Undetectable Firearms and 3D Printing

Special Guest Author – Rick Vasquez of Rick Vasquez Firearms LLC and

former ATF Acting Chief of the Firearms Technology Branch

If you had zero knowledge of firearms as many talking heads on the media display, you might believe there is a new phenomenon called 3D printing of guns. Additionally, you may believe polymer firearms were recently designed, and thirdly, you would likely have no idea what the Undetectable Firearm Act is. With this lack of knowledge, you may spew disinformation about how modern firearms are undetectable and easily bypass all security elements.

Polymer firearms have been around several years. The first successful firearm with a polymer receiver was the H&K VP70 pistol. This pistol was introduced circa 1970. Then, of course, the Glock which took polymer firearms to a new height was introduced circa 1980-1982 ( https://eu.glock.com/en/explore-glock/glock-history). After this date, the use of polymers in firearm receivers has become common place.

During the 1980’s, the hysteria on plastic guns played out in the media exactly as it is today. There was hysteria over the ability of a polymer firearm to pass through a metal detector. In 1986, there was a supposed incident at the Atlanta Airport in which a Glock passed the screening, and it created media hysteria. It was later discovered that the screening machine was not properly being used, but why waste a good story?

The media began covering plastic and undetectable guns that could not be discovered with airport equipment. I have provided a few links to stories from the 1980s on undetectable firearms. (Footnote 1) Of course, a good lawmaker could not let misinformation go without passing an anti-gun law. Because of the issue created by the media, the Undetectable Firearm Act was passed in 1988. (Footnote 2)  Imagine if this law had made plastic firearms unlawful, what the historical impact would have been to our military and law enforcement?

But what can Congress do to alleviate a law they proposed impacting manufacturers in heavy democrat districts in 1988? If the law prohibits polymer firearms, manufacturers like Glock and S&W would be out of business. This is easy! Congress changes the meaning of a firearm receiver in the new statute. In the Gun Control Act, Title 18 U.S.C. section 921 (a)(3) firearm is defined as (3) The term “firearm” means (A) any weapon (including a starter gun) which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive; (B) the frame or receiver of any such weapon; (C) any firearm muffler or firearm silencer; or (D) any destructive device… Such term do not include an antique firearm.

The undetectable statute is listed in its’ entirety below but for comparison to the definition of a firearm receiver already in the Gun Control Act, the pertinent parts are here: Title 18, U.S.C., Chapter 44, Section 922 (p)(1) It shall be unlawful for any person to manufacture, import, sell, ship, deliver, possess, transfer, or receive any firearm–

(A) that, after removal of grips, stocks, and magazines, is not as

detectable as the Security Exemplar, by walk-through metal detectors calibrated and operated to detect the Security Exemplar; or

(B) any major component of which, when subjected to inspection by the types of x-ray machines commonly used at airports, does not generate an image that accurately depicts the shape of the component. Barium sulfate or other compounds may be used in the fabrication of the component.

(2) For purposes of this subsection –

(A) the term “firearm” does not include the frame or receiver of any such weapon;

(B) the term “major component” means, with respect to a firearm, the barrel, the slide or cylinder, or the frame or receiver of the firearm; and …

In the Gun Control Act, the firearm frame is all of the following: the housing, the registered part, the part that must be serialized, and the part a background check must be conducted on for a lawful transfer. Under the Undetectable Firearm Act the receiver as defined in the GCA is not restricted to be made of plastic or polymer or any non-metallic substance. The Undetectable Firearms Act was written to only prohibit the ability of a slide or barrel to be made that does not have the same detectability as the “security exemplar.”

Recently Government experts have been informing the media that a firearm must have the same amount of metal as a security exemplar made of 3.7 ounces of PH 17- 4 stainless steel. This is incorrect, the law does not require that the slide or barrel possess at least 3.7 ounces of PH17-4 stainless steel, the law requires the handgun must be as detectable under the equipment used in 1988, as the security exemplar. This is the misinformation that is being passed through the media. Whether they are getting the information through lawmakers or law enforcement bureaus, the research is not being conducted.

