Dems Still Don’t Understand 3D Printing, Homemade Guns

Senator Schumer is no fan of Cody Wilson's handiwork (courtesy

The “Undetectable Firearms Act” expires at the end of this year, and Democrats are aflutter over the idea that scary plastic guns could soon be making their way onto the market. As proof that the law is urgently needed, they keep holding up Cody Wilson’s 3D printed Liberator handgun to illustrate the frightening future that they hope to legislate away. But the more they use that example, the more it becomes obvious that they have no idea how to handle the home-built firearms revolution and it’s scaring the ever-living crap out of them . . .

The Undetectable Firearms Act requires that any firearm manufactured in the United States contains a certain amount of metal. The idea is to enable it to be detected by x-ray scanning machines and metal detectors. The law was easy to enforce when heavy machinery and specialized skills were required to manufacture a heater, since the ATF could keep an eye on the designs of guns being manufactured and make sure that everyone was in compliance. But these days anyone with a 3D printer can design and build their own gun in the comfort of their own home without anyone knowing about it. In other words, without having a cop or agent of the federal government looking over their shoulder. Which makes the law is useless.

From The Guardian:

Schumer said the technology of so-called 3D printing has advanced to the point where anyone with $1,000 and an internet connection can access the plastic parts that can be fitted into a gun. Those firearms cannot be detected by metal detectors or x-ray machines. Schumer says that means anyone can download a gun cheaply, then take the weapons anywhere, including high-security areas.

The Democrat is pushing the extension along with Senators Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Bill Nelson of Florida. The effort was announced on Sunday.

Chuckie Schumer truly believes that by creating new laws, he can stop the manufacture of 3D printed firearms. It’s the same logic I run into time and again hoplophobes. Namely, they truly believe that by adding one more law — another piece of paper — onto the existing pile of legislation, suddenly all crime in the United States will stop. That criminals will finally, magically comply. It’s a belief that everyone plays by the rules and follows the law to the letter. It shows a stunning naiveté and lack of understanding of the current state of the art of technology, and a resistance to the new reality in manufacturing. Let alone a failure to comprehend that criminals tend to break the law.

Just because something is illegal doesn’t mean people won’t do it. The failed war on drugs is a brilliant, shining example. Cocaine and marijuana and crystal meth are very much illegal but millions of Americans still use the substances every day. By Schumer’s gun-related logic, passing one more law tomorrow further outlawing these substances should be all we need to finally solve the problem. But as we all know, it won’t.

The senior senator from New York and the rest of the congressional disarmament caucus have done everything in their power to demonize, marginalize and dismiss the existence of Cody’s creation for the simple fact that it makes all of their efforts useless. A 3D printable firearm circumvents almost every law and bureaucratic roadblock that’s been set in place to prevent the “wrong people” from owning guns. It also means that the ruling class has officially lost what little control over the firearms in this country they had. And that lack of control is what freaks them out the most, hence this last desperate move to enact another law. Whether it works or not.


  1. avatar Kirk says:

    And isn’t it ironic that America’s most famous locales for 2D hoplophobia happens to coincide with mass murderers getting away with it?

    As to data and 3D printing: Chuckie really doesn’t quite get this internet thingee. Suddenly, a sitting U.S. Senator is foursquare behind book burning.

    As the Germans noted on a plaque at one infamous Nazi book burning, “Where books are burned, burning people will soon follow.”

    Gad. Unaware of how unaware he is.

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      When you sell Schumer short, you’re selling yourself short. Chuckie knows exactly what he’s doing. All the time.

      1. avatar Jus Bill says:

        But only within Chuckie World.

  2. avatar Crazed Java says:

    I’m anxiously awaiting the follow-up article by TTAG Contributor Jim Barrett telling firearm owners that we shouldn’t be printing guns. For the children.

  3. avatar Geoff says:

    It’s the Catholic church and Guttenburg all over again….

    1. avatar Kirk says:

      You just said a cotton-pickin’ mouthful.

      1. avatar Geoff says:

        And I didn’t even have to mix metaphors.

    2. avatar Ergadia says:

      Bad comparison as the Gutenberg Bible was a Catholic edition and the Catholic Church never tried to prevent its printing.

