With everything going on in today's world, it is almost impossible to make it through a day in which you don't hear something in the headlines about gun violence in America.  And, because of this, it has become a worldwide topic of conversation.

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So, while having a conversation about 3D printers and how amazing they are becoming, a 12-year-old kid in the room said something that really sent my brain spinning out of control. He said, "I sure hope they don't figure out how to print guns with a 3D printer."

That thought sent me down the Google rabbit hole about something called "ghost guns," which just opened up more questions. Here are a couple of those questions, and their answers.

Is It Legal to Design a Firearm Using A 3D Printer?

The short (and shocking) answer is yes. According to The Trace, technological advancements have made it possible to print many types of firearms. Under current U.S. law, the chassis of a firearm is one of the only parts that requires a federal background check when you purchase it from a licensed dealer. But some people are now printing 'lower receivers' at home, and purchasing kits that don't require a background check, yet they include all the necessary components. These weapons are known as 'ghost guns'.

Are Ghost Guns Legal in Michigan?

As long as the person has no prior convictions prohibiting them from owning firearms under the Gun Control Act of 1968, 3D printing privately-made firearms is legal.

As for Michigan, there are efforts being made to curb the dissemination of ghost guns. This February 2021 press release from Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel describes our state government's fight against Defense Distributed, a company that distributes 3D-printed gun files online. The press release states that this company is illegally printing and distributing these files for some time now. It seems it's up to the states to put legislation in place to stop this, and Michigan has yet to do so.

If I'm being honest, I am floored by this. When I think of 3D printers, I think of the Big Bang Theory episode where Raj and Howard bought one to make 'action figures' of themselves. Never once did the thought of creating a firearm ever cross my mind.

We can only hope that new laws will be passed to regulate this new industry in a better and safer way.  But until then, be safe, smart, and careful out there.

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