This watered-down version of the law was passed to protect manufacturers in heavy democrat voting districts and then appear that they are protecting citizens against terrorist. In 1988 and today, polymer firearms are made with metal slides and barrels. These polymer receivers do not have 3.7 ounces of PF 17-4 stainless or other metal in the “receiver” that is regulated in section 921(a)(3).

 

3D Misunderstanding:

Of course, once Cody Wilson made the Liberator pistol using a 3d printer and plastic, the antigun hysteria has reawakened. Numerous government agencies bought 3D printers and made a Liberator pistol with a file that was uploaded to the internet by Cody Wilson.

Then they did their own testing. The testing shows that the plastic barrel may withstand one or a few rounds of .380 caliber ammunition.3 Numerous other agencies made AR15 lower receivers and also tested them. With affordable and available 3D printing, the AR 15 receiver is a more viable firearm to make using a 3D printer. The difference in the AR receiver is that the receiver is not the part of the firearm that accepts the chamber pressure. The chamber pressure is captured in the steel barrel in the upper assembly. Of course, there are more expensive aluminum and steel 3D printers available, but the hobbyists are not going to purchase these to make a firearm. These versions of 3D printers will eventually be cost effective as technology advances.

Remember, the Liberator is a one-shot pistol that must be disassembled to be reloaded. The World Trade Center was destroyed by terrorists using boxcutters. Does the technology at the airport have the capability to pick up boxcutters?

The report prepared by a law enforcement agency on the Liberator informed Cody Wilson that if he made the Liberator pistol, he must install a 3.7 ounce piece of metal into the receiver. The following instruction was given:

The steel block recommendation reads as follows:

“Once the frame is finished, epoxy a 1.19×1.19×0.99″ block of steel in the 1.2×1.2×1.0″ hole in front of the trigger guard. Add the bottom cover over the metal if you don’t want it to show.

Once the epoxy has dried [sic], the steel is no longer removable, and is an integral part of the frame. Now your gun has 6 ounces of steel and is thus considered a ‘detectable’ firearm.” This is statutorily incorrect as 922(p) does not consider the firearm receiver the receiver. It considers the barrel and slide assembly the detectable portions. Additionally, this block of steel is not in the shape of a security exemplar and would not give off the satisfactory image required by the statute.

Cody Wilson should have been properly informed that the Liberator, having a smooth bore, is an “any other weapon” (AOW) under the National Firearms Act. If he were a licensed manufacturer of firearms and had paid the special occupational tax to make NFA weapons, he could properly register the Liberator as an “AOW”. Regardless of the registration, the barrel assembly must comply with 922(p) and have as much detectability as a 3.7-ounce 17-4 PH stainless steel security exemplar.

Since the invention of plastic firearms, there have been other designs of firearm receivers that could create an undetectable concern. Firearms manufacturers are currently making an internal metal chassis that is considered the firearm, and the polymer grip is only a housing. The following link shows a 80% pistol chassis for a Sig pistol for sale. https://www.1776supplyco.com/product/80-p320-pistol-frame/. The chassis, being the receiver, does not weigh 3.5 ounces nor will it show the same resonance as the security exemplar. Another example of a firearm that can be made with simple tools and with the receiver not being made of metal is the after-market Glock 80% receiver. https://www.glockstore.com/Spectre-Polymer80-Compact-Textured. These firearms are more available and easier to make than a 3D printed Liberator.

The real issue is the fact that our lawmakers and senior law enforcement heads do not know the subject or the laws that they pass. When asked what they are doing to fix a problem that does not exist, they create media hysteria by commenting with bizarre explanations.

Technology is advancing daily. Don’t view technology changing in a few years or even months. Think of it changing in a matter of days. The technology being used by the firearms industry is very critical to all aspects of its industry. All firearms built or provided for our military are developed by private firearms manufacturers. Our military and law enforcement do not have a firearm making capability. Therefore, firearms manufacturers, in an effort to sell their product to our military, invest hundreds of millions of dollars developing technology that benefits all sectors of U.S. manufacturing.

