States federal firearms regulations.
The law requires no registration, background checks, or dealer licensing, and one could presume this applies to 3D-printed guns.
Currently, 3D-printed guns are not illegal as long as the manufacturer applies for a serial number and registers the firearm.
However, from January 2023 onwards, the building of a firearm through 3D printing or the purchasing of parts will be illegal.
Know Your Laws
It seems when it comes to 3D-printed gun laws, the best way to go about staying on the right side of them is through common sense. For the most part, it seems to come down to traceability and licensing.
If you are genuinely looking to do a 3D build out of pure passion and interest, then the registering of a serial number should be seen as nothing more than ticking the correct box and enjoying your 3D gun without any worries.
Are the gun laws surrounding 3D printing overly restrictive or justified?
Should there be more attention and conferences such as the one held in Europe, where the focus is solely on the 3D printing of firearms?
Let us know your thoughts and some suggestions on regulations regarding 3D Printed Gun Laws in the comments down below.