      1. avatar Tom says:

        Tyndale and the Catholic church then? That one certainly fits.

        1. avatar Ergadia says:

          I don’t want ti hijack a thread for an a comparison. But I think it is different as the Church never cared about who had Bibles as long as they were accurate translations. Tyndale was condemned because his New Testament supposedly contained errors not because it was the New Testament. For the comparison to be valid the 3d printing law would have to about the quality of the printed guns.

  4. avatar Lars says:

    If the government can’t control it they will ban it, nothing new. I predict they will succeed to some degree when referring to the 3d tech and firearms. Same goes for their fear of trackingpoint type systems. I don’t agree with any form of gun control but we all know which political direction our country is headed in and to deny this fact is to be ignorant of reality.

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      but we all know which political direction our country is headed

      I think it’s exactly opposite the direction that you think we’re headed.

      1. avatar William Burke says:

        Me too. HUGE mistake to assume you’re losing, when you are actually winning.

        1. avatar Ralph says:

          People see some losses in this culture war and they think that we’re losing. But if their field of vision gets a bit wider, they see that we’re winning, and it isn’t even close.

          But even though we’re winning, we shouldn’t relax, even for a second. Democrats are like termites. They keep trying to eat away at the Constitution.

    2. avatar gloomhound says:

      You can’t stop the signal,

      1. avatar Avid Reader says:

        What’s the frequency, Kenneth?

        1. avatar DonS says:

          I think that was a Firefly reference, not an R.E.M. reference.

        2. avatar William Burke says:

          The REM song refers to an actual event, wherein some guy came up to Dan Rather and asked him that question.

        3. avatar Avid Reader says:

          True, Don-but the REM still works as the protagonist is trying to understand something new, and it becomes apparent that he doesn’t.

          Just enjoying mixing pop culture references-roll with me!

        4. avatar Ralph says:

          “What’s the frequency, Kenneth?” is actually a Dan Rather reference. He was beaten up in 1986 and claimed that his assailants kept saying it over and over.

        5. avatar DonS says:

          “The REM song refers to an actual event”

          Wait… are you suggesting that Firefly doesn’t refer to actual events?

        6. avatar William Burke says:

          I don’t know from Firefly.

        7. avatar Avid Reader says:

          I recall that incident. It was sometime before “Fake but accurate.”

          Do I recall correctly, Ralph?

  5. avatar Hasdrubal says:

    I’m really feeling the lack of materials science classes here, but would it be practical to make a better barrel for a printed gun by wrapping a printed core with kevlar/high temp epoxy?

    I don’t know how much erosion the printed barrel suffers before it just cracks, maybe there are plastics which would be harder to resist that while being more prone to cracking if not reinforced?

    Not thinking specifically for this design, but generally for the next generation of designs.

    1. avatar TheThingThatGoesUp says:

      There are also few restrictions on gun parts besides the receiver with the serial number. So someone could just put a steel barrel on a 3D-printed gun.

      1. avatar Braenen says:

        The identification restrictions only apply to those guns which will be sold. You can manucature weapons (those which do not fall under the NFA act) at home in as large quantities as you would like as long as you do not distribute them.

        DISCLAIMER: I am not an attourney and this is not offered as legal advice. Some assembly required, return postage needed, some restrictions apply, your mileage may vary.

      2. avatar Cliff H says:

        This was my original conclusion. Unless you are making the pistol specifically to defeat metal detectors and x-rays there is no reason not to bore out the barrel a little larger and slip in a metal sleeve. It seems to me that is the major component subject to failure. Seems like a metal barrel would comply with their undetectable gun issue anyway.

    2. avatar Chip says:

      “..kevlar/high temp epoxy?”

      I think carbon fiber might be an option. Not sure how it compares cost-wise to kevlar.

      1. avatar William Burke says:

        Carbon nanotubes?

      2. avatar Hasdrubal says:

        Carbon is stronger but more brittle, kevlar resists crack propagation better.

  6. In the headline, “Dems Still Don’t Understand 3D Printing, Homemade Guns” please strike the words “3D Printing, Homemade”

    1. avatar LongBeach says:

      Damn! You beat me to it! I thought I was being all clever and stuff…

        1. avatar Ralph says:

          “Dems don’t understand jack sh1t.”