3D printing is a perfect example of advancing technology that was not being used to it’s potential in the manufacturing industry. Until Cody Wilson built the Liberator pistol, very few people even knew what 3D printing was or that the technology existed. Many sectors of all industry and manufacturing are now using 3D printing technology for development of different products. The cost of rapid prototyping and making new designs is decreasing rapidly.

Modern manufacturing is moving forward with new technologies and instead of trying to impede the progress by our lawmakers and law enforcement, people need to be looking for methods of detection. In 2003, I visited the Transportation Safety Administration Technology Center in Atlantic City, NJ. I met with senior personnel and discussed the types of technology that could detect supposed undetectable firearms and other undetectable items. At the time, the magnetometer that ATF owned for testing was so outdated, it could not be repaired and had not been used in several years.

In 2003, I received a lot of information regarding detection equipment and a lot of information regarding magnetometers. All of this was shared with management. Magnetometers that were in use by TSA in 2003 were technologically superior to the one that was used at the same time by FTB.   What technology is available in 2018? Previous magnetometers, as the model that FTB owned, were required to be able to detect a set of 3 specific weapons. The equipment that TSA had was sensitive enough to detect all polymer firearms, polymer knives and other weapons. Additionally, current magnetometers are calibrated on a daily basis.

Instead of fighting technology, embrace it. Use technology to defend against all threats and use the best detecting machines at the airport. A razor-sharp ceramic knife is a far superior and deadly weapon than a one or two-shot firearm that must be disassembled to be reloaded. If our airports do not have the proper equipment to detect these types of items, then our law makers should be fired. In closing, just imagine the historical impact on our law enforcement and military if our law makers had outlawed the use of plastic in the manufacturing of firearms.

 

Rick Vasquez

Former Assistant Chief/Acting Chief

ATF Firearms Technology Branch Current

Firearms Industry Advisor

 

http://articles.latimes.com/1988-04-26/news/mn-1594_1_plastic-gun https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1986/05/15/the-deadly-truth-about-plastic- guns/d5d14631-ed41-4fb4-bf8c-63098269cabc/?utm_term=.1ad13948a40e.

2 https://www.congress.gov/bill/100th-congress/house-bill/4445/all-info

3 https://www.wired.com/story/a-landmark-legal-shift-opens-pandoras-box-for-diy-guns/

Attachment:

Title 18, U.S.C., Chapter 44, Section 922 (p)(1) It shall be unlawful for any person to manufacture, import, sell, ship, deliver, possess, transfer, or receive any firearm –

(A) that, after removal of grips, stocks, and magazines, is not as detectable as the Security Exemplar, by walk-through metal detectors calibrated and operated to detect the Security Exemplar; or

(B) any major component of which, when subjected to inspection by the types of x-ray machines commonly used at airports, does not generate an image that accurately depicts the shape of the Barium sulfate or other compounds may be used in the fabrication of the component.

(2) For purposes of this subsection –

(A) the term “firearm” does not include the frame or receiver of any such weapon;

(B) the term “major component” means, with respect to a firearm, the barrel, the slide or cylinder, or the frame or receiver of the firearm; and

(C) the term “Security Exemplar” means an object, to be fabricated at the direction of the Secretary, that is –

(i)constructed of, during the 12-month period beginning on the date of the enactment of this subsection, 3.7 ounces of material type 17-4 PH stainless steel in a shape resembling a handgun; and

(ii) suitable for testing and calibrating metal detectors:

Provided, however, That at the close of such 12-month period, and at appropriate times thereafter the Secretary shall promulgate regulations to permit the manufacture, importation, sale, shipment, delivery, possession, transfer, or receipt of firearms previously prohibited under this subparagraph that are as detectable as a “Security Exemplar” which contains 3.7 ounces of material type 17-4 PH stainless steel, in a shape resembling a handgun, or such lesser amount as is detectable in view of advances in state-of-the-art developments in weapons detection technology.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized, Firearms Law, ATF

