Creating a plastic gun with a 3-D printer could be banned in Philly


Manufacturing a gun using a three-dimensional printer could be banned in Philadelphia.  A City Council committee just voted to do so.

As you can watch in online videos, people have already successfully used a 3-D printer to create guns that can fire bullets. Councilman Curtis Jones says such weapons could be very dangerous if made of plastic.

 “One of the concerns is that they may be able to get past metal detectors at airports, or even in this building. So we want to understand technology, we want to understand the ramifications and in cases protect us against these kinds of misuses,” Jones said.

Francis Healy, an adviser to Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, said Ramsey is happy Council is taking action.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

“While these guns are made of hard plastic and are often very crude at this point, several versions have been able to fire and function very effectively,” Healy said. “And it’s for this reason that the bill is so important and the Philadelphia Police Department supports its passage into law.”

State and federal officials also are working on similar legislation. A bill pending in New York City Council would not ban it outright, but require people to be licensed gunsmiths to use 3-D printers to create guns.  If enacted, Healy said, Philadelphia’s law could be among the first in the country.

CORRECTION: This story was previously accompanied by a photo from Greater Manchester Police in northern England showing a plastic component made with a 3D printer, found by officers during a raid on suspected gang members. Police initially claimed the item was part of a plastic printed firearm but later issued a statement that they “cannot categorically say” it was for use in a gun.

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal