D.C. Council moves to ban 3D weapons

After a Texas company reportedly test-fired a gun made with a computer and a printer, D.C. Council member Tommy Wells introduced legislation Tuesday to ban similar weapons in the District.

Wells, chairman of the council’s Public Safety Committee, said he plans to move swiftly to implement the ban. A majority of council members signed on as co-sponsors of the bill.

“These weapons create a significant and immediate threat to public safety,” Wells said.

So-called 3D weapons are made of plastic. The weapons can reportedly be researched on the Internet and then assembled from parts constructed with highly specialized printers.

A Texas-based company, Defense Distributed, released a video Sunday claiming to show the first test-fire of a 3D weapon at a gun range near Austin on Saturday.

According to the BBC, the gun was made using a printer that was bought for about $8,000 on E-bay. The owner of the company suggested the homemade weapon could be used to get around strict gun control laws in places such as the District.

“There are states all over the world that say you can’t own firearms — and that’s not true anymore,” Cody Wilson, a self-described anarchist, told the BBC.

“I’m seeing a world where technology says you can pretty much be able to have whatever you want. It’s not up to the political players any more.”

Wells said protecting the District gun control laws, which ban ownership of unregistered handguns, motivated him to sponsor his bill.

“An undetectable firearm constructed on your computer may sound like science fiction, but unfortunately, its already here and our laws have never contemplated this scenario,” Wells said.

In February, the Washington Post profiled a Glen Burnie man who is printing the parts needed to build a homemade handgun. But the 30-year-old software engineer had not yet test-fired a weapon.

Over the weekend, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he would push for a federal ban on the weapons.

Under federal law, undetectable plastic weapons are already banned. But, at least so far, so-called 3D weapons have still needed some metal parts to fire.

Tim Craig is The Post’s bureau chief in Pakistan. He has also covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and within the District of Columbia government.
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