A 43-year-old Texan man named Eric McGinnis was sentenced to eight years in prison yesterday for the possession of a partially 3D printed AR-15 rifle, the BBC reports — a sign that 3D printed guns could be moving from a hypothetical concern to a real one.
McGinnis was prohibited from owning firearms for two years after attacking his girlfriend in 2015. He was arrested in 2017 after local law enforcement heard shots near his home. Only the parts that allowed the rifle to fire were 3D printed according to the BBC.
“I didn’t buy a gun, I built the gun,” McGinnis admitted to a family member over a call from the jailhouse, as quoted by the BBC.
Sharing 3D Printed Gun Plans
In July, a U.S. federal judge granted a temporary nationwide injunction blocking gun-rights activist Cody Wilson from sharing 3D printed gun plans on the internet.
The same judge ruled in August that plans for 3D printed guns “cannot be uploaded to the internet, but they can be emailed, mailed, securely transmitted, or otherwise published within the United States,” according to a court document. In other words, blueprints can still very much be shared in many ways.
An Alarming Trend
3D printing guns could become a way to circumvent gun laws, since they have no serial numbers and don’t require a background check.
And it’s not just in the U.S. In July, Australian police seized a number of 3D printed handguns in Queensland.
“This is something you read about, but we have not seen around here before, so it’s rare for sure,” senior sergeant Edwards told local news.