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At Least One Virginia Lawmaker Wants to Criminalize 3D-Printed Firearms

AP Photo / Eric Gay

The rise of 3D printing is creating a whole new world for manufacturing all kinds of items. But it’s also created new concerns about security at courthouses and airports.

Delegate Marcus Simon is a Democrat from Fairfax County. He says all that new 3D printing technology could be used to sneak guns through security lines at airports or courthouses. That’s why he wants to create new criminal penalties to manufacture, import, sell, transfer or possess undetectable firearms.  

“One of the things you can do with 3D printed guns is that you can manufacture them in different interlocking pieces so even when you disassemble it you can’t tell what it is through a visual inspection. So frankly it has more to do with how these things become undetectable.”

Gun advocates see a problem here.

“How does somebody know if they have a gun that’s detectable by security?”

That’s Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League.

“They’re not going to let you go to the airport and put your gun through one of their machines and look at it to see what happens. They’re not going to let you do that. You’d have no way of knowing if something was detectable or undetectable because that equipment is not available to the general public for any kind of testing.”

Simon says lawmakers need to take action before it’s too late to stop a tragedy. Van Cleave says this bill is a solution in search of a problem.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.
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