Philadelphia Bans 3D Gun Printing

It is now illegal to hit “Print …” in Philadelphia, if the thing you loaded was a design for a firearm.

Which is interesting, because the author of the bill, Kenyatta Johnson, isn’t aware of of any local gun-printing 3-D printers. ”It’s all pre-emptive,” says Johnson’s director of legislation Steve Cobb. “It’s just based upon internet stuff out there.”

It’s not “preemptive,” it’s just stupid. It’s up there in terms of ignorance with burning witches. It’s not going to preempt anybody, because no one is going to be dissuaded from hitting “Print …” if they are seriously intending to cause harm. It is also quite arguably, and ironically, given Johnson’s quote, preempted by state law banning cities and local communities from regulating firearms.

It is not unusual for people who don’t understand new technology to be frightened by it. That goes double if you’re a politician. The same primitive fears of the unknown were responsible for all manner of laws when the automobile first appeared, or really any new technology first appeared on the scene. Life among the barbarians, I suppose.

13 thoughts on “Philadelphia Bans 3D Gun Printing”

  1. Why would anyone waste their time “printing” a gun with an expensive 3-D printer? As Michael Bane has pointed out on his podcast, the technology for making full auto weapons has been around since the Civil War. They are just a metal tube with a pointy thing. Anyone with access to a machine shop or even rudimentary tools can make full auto machine guns any time they want — as seen fairly regularly in the Palestinian areas, in Syria, in Lebanon, in Chechnya, etc. The only thing that prevented machine guns from being made during the Civil War was that they had yet to invent box magazines and they had not refined mass production of metallic cartridges. Those things were invented more than 100 years ago and therefore so were machine guns. Nowadays, the home machine gun maker selects the caliber and the box magazine style first (AK, AR, Glock, whatever) and then makes the gun to work with that magazine style. When you can do THAT, why would you waste your time making 3-D printed guns? It has also been pointed out by others that the only reason that people in this country do not widely make their own machine guns is because there is a legal, and still relatively free and easy process to actually buy and keep (and, bear) professionally factory-made firearms. If they become illegal or inaccessible, anyone and nearly everyone will switch from revolvers, semi-auto’s, bolt rifles, etc to home made full auto. I do not condone nor promote violation of the law, but I am a student of human nature.

  2. Can you imagine the heads exploding if these idiots realized how easy it is to make a gun with supplies and tools available at walmart?

    1. Or that this ban doesn’t tough that type of MFG.

      So… does this law ban FFL’s from using this tech if they’re on Philly?

      1. If you’re a gunsmith with only an FFL 01, you can’t even use a CNC mill to make metal firearm parts in Philadelphia now.

      2. “No person shall use a three-dimensional printer to create any firearm, or any piece or part thereof, unless such person possesses a license to manufacture firearms under Federal law, 18 U.S.C. § 923(a). “, from the text of the bill.

        18 USC 923(a) is a blanket prohibition of being in the business of making arms without a Federal license, so my reading is that anyone the Feds are okay with you making and selling guns [as opposed to non-commercial personal production] this bill doesn’t apply to you.

        I do find the prohibition on “any piece or part” interesting, along with their definition of 3D printer (such that it looks like it would include a CNC mill) … I guess it’ll be illegal to make a grip in Philly, or any other “part for a gun”, however that’s interpreted, if you use a computer model to do it…

        This will obviously Stop Crime, because shut up.

  3. (3) For violations that are designated in this Code as “Class III” offenses, the maximum fine shall be as follows:
    (e) for any violation committed on January 1, 2009 or thereafter, two thousand (2,000) dollars for each violation.

    Oh, please. Clearly they’re not worried about criminals, since the penalty is a $2000 fine. Criminals aren’t concerned about jail time, much less ever having to pay their court costs. As usual, they’re after law abiding gun owners – in this case, geeks with 3-D printers. Can they make it any more obvious? And besides, why would a criminal go through all the trouble to print a crappy plastic gun (although their wording also prohibits CNCs and such) when they could just buy one from one of their criminal friends who the Philly courts couldn’t be bothered to keep locked up.

    What a joke. The good news is, it’s unlikely any of those geeks would be afraid to print or mill a gun because of some silly feel-good code. Hell, maybe some will volunteer to be fined so Philly can pay for their next [ooh, scary] AR when they lose the preemption lawsuit.

  4. The group of people responsible for the VAST majority of shooting deaths (ghetto hood rats) are not smart enough to use a xerox machine, let alone a 3D printer.

  5. addendum: Apparently it’s not yet illegal, as it still has to go to the mayor (but I wouldn’t hold my breath on him having a clue).

  6. Hey HB!

    We need to get that preemption strengthening through. i have a bad feeling that if we switch to the other side of the political coin in the gov race, we will see lots of municipalities making their own law, knowing they have support of the AG and the GOV, and will have nothing to worry about from the State police.


    1. Azzy! I don’t know what preemption strengthening you guys have on the table in PA, but the existing preemption there (from my very brief reading of it) doesn’t seem to cover any hobbyist gunsmithing activities – the preemption law seems to assume that firearms only come from FFLs.

  7. Easiest googled* source grabbed says:

    Title 18 Pa.C.S., Section 6120 of Pennsylvania law specifically states that “No county, municipality or township may in any manner regulate the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms, ammunition or ammunition components when carried or transported for purposes not prohibited by the laws of this Commonwealth.”

    We’ve been working to get it strengthened, add fines and personal legal ramifications to those voting and enacting area gun laws. There has been a call for the removal of Philly’s first class city exemption, as they use it to deny lots of good people their right to bear arms.


    1. Note the lack of the word “manufacture” or “production” in that list, though.

      They probably can regulate manufacture of firearms without violating preemption.

      It’s a stupid, posturing waste of time, but it doesn’t seem to be illegal.

Comments are closed.