FCC SPEEDS ACCESS TO UTILITY POLES TO PROMOTE BROADBAND, 5G DEPLOYMENT

Access to Poles Must Be Safe, Swift, Predictable, and Affordable

WASHINGTON, August 2, 2018—The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) promoted broadband deployment and competition by speeding the process and reducing the costs of attaching new network facilities to utility poles.FCCRuling

To enable broadband providers to enter new markets and deploy high-speed networks, access to poles must be swift, predictable, safe, and affordable.  Pole access also is essential in the race to deploy fast 5G wireless service, which relies on small cells and wireline backhaul.  An estimated 100,000 to 150,000 small cells will be constructed by the end of 2018, and these numbers are projected to reach 455,000 by 2020 and 800,000 by 2026.

The FCC fundamentally reformed the federal framework governing pole attachments by adopting a process in which the new attacher moves existing attachments and performs all other work required to make the pole ready for a new attachment.  Called “one-touch, make-ready,” (OTMR) this process speeds and reduces the cost of broadband deployment by allowing the party with the strongest incentive—the new attacher—to prepare the pole quickly, rather than spreading the work across multiple parties.

By some estimates, one-touch, make-ready alone could result in approximately 8.3 million incremental premises passed with fiber and about $12.6 billion in incremental fiber capital expenditures.  The process will not apply to more complicated attachments, or above the “communications space” of a pole, where safety and reliability risks are greater, but the Order improves current processes for attachments in these spaces.

The FCC also addressed two forms of state and local regulatory barriers to the deployment of wireline and wireless facilities.  The Report and Order makes clear that the FCC will preempt, on a case-by-case basis, state and local laws that inhibit the rebuilding or restoration of broadband infrastructure after a disaster.  And in a Declaratory Ruling, the FCC made clear that blanket state and local moratoria on telecommunications services and facilities deployment are barred by the Communications Act because they, in the language of Section 253(a), “prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting the ability of any entity to provide any interstate or intrastate telecommunications service.”

Action by the Commission August 2, 2018 by Report and Order and Declaratory Ruling (FCC 18-111).  Chairman Pai, Commissioners O’Rielly, and Carr approving.  Commissioner Rosenworcel approving in part and dissenting in part.  Chairman Pai, Commissioners O’Rielly, Carr, and Rosenworcel issuing separate statements.  WC Docket No. 17-84; WT Docket No. 17-79.

If you or your business have legal questions or concerns regarding communications law, computer law, privacy, or cybersecurity law matters, contact attorney Jeffrey A. Franklin at Prince Law Offices.

Leave a comment

Filed under Business Law, Communications Law, Computer Law, Energy Law, Real Estate

ATF releases 2018 Report on Firearm Commerce in the United States (Numbers, Bar Graphs, and Pie Charts!)

ATF has released its annual Firearms Commerce in the United States Statistical Update for 2018. As my one friend put it, “Let the nerdery begin.” To be fair, you have to be pretty nerdy to enjoy this stuff, hence me writing about it.

The Annual Firearms Manufacturing and Exportation Report (AFMER) is only current through 2016. This is because AFMER data is not published until one year after the close of a calendar reporting year because the information provided by those whole filed a report is protected from immediate disclosure by the Trade Secrets Act. Which is why you see a two year lag (2016 data reporting in the beginning of 2017 and a year delay between its reporting and publication).

Screen Shot 2017-08-23 at 8.10.14 AM

In 2016, there were a total of 11,497,441 firearms manufactured. This was up from 2015’s number of 9,358,661 by about 20%. The number of exports was up from the previous year by about 9%, from 343,456 in 2015 to 376,818 in 2016.

The total number of imports fell from 5,137,771 in 2016 to 4,492,256 in 2017 (imports are not included not the AFMER report which is why the numbers are more current). Once again, the number of handguns imported accounts for over half the total number of firearms imported.

