HOLDEN – For years, the federal government has banned public distribution of designs for a working plastic gun people could download and make using a 3D printer.
The Trump administration did a federal rule change last week, a move that essentially removes the ban.
“What that will allow somebody to do anywhere in the world, and so accordingly, anywhere in Maine, is to download these codes off the internet through their computer and send them to a 3D printer that can then generate a fully functioning firearm,” said Geoff Bickford of the Maine Gun Safety Coalition. “That’s troubling for a variety of reasons.”
Maine is one of 21 states and the District of Columbia that filed a lawsuit to delay or stop the change, currently scheduled to go into effect in March, saying the new rule circumvents federal and Maine laws.
“I think firearms should be regulated,” said Holden Police Chief Chris Greeley, who once served as a Maine state representative.
“As a father of a teenager, they tend to be perhaps more computer literate than some of us, and so there is the chance for kids to have access to them now, and felons. And who knows who else who really shouldn’t have them.,” he added.
To avoid violating the Undetectable Firearms Act, all guns must have a metal component. Bickford said, the designs for 3D-printed guns have a metal firing pin, but that pin can also be printed.
“These firearms as they are printed at home are made from resins or plastic and that means they are not detected by metal detectors like a normal firearm would be,” Bickford said.
Greeley also voiced concerns about police officer safety.
“Is that person, who maybe they’re having an emotional episode or a mental health episode, and now they’re displaying this gun, how do we know it’s a real gun or not? That’s one more element to this that concerns me as a police chief,” Greeley said.
“It’s definitely a concern,” he said.