          Fixed it for all of you.

  7. avatar TheThingThatGoesUp says:

    “Just because something is illegal doesn’t mean people won’t do it. The failed war on drugs is a brilliant, shining example. Cocaine and marijuana and crystal meth are very much illegal but millions of Americans still use the substances every day.”

    Yes, and when they were legal they weren’t much of a problem. Now their prohibition is the cause of most gun murders.

    But the antis never seem to go after the majority of gun deaths. They keep pushing for legislation that even if laws were magic, could only effect a tiny percentage of the problem.

    How many murders are committed with “assault weapons”? How many murders are committed with legal guns that didn’t pass a background check? How many murders are committed by firing more than a few rounds from the same gun? Yet, they repeatedly push for restrictions on these things.

    1. avatar Braenen says:

      This plays into the hands of the anti-gunners because they have a reason to apply even more restrictions and to paint the law-abiding gun owners as dangerously unstable.

      This has to be part of the plan.

    2. avatar Cliff H says:

      Because anti-2A folks aren’t really concerned about the guns, they’re concerned about their political opposition (all of us) having guns.

      Repeating a previous comment of a few days ago, Stalin was asked why there were so many criminals working in his government. His reply was that political opponents could never be reformed and would always be a threat and so had to be eliminated or controlled. Criminals could not be rehabilitated, but if you gave them government jobs that allowed them to do what they wanted to do, but legally, they would be loyal to you to the bitter end.

      2A-antis know they can never control criminals with guns. It is their political opposition they want to eliminate and taking away our guns while leaving criminals armed serves their purpose of ever more government by making people dependent on government for protection. Hence they will vote Democrat.

      1. avatar crndl says:

        well said mate

    3. avatar Jus Bill says:

      “They keep pushing for legislation that even if laws were magic, could only effect a tiny percentage of the problem.”

      Why do they do this? Really? It isn’t about guns. That’s secondary. Follow the money. And power. It’s a nice little power-play to keep everyone they don’t like in line, and make some cash as well.

  8. avatar WayneMHK says:

    Allow law-abiding citizens to carry their weapons….anywhere (aka un-infringed), and the criminal advantage for plastic weapons basically goes away.

  9. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    I don’t understand Schumer’s rationale. Is he trying to ban 3-D printing or “undetectable” firearms?

    Any controls on 3-D printing are meaningless since anyone can use traditional methods to reshape blocks of plastic into firearms. And if Mr. Schumer thinks he is going to stop people from making undetectable firearms — whether with 3-D printers or traditional methods — he is insane because there is no way for Big Brother to know who is reshaping a block of plastic.

    1. avatar TheThingThatGoesUp says:

      Or a block of metal, for that matter.

  10. avatar Roll says:

    There’s a lot the Democrats (and antigunners in general) dont understand about many things. I am not surprised.

    1. avatar Jus Bill says:

      The whole world is a confusing, dangerous and frightening place to them. I wish they would stay under the bed.

  11. avatar Jeff says:

    not mentioned is the fact that the gun is useless without metal ammunition, so is it really undetectable at all?

    1. avatar Alpo says:

      Shhhhhh. That’s, like, logic.
      We’ll have none of that!

    2. avatar JaredFromTampa says:

      I suppose a determined gunman could stick a .380 round or two up his bum…

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        Talk about “silent but deadly.”

        1. avatar Avid Reader says:


    3. avatar Hasdrubal says:

      Caseless ammo has been around for a while, just rare. Not sure what has used it besides the G11, but far less metal than normal.

    4. avatar Cliff H says:

      Since this is for all intents and purposes a single-shot weapon it would not be difficult to modify the design into a muzzle loader with a ceramic projectile and a small cup in which to insert a primer. These technological details are not insurmountable if your purpose is to avoid detection.

    5. avatar Pascal says:

      The argument is that a bullet does not have enough metal to be detected.

      To this I call BS. If I can get pinched at the airport because I had a loose penny in my damn pocket that I did not notice, they can detect a single bullet.