For those of you NFA junkies, in 2017, there was $6,371,000 in occupational taxes paid (SOTs). This is up again from the year prior and slightly under double that of 2012. Taxes paid were $22,972,00 for 2017, about a third of what was paid in 2016 ($62,596,000). Interestingly, there were 6,749 record checks, which means that ATF searched the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record (NFRTR) that many times to determine if a firearm was possessed lawfully or if the transfer was performed lawfully. That number is up 202 times from 2016.

In 2017, there were 40,444 Form 1s and 184,312 Form 4s filed. These numbers were different from the year prior, but not by a significant margin for the Form 1s (Form 1s were down by about 9,000 but Form 4s were up about 51,000). The total number of forms processed by the NFA Branch was down about a million from the year prior. 2017 number look similar to that of 2014 and 2015.

As far as NFA firearms registered by state, Texas still leads with 637,612. Florida follows with 377,2017. California (thanks Hollywood), Virginia and Pennsylvania round out the top 5. Florida leads the charge with registered machine guns, sitting at 44,484. Texas has an astonishing 265,597 registered silencers. Florida is the next closest with 98,972 registered silencers.

CR-parrotheadjeff-dot-com

There are currently 55,588 licensed collectors of curios or relics, making it the most popular license type. It is followed closely by dealer in firearms, of which there are 56,638 active licenses. ATF reports 136,081 total active licenses (across the spectrum). Texas holds 10,920 of those licenses, making it the state with the most.

In 2017, 17 license applications were denied. This number is up exactly one from the year prior. As for compliance inspections, ATF performed 11,009 last year. This equates to 8.09% of all licensees in 2017 being inspected.

As always, the annual report helps give some insight as to ongoings within the firearms industry.

Leave a comment

Filed under ATF, Firearms Law

Court Filings In Pennsylvania v. Defense Distributed – An Interesting Look Behind The Scenes…

Earlier today, I blogged about the numerous news reports that an injunction had been sought against Defense Distributed, et al. and that Defense Distributed, et al. agreed to make “its sites unaccessible to Pennsylvania users,” however, at that time, there was no docket for the case. As a docket has now been generated with the filings, it is interesting to see what was actually filed in this matter, which is docketed as Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, et al., v. Defense Distributed, et al., 2:18-cv-03208 and assigned to the Honorable Paul S. Diamond, a President George W. Bush nominee.

Defense Distributed Docket.jpg

As we already knew, Governor Wolf, Attorney General Shapiro and the Pennsylvania State Police filed a Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction, which was rendered moot, per the Court’s Order, “in light of Defendants’ agreement to refrain from posting new information and to block all challenged information from being accessed in Pennsylvania.”

What may be more interesting to our viewers is the behind-the-scenes look at the 35 page email exchange on Sunday regarding this matter and how, in allegedly emergent situations, the court can schedule hearings in a very prompt manner, regardless of date or time. I find it interesting that when challenged by Professor/Attorney Blackman in relation to the Commonwealth having witnesses which were not disclosed to him or his clients in advance, the Commonwealth argument is “We certainly have not tried to ambush you, Mr. Blackman — we have just been busy.” I guess being busy must have meant preparing a press release and twitter account postings, in advance of the hearing, so that they’d be ready to be published immediately after the hearing. Defense Distributed would be well-advised to prepare for these types of shenanigans throughout the proceedings…

If your constitutional rights have been violated by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, contact Firearms Industry Consulting Group today to discuss YOUR rights and legal options.

 


Firearms Industry Consulting Group® (FICG®) is a registered trademark and division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., with rights and permissions granted to Prince Law Offices, P.C. to use in this article.

