ATF on 3-D printed guns

The ATF just Tweeted a link to a Q & A .PDF about 3-D printed guns.

I put a copy here.

The short version is:

Yes, it’s legal without a license as long as it is not an NFA item. If it does not have a rifled barrel then it might be classified as ‘Any Other Weapon” which is an NFA item.

Summary of who can and how to get a license to manufacture.

It seems a reasonable response once you suspend disbelief enough to allow that the ATF is more constitutionally permissible than a BRAS (Bureau of Religion, Assembly, and Speech).

Update: There are some questions (and this is why I was deliberately vague above) about what constitutes an AOW. From 26 USC § 5845:

The term “any other weapon” means any weapon or device capable of being concealed on the person from which a shot can be discharged through the energy of an explosive, a pistol or revolver having a barrel with a smooth bore designed or redesigned to fire a fixed shotgun shell, weapons with combination shotgun and rifle barrels 12 inches or more, less than 18 inches in length, from which only a single discharge can be made from either barrel without manual reloading, and shall include any such weapon which may be readily restored to fire. Such term shall not include a pistol or a revolver having a rifled bore, or rifled bores, or weapons designed, made, or intended to be fired from the shoulder and not capable of firing fixed ammunition.

It is my NON-LAWYER reading of this that since neither the current nor WWII Liberator fires a shogun shell they do not qualify as an AOW even though the barrels are not rifled.


26 thoughts on “ATF on 3-D printed guns

  1. Would that mean that the feminists of yester-year burning their BRAS is not protected free speech?

    • It could be construed that way. I suspect a review by the Supreme Court is required to make the final determination.

  2. Hm. So is a Liberator (the WW2 one) an “any other weapon”?

      • ATFE has consistently ruled that a smoothbarrel makes a “handgun” type cased ammunition gun an AOW, because it is concealable, and is neither a rifle, shotgun, pistol, revolver, nor any other type of NFA weapon. The ammo and post-1898 production makes it a “firearm” under GCA, and being a smoothbore concealable “pistol” type gun qualifies it as an NFA controlled AOW.

  3. The thing I was wondering, and don’t see answered straight out, is; “Does that new Liberator actually use an all-plastic barrel?”

    If “…shall not be infringed” had any meaning at all, there would be none of these nit-picking legal issues because they encroach upon the fringes of keeping and bearing arms.

    Joe’s insightful comment on a federal “Bureau of Religion, Assembly, and Speech” cuts right to it. On that note, we see Whitehouse types calling meetings with various pastors and church leaders, trying to bring them on board with promoting the idea that more gun restriction is a moral imperative, you know, for Jesus. Cute, isn’t it? So be careful making sarcastic jokes– They may already have been coming true. But few in the religious camps are falling for it. I visited a church group in Lewiston, ID a while back, and there was more firepower per capita in there than you find in the average local supermarket, for sure. The Catholic Church is still a potential problem though. You Catholics had best keep your leadership in line. Anything in the way of passivity that Jesus may have promoted certainly had nothing to do with law-making in Rome. It was all about personal choice, so don’t get roped into siding with the enemies of freedom.

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  5. Don’t worry. In a few months they will change there mind making it illegal.

    • They’re fighting a losing battle and they know it. They therefore know that time is of the essence. Look for more desperate measures from the left. It will not be pretty.

  6. *This* design apparently has a smooth bore, but surely it’s not impossible to change the design so that the grooves are printed right into the bore, is it? (Can’t imagine a rifled bore would have the same 10-round life that the smoothbore supposedly does, but if that gets it out of the AOW category…)

  7. Tough as this plastic is, I’m not sure that rifling would stand up to very many shots before it is obliterated.

  8. The rifling wouldn’t have to stand up to repeated firings, nor indeed even necessarily be effective in stabilizing the bullet. A very slow but measurable twist to the rifling would appear to take it out of AOW territory.

    The other option is to simply make the gun a muzzleloader, which can be smoothbore without being considered AOWs. In fact, it might actually lead to quicker reloads: If you design the gun so that you can quickly drop a spent barrel and pop in a new one, you could carry loaded and capped barrels for a quick reload capability, certainly quicker than you can reload a single barrel with a cartridge, and it conveys other benefits: Muzzleloaders are outside the regulatory structure for firearms, lower pressures from the use of black powder or Pyrodex mean longer barrel life, and you don’t have to make them visible to x-rays or magnetometers by including a chunk of metal to remain legal.

    • You can design the barrels with the nipple recessed so that accidentally dropping a loaded and capped barrel won’t result in it firing under all most all conditions. Just thought I’d answer that safety issue before it’s brought up.

    • Best idea yet. Your pre-loaded barrel sets could function as individual cartidges (like early Gatlings).

      As pointed out, muzzleloaders are exempt from federal firearms configuration, shipping, manufacturing, and possession laws (although are still classed as “firearms” for the purposes of being a weapon, under criminal codes).

      • I thought of a “pepperbox” sort of configuration myself, but it would be rather cumbersome unless they found a way to make the barrels thinner.

  9. Even if there’s no evident wiggle room, the FBATFE will create some, like they did in banning .410-guage DDupleks ammo while allowing it for 20 & 12 guages. They used the faulty logic that since S&W + Taurus revolvers existed, this would put steel-core ammo into pistols, a no-no (but one I can’t find quoted anywhere).

    There’s some sort of technical reason with the rim of certain .410 rounds that says they can’t be used in revolvers, but the FBATFE ignored the tech reason, banning import of all the DDupleks ammo in .410. I wanted some for my survival gun, a Savage 24D.

    There’s a procedure in both Federal & State jurisprudence which can force a defendant known for filing frivolous lawsuits to “pre-file” them with the court for review, before they are marked up as actual lawsuits. With the FBATFE making so many faulty and un-Constututional regulations, how come this jurisprudence principle hasn’t been applied to that agency?

    • Because of the existance of factory .410 gauge pistols and revolvers, .410 gauge ammo is evaluated as pistol ammo for the purposes of the armor piercing ammo ban. The claim that teh rim somehow prevents the chambering of a particular .410 shell in a particular chamber fails, as any shell close enough to fit a SAAMI .410 chamber will fit at least one .410 handgun that has been factory produced. (They banned Chinese steel core 7.62×39 based on a HANDFUL of AK style pistols.)

      As 20 and 12 gauges are both in excess of 0.5 inches, they CANNOT be pistols or revolvers under US law, and thus cannot be “armor piercing ammuntion” under US gun laws.

      The ban has a statutory definition based on the composition of the projos — thus steel core projos make it “armor piercing”, even in .410.

      Blame Congress, for writing a bad law to address a nonexistant problem. ATF is actually (in this case), merely folloing the law.

  10. ….which a shot can be discharged through the energy of an explosive,….

    Hmmm…. Black Powder is considered an explosive.

    Smokeless powder is a propellant and does not “Explode”

    Or am I understanding this incorrectly?

  11. So I can create a handgun without a “permit” in my heavily restrictive area? Or do I need a local carry permit (even if only intending to keep on grounds) ?

    • BIll,

      The bat boys ruling applies to interpretation of federal laws and regulations as they pertain to manufacture.

      You will still need to comply with any state and local restrictions that apply to your jurisdiction regarding manufacture, storage and carrying.

      My guess is if you couldn’t do any of that last week then you can’t now either.


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