Philly Becomes First City to Ban 3-D Gun Printing

Not that there are any 3-D printers in Philadelphia. That we know of.

Today, the Philadelphia City Council voted unanimously to ban the manufacturing of guns by 3-D printers, making Philly the first city to do so. 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.” We would hereby like to claim credit for this legislation by pointing to Nick Vadala’s comprehensive May 10th piece on guns made by 3-D printers. It reads, in part:

People have been manufacturing their own guns for hundreds of years, and we’re not exactly at the point where a 3-D printed gun can replace a standard zip gun as a down-and-dirty, DIY instrument of crime. Think of it like this: Youraverage 3-D printer costs anywhere from $1,500 to $8,000 and up, plus the cost of printing materials. Your average handgun could go for as little as $300 or less, even on the black market. A zip gun is either free or nearly so, and anyone with any mechanical ability can make one. Bombs, like the ones used recently in Boston, are frequently entirely homemade and constructed of legal materials. So, really, a 3-D printed piece isn’t exactly a better option to do wrong right now.

OK, maybe Johnson’s office didn’t base their legislation on Nick’s post, considering his entire point was that 3-D gun regulation was just a bunch of political grandstanding. But as Nick also points out, we’re a tech-savvy city, and it’s not inconceivable that some bored, semi-employed entrepreneur in Kensington that doesn’t follow City Council hearings tries to make one of these himself.


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  • Have Blue

    NextFab alone has eight 3D printers in Philadelphia, and I’m sure there are many more. This law not only criminalizes 3D printing a gun, but any gun part. It also defines ’3D printer’ to be so broad that it covers all CNC machines. So if you’re a competition shooter who was thinking of 3D printing a new set of grips for your favorite target pistol, you’re out of luck. Any gunsmiths in Philadelphia with a CNC machine won’t be able to make parts with that equipment anymore unless they have a full type 07 FFL.

  • TheNate

    Yeah, my school has a 3-d printer. They’re not that uncommon anymore.

  • .38 Special

    I recently 3-D printed a Christmas Tree ornament that happens to closely resemble, in form and function, a device that could in theory perform the task of driving a firing pin into the charge point of a .38 caliber shell, thus accelerating a bullet out of the barrel of the Christmas Tree ornament.

    But it’s not a gun.

  • Ed Reagan

    Too bad the City of Philadelphia has no authority to pass such a law. Only the State legislature can do that.

    § 6120. Limitation on the regulation of firearms and ammunition.

    (a) General rule.–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.

    (a.1) No right of action.–

    (1) No political subdivision may bring or maintain an action at law or in equity against any firearms or ammunition manufacturer, trade association or dealer for damages, abatement, injunctive relief or any other relief or remedy resulting from or relating to either the lawful design or manufacture of firearms or ammunition or the lawful marketing or sale of firearms or ammunition to the public.

    (2) Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prohibit a political subdivision from bringing or maintaining an action against a firearms or ammunition manufacturer or dealer for breach of contract or warranty as to firearms or ammunition purchased by the political subdivision.

    (b) Definitions.–As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection:

    “Dealer.” The term shall include any person engaged in the business of selling at wholesale or retail a firearm or ammunition.

    “Firearms.” This term shall have the meaning given to it in section 5515 (relating to prohibiting of paramilitary training) but shall not include air rifles as that term is defined in section 6304 (relating to sale and use of air rifles).

    “Political subdivision.” The term shall include any home rule charter municipality, county, city, borough, incorporated town, township or school district.

    18c6120v

    (Oct. 18, 1974, P.L.768, No.260, eff. imd.; Dec. 19, 1988, P.L.1275, No.158, eff. 180 days; Oct. 4, 1994, P.L.571, No.84, eff. 60 days; Dec. 15, 1999, P.L.915, No.59, eff. imd.)

    http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/LI/consCheck.cfm?txtType=HTM&ttl=18&div=0&chpt=61&sctn=20&subsctn=0

    • BryanS

      Clearly they see no irony in how a criminal will do what they please in the face of existing law.

      • phatmhat

        oh it being illegal will totally stop them from making a gun and using it… :D

        i don’t mind anyone making a law. but thinking they’ve made things so much safer and wanting recognition and votes for it? dumb.

