12 INVESTIGATES: 3D printed guns - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

12 INVESTIGATES: 3D printed guns

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

While the debate continues about banning certain types of guns, a Texas group says it's found a way to make it easier for anyone to get one.

This week, Defense Distributed released a video claiming to have created a working plastic gun you can print at home.

This is technology that could bypass laws and allow anyone to get a gun. All you need is a 3D printer. Those printers are sold online and quickly coming down in price.

It's called a "wiki weapon." Defense Distributed has been testing parts and posting videos for the last year. Before this weekend, they had only tested parts separately - including the lower receiver. That's the part of the gun that is licensed. It has a serial number. If you can make the receiver, then you've essentially got the gun.

The group's newest version is made almost entirely of plastic. It does have a metal pin. They call it the Liberator.

The one-shot plastic gun, made at home, would be untraceable. It's already caught the eye of Congress.

New York Senator Charles Schumer wants to pass a law to stop the use of 3D printers to manufacture plastic guns. "We're facing a situation where anyone - a felon, a terrorist - can open a gun factory in their garage, and the weapons they make will be undetectable. It's stomach churning."

VCU professor Kenneth Kahn teaches 3D printing and say the technology isn't far off, but he questions whether the plastic can really be safely weaponized.

"I don't believe that the materials, at least from what I've seen, can handle some of the stresses and the heat you might see coming from a gun."

The thought of a printed gun was even a little unsettling to Ed Coleman and Curtis Hicks at the Colonial Shooting Academy.

"That's called manufacturing a firearm and it's a specific license. We don't even have one. We have the license to deal in firearms, not to manufacturer firearms," said Hicks.

Both are gun advocates, but both question the legality and safety of a homemade gun.

"If I tell you, you can make this and it's safe to use and it blows up and hurts you, then you can sue me," said Coleman.

The non-profit Defense Distributed says it plans to post the blueprints for making guns online sometime this week. We checked and could not find the plans on the site as of Wednesday afternoon. The cheapest we could find 3D printers for is around a thousand bucks- the price of a large flat screen TV.

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