As 3-D printed gun debate rages, Ohio AG DeWine says ‘it is legal to make a gun’

Aug 01, 2018
Cody Wilson holds what he calls a Liberator pistol that was completely made on a 3-D-printer at his home in Austin, Texas. Eight states filed suit Monday, July 30, 2018, against the Trump administration over its decision to allow a Texas company to publish downloadable blueprints for a 3D-printed gun, contending the hard-to-trace plastic weapons are a boon to terrorists and criminals and threaten public safety. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP, File)

While other states across the country move to restrict or prohibit 3-D printing of firearms, Ohio isn’t among them.

The push comes as Texas-based Defense Distributed seeks to post online down-loadable plans for 3-D printing of several firearms.

Twenty-one state attorneys general sent a letter on July 30 to U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, urging the Trump administration to ditch a recent settlement with Defense Distributed that would exempt the company from federal regulations against international arms trafficking.

The attorneys general said in the letter that the settlement terms and proposed rules “are deeply dangerous and could have an unprecedented impact on public safety.”

They warned that it’ll allow people to sidestep laws that regulate the manufacture, sale, transfer, possession and export of firearms.

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Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, the Republican now running for governor, did not sign the letter.

DeWine says ‘it is legal to make a gun’

“My lawyers in the Attorney General’s office tell me that it is legal to make a gun, it’s not legal to sell it under certain circumstances without a permit,” he said. “My understanding is that is what the law is so I did not sign on.”

Democrat Richard Cordray, his opponent and a former attorney general, said on Twitter: “Mike DeWine’s position could allow criminals and the mentally ill to print their own guns at home and severely hamper our law enforcement officers from being able to do their jobs.”

Court orders issued late Tuesday temporarily block Defense Distributed and its founder, Cody Wilson, from uploading the instruction sets to the Internet.

Three-dimensional printers create objects based on computer file directions, using plastic filament. Printers can be purchased for home use or people can make arrangements to use 3-D printers at maker-space workshops.

There is no sign that the GOP-controlled Ohio General Assembly will take up the matter any time soon.

Federal vs. state issue

Jim Irvine of Buckeye Firearms Association says that’s the right course of action. “I don’t see how any state has a dog in that hunt. It’s a federal issue,” he said.

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He added that there are easier ways to obtain firearms than downloading computer files and using a 3-D printer. “Your criminal is not going to go do this because they do not have the material or money or expertise to do this. It’s way easier to buy one or steal one.”

Toby Hoover of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence said Ohio should join other states that are pushing to block the posting of the instruction files.

“No serial numbers, they’re not traceable. They can be used in crimes and really hinder law enforcement,” she said of the printed guns. “It opens up something that allows anyone to do it. So you have felons that are prohibited (from possessing guns) could make them.”