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CNY Gun Control Expert: 3-D "Ghost" Guns Could Pose Public Safety Threat


A gun control expert from SUNY Cortland is worried that homemade 3-D guns have the potential to undermine law enforcement and pose a threat to public safety. 

Attorneys General from New York, seven other states, and the District of Columbia are suing the Trump administration for allowing people to print their own guns, sometimes called Ghost Guns.  These weapons are untraceable and can be made by anyone, which Dr. Bob Spitzer says is a public concern.

“Who would be interested in guns like this? Well, criminals, terrorists, anti-government extremists,” Spitzer said. “It’s hard to imagine why a typical, responsible gun-owner would be interested in manufacturing and using their own guns. Certainly cost might be an issue. But their utility would not be as great as with a factory manufactured firearm.”

Ghost Guns may also be obtained by those who do not pass  federal mental health screening.

On Sunday, the current administration reversed a decision from the Obama administration prohibiting a Texas non-profit from publishing blueprints for downloadable guns online.  Spitzer says the 3-D plans have been available for quite some time, but there’s no way to know how many have been made.  

“It’s impossible to know how many of them are out there, or were manufactured up until recent times, for the obvious reason that there is no protocol for anybody finding out what these guns are, and who has them,” Spitzer said. “There can’t be that many just because the technology is new, it’s fairly rarefied. There aren’t that many people interested in these sort of things.”

Spitzer argues other concerns include more criminals finding out about this accessibility, prices dropping and technology improving. 

“3-D guns do not have the durability of a regular gun made out of the typical materials that firearms are made out of, and that’s one of the limitations," Spitzer said. “But here again, as technology has improved, and the materials available, and the ability of 3-D printers to work with more permanent type of materials improves, part of the concern is that these firearms will be more durable.”

The federal lawsuit is arguing the Trump administration not only violated the Administrative Procedure Act, but also the Tenth Amendment, which allows states to regulate their own gun policies. 

Late Tuesday, a federal judge granted a motion for a temporary restraining order blocking the Trump Administration from allowing the distribution of materials to easily 3-D print guns.  In a statement, NY Attorney General Barbara Undwerwood called it a major victory for common sense and public safety.

"As we argued in the suit we filed yesterday [Monday], it is – simply – crazy to give criminals the tools to build untraceable, undetectable 3-D printed guns at the touch of a button. Yet that's exactly what the Trump administration decided to allow."

The lawsuit filed by the Attorneys General remains ongoing.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at