To Address the Threat Posed by Untraceable Firearms Made Through 3D Printing and Unfinished Frames and Receivers

To Address the Threat Posed by Untraceable Firearms Made Through 3D Printing and Unfinished Frames and Receivers


Submitted by: Firearms Committee



WHEREAS, firearms tracing is a powerful investigative tool that is dependent on the firearm’s serial number; and


WHEREAS, law enforcement uses a firearm’s serial number to trace the firearm through the chain of distribution to the first retail purchaser, and trace information provided by ATF has led to the identification and prosecution of thousands of criminals; and


WHEREAS, ATF was asked by law enforcement domestically and abroad over 400,000 times in 2017 alone to trace a firearm recovered in a crime; and


WHEREAS, it is already recognized as a serious criminal offense subject to five years imprisonment to possess a firearm with the serial number removed, obliterated, or altered; and


WHEREAS, only federally licensed firearms manufacturers and importers are currently required by federal law to put a serial number on the frame or receiver of a firearm they manufacture or import, enabling it to be traced; and


WHEREAS, ATF treats the frame or receiver of a firearm as a firearm only if it has reached a certain stage of manufacture; and


WHEREAS, unfinished frames or receivers, known as “receiver blanks” or “80% receivers,” have become commercially available, and enable the assembly of “ghost guns”—firearms without genuine, unique and traceable serial numbers; and 


WHEREAS, ghost guns have been recovered after shooting incidents, from gang members and from prohibited people after they have been used to commit crimes; and


WHEREAS, in July 2018, the Los Angeles Police Department completed a 6- month-long investigation that resulted in the seizure of 45 firearms, some of which were untraceable ghost guns; and


WHEREAS, on June 7, 2013, an assailant who had failed a background check when he tried to purchase a gun used a ghost gun he had constructed himself from an unfinished AR-15-style receiver to kill his father, brother, and three other people at Santa Monica College in California; and


WHEREAS, three dimensional, or ‘‘3D’’ printing, involves the programming of a 3D printing machine with a computer file that provides the code for the item to be printed; and


WHEREAS, recent technological developments have allowed for the 3D printing of firearms and firearm parts, including parts made out of plastic, by unlicensed individuals in possession of relatively inexpensive 3D printers; and


WHEREAS, code exists for 3D printing an unfinished firearm frame or receiver that can be built into a functional firearm; and


WHEREAS, 3D-printed guns or guns made with 3D-printed receivers have been recovered by law enforcement as travelers attempted to transport the firearms through checkpoints; and


WHEREAS, firearms 3D-printed in plastic may be able to evade detection by metal detectors at security checkpoints, increasing the risk that a firearm will be used to perpetrate violence on an airplane or other area where people congregate; and


WHEREAS, the availability of online code for the 3D printing of firearms and firearm parts increases the risk that dangerous people, including felons, domestic abusers, and other people prohibited from possessing firearms under federal law, as well as terrorists and criminals around the world, will evade background check requirements and obtain a firearm through 3D printing; and


WHEREAS, if the code for 3D printing firearms and firearm parts are available online, people ineligible to possess firearms, and people intending to commit gun crimes, both domestically and abroad, may create untraceable firearms in order to avoid accountability for these crimes; and


WHEREAS, until recently, the State Department had considered the online posting of code for 3D printing firearms to be a violation of the Arms Export Control Act, as it would enable non-U.S. persons to assemble functional firearms; and


WHEREAS, the International Association of Chief of Police (IACP) recognizes that the easy availability of unfinished firearm frames and receivers, and the online availability of code for 3D printing firearms threatens to undermine state and federal gun laws and to endanger public safety and national security. Now, therefore be it


RESOLVED, that the IACP calls upon governments to use their authority to continue preventing the online posting of code for 3D printing firearms; and be it


FURTHER RESOLVED, that the IACP strongly supports legislation at both the state and federal levels to address the threat posed by untraceable firearms (e.g. ghost guns) , firearm frames and receivers requiring minimum finish work, and 3D printed firearms by ensuring that these firearms have proper serial numbers and are detectable at security checkpoints, and are subject to the same laws and regulations as firearms defined in the Gun Control Act of 1968.



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