 

5 Comments

Filed under Firearms Law, Pennsylvania Firearms Law

Governor Wolf and Attorney General Shapiro Violate Pennsylvania Residents’ First and Second Amendment Rights in Precluding Access to 3D Gun Files

Numerous news agencies are reporting that Governor Wolf, Attorney General Shapiro and the Pennsylvania State Police yesterday filed an emergency motion in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against Defense Distributed, DEFCAD, Ghost Gunner and Cody Wilson, to preclude access to their websites by Pennsylvania residents and that Defense Distributed, et al., agreed to make “its sites unaccessible to Pennsylvania users,” all in violation of the First and Second Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, not to mention the numerous violations of the Pennsylvania Constitution.

Although the article mentions a press release being sent out by the AG Shapiro’s Office, the AG’s website has no mention of the press release, PACER does not yet list such a matter in the Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania and a recently found Complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief is dated July 30, 2018 (i.e. for today). Of course, in an emergency situation, it would not be unusual for a motion for a restraining order to be made in advance of a complaint being filed.

As you can see from the Complaint, Governor Wolf and Attorney General Shapiro make multiple false statements about both the factual background (e.g. that the Defense Distributed “provide[s] guns to residents of the Commonwealth”) and the law (e.g. that electronic data constitutes a firearm and that the UFA or GCA regulate data). More importantly, there are numerous ways to challenge this action, including my hope that Defense Distributed, et al., files a counterclaim under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1988 for violation of their constitutional rights and that Governor Wolf and AG Shapiro can explain to the residents of the Commonwealth, why the taxpayers have been hit with a several hundred thousand dollar attorney fee award.

If your constitutional rights have been violated by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, contact Firearms Industry Consulting Group today to discuss YOUR rights and legal options.

 


Firearms Industry Consulting Group® (FICG®) is a registered trademark and division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., with rights and permissions granted to Prince Law Offices, P.C. to use in this article.

 

8 Comments

Filed under Firearms Law, Pennsylvania Firearms Law

Governor Wolf Introduces Opioid Prescribing Guidelines for Workers’ Compensation Patients

by Karl Voigt

This week, Pennsylvania Governor Wolf launched opioid prescribing guidelines for workers’ compensation claimants, citing the opioid epidemic as its impeller. The Governor stated that Pennsylvania ranks third highest in the nation in the percentage of injured workers who become long-term opioid users. To counter that trend, these guidelines, which are not intended to replace clinical judgment, would advise doctors in the treatment of not just acute or post-surgical pain, but also chronic pain. To view the guidelines, click here.

1 Comment

Filed under Workers' Compensation

Pennsylvania Supreme Court AFFIRMS Decision Imposing Financial Judgment Against the Pennsylvania State Police for Violating Second Amendment Rights!

Today, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued an order in Haron v. PSP, 65 MAP 2017, affirming the Commonwealth Court’s decision entering a judgment of approximately $6,500 against the Pennsylvania State Police (“PSP”) for erroneously denying an individual his right to keep and bear arms, in an issue of first impression that was litigated by Chief Counsel Joshua Prince and Attorney Adam Kraut. We previously blogged about the Commonwealth Court’s decision, when we were successful in securing that initial decision. Thereafter, the PSP appealed to the PA Supreme Court.

Today, seemingly finding that the PSP’s appeal was frivolous and didn’t even warrant time being spent to write a decision, the PA Supreme Court issued the Per Curiam Order simply stating “AND NOW, this 18th day of July, 2018, the order of the Commonwealth Court is hereby AFFIRMED.” As such, we will be filing a motion with the Court for additional attorney fees and costs incurred by Mr. Haron during the PSP’s appeal to the PA Supreme Court. Hopefully, this decision will cause the PSP to reconsider its tactic of denying individuals and forcing them to incur attorney fees and costs in matters, where the individual is not prohibited under the law.

If your rights have been denied during the purchase/transfer of a firearm or have been otherwise violated by the PSP, contact Firearms Industry Consulting Group today to discuss YOUR rights and legal options.

 


Firearms Industry Consulting Group® (FICG®) is a registered trademark and division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., with rights and permissions granted to Prince Law Offices, P.C. to use in this article.

3 Comments

Filed under Firearms Law, Pennsylvania Firearms Law