      It is one more fear tactic supplied by the dems and propagated by the iMedia

  12. avatar Alpo says:


    A- Most people using illegally obtained (made?) guns aren’t trying to sneek them past an oldschool metal detector. They’re shooting up the streets, and would gladly invest that $1,000 in a couple of Hi Points over a 3d printer.

    B-Just wait until this tech really takes off in countries were the civil disarmament nazis have won (Australia, England, etc). Talk about fish in a barrel…

  13. avatar styrgwillidar says:

    “It’s the same logic I run into time and again hoplophobes. Namely, they truly believe that by adding one more law — another piece of paper — onto the existing pile of legislation, suddenly all crime in the United States will stop.”

    I believe you have it wrong. I believe its the same thinking behind getting restraining orders. In their minds you shouldn’t have power/control or take action to protect yourself. You should hand it over to the government- whether that means you personally still take a beating or get killed is irrelevant. They do not acknowledege a fundamental right to actively protect yourself. Its enough to them that— enventually the criminal, after their destructive acts, will be punished by the government. They see the power and rights being government derived vice residing with the people.

    It is not about stopping or lowering crime rates– its about who/what entity has rights and power to enforce them.

    1. avatar Braenen says:

      Restraining orders are great. They clearly spell out to the subject of the order that they are in the sights of law enforcement and that they are to take specific actions to avoid conflict. This tool, when properly implemented can change outcomes in future trials. With that said, it is only a piece of paper to those who are determined to do harm to another.

      If you feel threatened or know of someone who wishes to do you harm, get the paper. It is worth the effort; just dont forget your pistol.

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        Restraining orders are abused. They date back to a time when women never lied.

        1. avatar Avid Reader says:

          Wait. . .women lie? Let me check with my ex-wife on that one.

    2. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      To quote Schumer’s fellow anti-gun nutjob in Congress, Howard Metzenbaum (D-IL) from 1994:

      “I don’t care about crime. I just want to get the guns.”

  14. avatar John E> says:

    Do these people understand that a 3d printer costs as much as 10k? I don’t see your average gangbanger making liberators when he could get that hi-point for a buck fifty.

    1. avatar Ing says:

      It’s not the average gangbanger they’re worried about. It’s us. All the law-abiding gun owners who are only one violent urge away from becoming the criminals they believe we are.

      They’re the high school principal, and we’re Jack and Mae pulling all of society into…dun-dun-dun…. REEFER MADNESS!

      1. avatar William Burke says:

        Nice reference. Maybe the gun-grabbers should be forced to watch REEFER MADNESS, and write an essay on the question, “Based on present knowledge, what was accomplished by the whipped-up hysteria and outright banning of marijuana? Was it justified? Please cite a current parallel example of a hysteria to ban something.”

    2. avatar Cliff H says:

      The point of the Liberator is NOT for criminals to access untraceable and undetectable guns, its to prove to the tyrants that no matter how many unconstitutional gun laws they pass, up to and including confiscation, the people will get guns and they have ZERO power to stop that.

    3. avatar Stinkeye says:

      $10K can get you a pretty nice system. You can get lower-end (but still high-quality) 3D printers for much less. The MakerBot Replicator 2 goes for around $2000, I believe.

      Your point stands, though – gangbangers and ordinary criminals will not bother with this sort of thing, and wouldn’t even if the 3D printers were free. Too much effort and learning curve involved for an unreliable, single-shot weapon, when you can just buy a stolen Hi-Point for $100 from the guy on the corner.

      At least when the Hi-Point inevitably jams on you, you can beat your victim to death with it’s cinder-block like mass.

  15. avatar Mark says:

    You failed to mention that the new version of the bill being proposed by Schumer and his gang adds a ban on polymer receivers and magazines. The wording seems to mostly give manufacturers an exemption from the ban, but there is some bad stuff in there that I’m not sure the manufacturers would be entirely exempt from.

    Go here to let your congress critters know what you think about this:
    The house bill:
    The senate bill:

  16. avatar Pete says:

    The thing that REALLY gets me is the utter hypocrisy of saying that people can’t be trusted to not do X therefore we’ll pass these laws which they will (of course) follow.


  17. avatar Paul G. says:

    Next they will be making strict licensing requirements to buy plumbing pipes and fittings, and rubber bands.

    1. avatar DonS says:

      And stump remover, anti-fungal garden dust, wood, and ball bearings.

