Though a federal judge has temporarily blocked the dissemination of blueprints showing how to make guns using 3-D printers, it remains legal for people to make their own firearms at home without a license, a rare practice but one that the government cannot fully monitor, reports the Washington Post. Federal law allows people who are not prohibited from owning firearms to manufacture them for personal use. Some types of guns, including those with short barrels, require a tax and approval from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. A license is required to make guns for sale or distribution. It is unclear how many do-it-yourself guns are made each year, because many of them are not registered and most parts do not carry serial numbers that enable tracking.
Gun enthusiasts say making firearms at home is a hobby like building a car engine, a way to learn about the intricacies of the machine rather than creating something for regular use. Gun-control advocates say the ability to make guns is a major legal loophole that could allow for people who cannot legally own a gun to circumvent a background check and get a firearm. It is illegal to make a gun that cannot be detected by a metal detector or X-ray machine. Plastic guns also are illegal, making it possible that some 3-D-printed guns that do not contain metal could violate the law. People are prohibited from making a non-sporting semiautomatic rifle or shotgun from 10 or more imported parts. “People like to learn. I think a lot of people like to do things themselves. People like to do home projects and change stuff around on their house; why wouldn’t they want to do the same thing with their vehicles or their firearms?” said Brandon Combs of the Firearms Policy Coalition.