Rep. Israel puts pressure on 3-D gun printing

Rep. Israel puts pressure on 3-D gun printing
AP Photo/Julie Jacobson
By Phil Corso

While New York may have passed sweeping firearms reform, one northeast Queens lawmaker said not even the toughest gun laws in the country go far enough to combat a different under-the-radar kind of weapon.

On the heels of a heated debate over gun regulation in his state, U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Hauppauge) renewed his push to overhaul the Undetectable Firearms Act to include the banning of 3-D-printed, high-capacity plastic magazines. Under the current ban, which is set to expire this year, the printing of 3-D plastic guns is strictly prohibited but magazines are not, Israel said.

“Background checks and gun regulations will do little good if criminals can print high-capacity magazines at home,” Israel said. “3-D printing is a new technology that shows great promise, but also requires new guidelines. Law enforcement officials should have the power to stop high-capacity magazines from proliferating with a Google search.”

With the help of new-age 3-D printers, Israel said anyone could easily print high-capacity weapons that go undetectable by metal detectors and do not present an accurate image when put through an X-ray machine. The machines work by printing layer upon layer of usually thermoplastic materials to form a 3-D object.

Though the current Undetectable Firearms Act bars the creation of any 3-D plastic guns, Israel said he hoped to revamp the current law to also prevent the printing of the heavily-regulated lower receivers of guns, which typically bear the weapon’s serial number.

“Congress passed a law banning plastic guns for two decades, when they were just a movie fantasy,” Israel said. “With the advent of 3-D printers, these guns are suddenly a real possibility, but the law Congress passed is set to expire.”

John Feinblatt, chief adviser to Mayor Michael Bloomberg for policy and strategic planning, praised Israel’s push to expand the current regulations.

“We thank Congressman Israel for his leadership in working to keep New Yorkers safe,” Feinblatt said. “Gun violence is a national public safety crisis that deserves the urgent attention of our leaders in Washington, and we hope many will follow the congressman’s example.”

Earlier this month, state lawmakers acted quickly to enact the New York Secure Firearms and Ammunition Enforcement Act of 2013 as the nation’s first and toughest firearms reform following the December massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Among its many reforms, the state expanded its ban on assault weapons and ammunition clips and required gun owners to register weapons.

Queens lawmakers, including state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), praised the legislation with caution, adding that there was still a lot of work to do.

“It will certainly deter certain types of mass shootings,” Gianaris said. “No one’s going to stop a lunatic who’s trying to damage and hurt people, but this makes it more difficult for a person to go out there and kill or injure someone.”

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.