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        And pressure cookers.

        Our favorite pot roast is too, too deadly.

        1. avatar JaredFromTampa says:

          My mother in law’s pot roast should probably require a tax stamp…

  18. avatar Detroiter says:

    1000 dollar 3d printer? Wait till they figure out how much fun you could have with a 1000 dollar table top CNC mill! SCARY…..and awesome!

  19. avatar Don says:


    “The means of production belong to the people” – Fail

  20. avatar JTwig says:

    Last time I checked bullets were still made from metal, so who cares if a gun is all plastic and cannot be detected by x-ray or metal detectors; a gun without its bullets is useful only as a paper weight.

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      Funny how Schumer never mentions this (inconvenient) fact. Instead it all about the “undetectable gun” being smuggled onto aircraft by terrorists and the mentally ill. While holding up this huge and ungainly plastic pistol! N”BC News has a video report, which when viewed in its entirety, is absolutely hysterical. Schumer is all aflutter about the undetectable guns being used by evildoers, as stated, while the ATF rep was saying that the guns are unreliable and can blow up in your hand–and that they therefore have no hunting or sporting purpose (shows you where the ATF is coming from). Don’t we want the BGs to have unreliable weapons that blow up in their hands? Kills two birds with one stone, no?

      1. avatar William Burke says:

        He’s one of the foremost authorities on evil. He sees it in the bathroom mirror every morning, after awakening and getting down from his upside-down perch.

    2. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      Bullets don’t need to made of metal any more than guns do.

  21. avatar Redleg says:

    “Just because something is illegal doesn’t mean people won’t do it.”

    You know as a new gun owner a few decades ago I tried to abide by all the laws. After two decades in the Army and learning what the real world is like…I now ignore them ALL and living in California boy do I have a lot to ignore. Most of my friends and acquaintances are the same, they all ignore the gun laws as well. I know there are still those out there that are squeamish about non-compliance but I don’t run across them too often anymore.

    Many are starting to recognize that there are so darned many asinine gun laws in this state now that they are forcing the peaceable gun owners to disregard the law and that all of their laws are having the exact opposite affect of what they intend.

    “Any single man must judge for himself whether circumstances warrant obedience or resistance to the commands of the civil magistrate; we are all qualified, entitled, and morally obliged to evaluate the conduct of our rulers. This political judgment, moreover, is not simply or primarily a right, but like self-preservation, a duty to God. As such it is a judgment that men cannot part with according to the God of Nature. It is the first and foremost of our inalienable rights without which we can preserve no other.” – John Locke

    “There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. When there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.” – Ayn Rand

    “Formerly we suffered from crimes; now we suffer from laws.” – Publius Cornelius Tacitus

  22. avatar Pascal says:

    The dems never consider that humans have free will. Add “free will” to “bat shit crazy” and no piece of paper no matter how well written can trump that.

  23. avatar Good Guy With a Gun says:

    wouldn’t a plastic shank be as effective as a one shot gun, really, it’s going to do just as much harm, if not more

    cold steel honeycomb, anyone?

  24. avatar Rich Grise says:

    Having never heard of a Hi-Point, I JFG it.

    $150 new??
    I WANT one:

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      They get dissed a lot, but you can find a TON of YouTube tests on them. They come with value-added: they’re REALLY heavy – brick heavy, almost, and you can use it as a bludgeon if you run out of ammo.

      I looked at a lot of the videos, and I would say the reviews are over 60% favorable. Which isn’t bad, gun enthusiasts being nit-pickers and all.

  25. avatar Blue says:

    “Schumer says that means anyone can download a gun cheaply,”

    O.k. Does Shoomer and Bill “Snake Charmer” Nelson really believe this? That is a serious question. They may be part of the Moon Bat Caucus with Stretch Pelosi, Maxine Waters, Corine Brown, Sheila Jackson Lee, and Henry Wax-man if that is the case.

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      NO! They do NOT think that. They’re playing the Fear Card with practiced ease. The goal is a disarmed, compliant Amerika. They LOVE it when you think they’re stupid.

      Riddle me this: do you think the DEVIL is stupid?

      The worst thing you can do is underestimate your enemies.

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