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Lawmaker Wants To Bar 3-D Printing Of Guns Without Federal License

CHICAGO (CBS) -- As 3-D printing technology grows more and more sophisticated, an Illinois lawmaker wants to make it illegal to use a 3-D printer to make firearms, or gun parts, unless you have a federal gun manufacturer's license.

"A gun is a gun; it doesn't matter if it's built on an assembly line or in a 3-D printer. New technology has created a loophole and this plan closes it," state Sen. Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago) said in a news release.

Silverstein introduced the proposed ban on 3-D printing of firearms in the Illinois Senate last week. Under the measure, only someone with a Federal Firearms License could manufacture guns with a 3-D printer.

Doing so might seem far-fetched, but it's not just a fantasy. Last November, Texas-based 3D-printing services company Solid Concepts boasted it had made a working metal handgun with a 3D printer, using a laser sintering process – which binds powdered material together into a solid structure.

However, National Rifle Association lobbyist Todd Vandermyde said the proposed legislation introduced by Silverstein is seeking to fix a problem that doesn't exist.

"It's much ado about nothing right now," he said. "You've got a fictitious problem that legislators are trying to gin up a bunch of media frenzy about, and they're trying to put a crimp on manufacturing as an industry, as development of firearms and parts."

Vandermyde said the measure is more reaction to a federal court ruling that forced Illinois to enact concealed carry legislation. Last year, state lawmakers approved legislation allowing Illinois residents to carry concealed firearms with a permit, though the first permits have yet to be issued. Illinois was the last state in the U.S. to allow concealed carry.

Vandermyde said building and customizing your own firearms is fun.

"From the grips, the stocks, colors, the sights, you name it. It's kind of like a Mr. Potato Head. You get to put what you want on it," he said.

However, Vandermyde said gun control measures like this one that anti-gun lawmakers have introduced lately are just sour grapes over losing the fight over concealed carry.

"The anti-gunners are still reeling from the shellacking they took in the last session," Vandermyde said. "You have a certain group of individuals that probably should be seeking mental health treatment for their denial."

Several proposals have been introduced to the Illinois General Assembly to either tighten or loosen the restrictions to the concealed carry law, even though no permits have yet been issued. However, state Rep. Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg) has said none of those proposals are likely to go anywhere, at least until the current law has gone into full effect.

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