        • BryanS

          So are the voters that put them there. But it is illegal under current law for Philly to do this. But that does not stop them.

    • Sigivald

      I don’t see “manufacture” or “production” in section (a), so I don’t see any obvious conflict between the two.

      It’s a stupid, grandstanding bill that will have absolutely no effect on criminal abuse of weapons … but the preemption law doesn’t seem to ban them from doing it.

      • HSR47

        “No political subdivision may bring or maintain an action at law or in equity against any firearms…manufacturer…for…[anything]…resulting from or relating to either the lawful design or manufacture of firearms…”

        What Philadelphia did here is plainly illegal.

        • AR

          “No political subdivision may bring or maintain an action at law or in equity against any firearms or ammunition manufacturer, trade association or dealer for damages, abatement, injunctive relief or any other relief or remedy resulting from or relating to either the lawful design or manufacture of firearms or ammunition or the lawful marketing or sale of firearms or ammunition to the public.”
          This means the city of philadelphia cannot file suit for a cash reward for damages against an arms manufacture based within city limits. This puts no restrictions on a city’s ability to ban said manufacturer.

          • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

            An action at law or in equity isn’t quite the same as a lawsuit. I someone prints a 3D gun in Philadelphia, how will the enforce their ban but with an action in front of the court? Any of their actions they do will simply be reversed by the judiciary.

  • Mark H

    The manufacture of firearms is already controlled and under the regulation of the ATF. An individual can manufacture a firearm (as defined by the ATF) for personal use, and not for resale without license, but must register the completed firearm with the ATF. Firearms manufacturers must first obtain a Federal Firearms License for manufacturers, and then comply with all state and local regulations for a manufacturer.

    In effect, this legislation has simply prevented licensed manufacturers from using this equipment/process in a legal way. Criminals will still do what criminals do – which is flout the law.

    • HSR47

      The big draw of home-building firearms is that such firearms don’t need to have any kind of identifying markings on them (read: no serial).

      In order to legally sell a firearm, it federal regulations require it to be marked with the name of the manufacturer, the location of the manufacturer, and a serial number (if it’s imported, it needs the name and location of the importer as well).

      Therefore, as long as a home-built firearm is properly marked, and it was originally manufactured for personal use, it is legal to sell it down the line.

      For example, if I were to assemble some kind of AK-pattern firearm from a receiver flat and a parts kit, and some time later I found a good deal on a higher-end rifle, I could legally sell off the one I built (at least provided that I marked it properly).

  • John F

    Today, the Philadelphia City Council voted unanimously to lose a court case at an unspecified date in the near future.

  • bob

    Someone needs to tell the City of Philadelphia that guns are legal, and it’s not necessary to print them in order to shoot people.

  • COBRACHOPPERGIRL

    Today, the Citizens of Philadelphia voted unanimously to ban the passing of rules by groups of people behind closed doors, and then lording such laws and rules over everyone else in perpetuity even long after said smoke filled room denziens are long dead.

  • John

    This will be struck down in 5…4…3…

    “TITLE 18
    PA CRIMES CODES

    §6120. Limitation on the Regulation of Firearms and Ammunition.

    (a) General rule. 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.”

    State law preempts ALL local ordinances. Period.

  • Bryce

    I just read that Philadelphia City Council has passed a law banning the manufacturing of guns by 3-d printers in Philadelphia. Although, I am not sure of author Kenyatta Johnson’s reasoning behind the bill, I am pretty confident Eli Whitney introduced significantly more effective ways of producing guns in 1801 through tightening tolerances and designing for interchangeability. So although I don’t think we need any help increasing crime and murder rates here in Philadelphia I feel like this is a blatant disregard of the need of the constituents and piss poor use of limited time and resources.

    So, while our crack team of Luddites in city council have been drafting this bill I wonder how many crimes could have been prevented by focusing on the Philadelphia Schools. Perhaps teaching and talking about how advances in 3d printing will more likely be used in healing bullet wounds than it will making them is a better use of our time. It could be a Philadelphian who creates a break through in 3d printed pharmaceuticals, tissue growth or health monitoring and we are just the city to make it happen. Surely there will be missteps along the way, but we must recognize that preemptive legislation is not effective for growing technologies or shaping their usage.

    BryceBeamer.com

  • robert gould

    Isn’t the city breaking state law?

    § 6120. Limitation on the regulation of firearms and ammunition.

    (a) General rule.–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.

    (a.1) No right of action.–

    (1) No political subdivision may bring or maintain an action at law or in equity against any firearms or ammunition manufacturer, trade association or dealer for damages, abatement, injunctive relief or any other relief or remedy resulting from or
    relating to either the lawful design or manufacture of firearms or ammunition or the lawful marketing or sale of firearms or ammunition to the public.

    (2) Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prohibit a political subdivision from bringing or maintaining an action against a firearms or ammunition manufacturer or dealer for breach of contract or warranty as to firearms or ammunition purchased by the political subdivision.

    (b) Definitions.–As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection:

    “Dealer.” The term shall include any person engaged in the business of selling at wholesale or retail a firearm or ammunition.

    “Firearms.” This term shall have the meaning given to it in section 5515 (relating to prohibiting of paramilitary training) but shall not include air rifles as that term is defined in section 6304 (relating to sale and use of air rifles).

    “Political subdivision.” The term shall include any home rule charter municipality, county, city, borough, incorporated town, township or school district.

    (Oct. 18, 1974, P.L.768, No.260, eff. imd.; Dec. 19, 1988, P.L.1275,
    No.158, eff. 180 days; Oct. 4, 1994, P.L.571, No.84, eff. 60 days; Dec.
    15, 1999, P.L.915, No.59, eff. imd.)

  • FiftycalTX

    Are they going to authorize warrantless searches so the cops can break into any place that “might” have the 3-d hellmachine?

  • Ron

    Several people here have claimed that the city council is violating state law. The city council is filled with morons, but this law is valid under the state constitution. I don’t think that the law was intended to prevent licensed dealers from making and selling 3D printed firearms, but it does make it illegal for anyone else to make such weapons. IOW, if you go to your local gun dealer, he can make and sell you a 3D printed gun (regardless of what the city council says), but you can’t go to your local school and print one up for yourself. The state law prevents local governments from regulating licensed dealers (which are regulated by the state), not any other vendor or private party.

    • marcthepig

      Any law related to firearms in PA fall under preemption. Preemption means that state, not the city or any other local jurisdiction, make the laws related to firearms.

  • Thucydides_of_Athens

    You don’t need a 3D printer to make a gun; kids have made “Zip guns” forever, and gunsmiths in Pakistan can hand build virtually any weapon (including machine guns and AK-47′s) with relatively simple machine tools, meaning firearms are available even without sophisticated equipment.

    Of course the US government is also willing to “walk” guns to criminal organizations, so the vast majority of criminals have much quicker and easier ways to access firearms than waiting for them to be made.

  • Geek WithA.45

    This won’t last long. Pennsylvania has state pre-emption regarding firearms, and the state courts have a pre-printed form that smacks down Philadelphia’s seasonal attempts to over ride state law.

  • sounder

    Why not just 3D print a grenade and pull the pin? These 3D guns are just as dangerous to the user.

  • ramonzarat

    Let’s ban 3D printed guns with their blue prints available on the Internet and potentially 3D printed by anyone, anywhere on the planet…

    We now live in a world where traditional limitations doesn’t exist anymore and can’t possibly be regulated. It’s like passing a law making every pebbles and rocks illegal because you can smash someone’s skulls with it. It’s impossible.

  • http://countenance.wordpress.com/ Question Diversity

    Philadelphia (Killadelphia) is as bad as any for mahogany mobs, Knockout Martin Luther King (“knockout game”), and sundry other types of anti-white gang wildings on the part of the local denizens of Bell Curve City, Africanus Bellcurvius.

    And what is its city council obsessed with?

    Someone in Texas who 3-D printed a temporarily functional handgun.

  • magnetik

    so instead of going after the rampant “knock out game” problem in Philly.. they go after techies with 3D printers. Yeah good use of tax payer resources.