Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD — A bill introduced last week in the Illinois House would add several layers of state regulation to the production and distribution of 3D-printed and home-assembled guns and parts.
Rep. Kathleen Willis, D-Addison, filed House Bill 2253, which would penalize as a Class 2 felony: the possession of an unserialized firearm that has been 3D-printed or self-assembled; distribution of downloadable firearm printing instructions unless the distributor performs background checks and procedures consistent with a legal gun transaction; and unlawful manufacture of an unserialized firearm.
Class 2 felonies are punishable by three to seven years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
“I’m not calling for a ban on them, I’m just saying that you need to have the same background checks as you would if you were going to purchase a regular gun at a gun dealer or a gun shop, and that means you have to have a valid FOID card,” Willis said.
The bill also requires a FOID card for anyone possessing “unfinished frames or receivers” defined in the bill as “a frame or lower receiver blank, casting, or machined body that requires further machining or molding to be used as part of a functional firearm.”
The unfinished receiver provision contains exceptions for “an unfinished part within a manufacturing process that includes serialization where the name of the manufacturer and an individual serial number.”
Willis said she understands gun assembly is a hobby for some, but she said unregulated, “untraceable” guns could be a dangerous tool.
Todd Vandermyde of the Federal Firearms Licensees of Illinois, a lobbyist on behalf of gun sellers, called the bill an attempt to criminalize the distribution of information, which goes against not only the Second Amendment, but also the First.
“It makes it illegal to digitally share files and blueprints, so if you’re trying to get a custom part made and you need to have a blueprint of a part made and you try to transmit that via a PDF or a drawing or with the actual code, this criminalizes the sharing of that information,” he said.
Vandermyde said there are already federal regulations in place that the bill duplicates. Willis’ bill requires any 3D-printed gun to contain enough metal to be caught by a metal detector, a provision Vandermyde said is already on federal books.
He also said that the criminalization of self-assembled guns without serial numbers is problematic, because hobbyists are already prevented from selling or trading homemade guns, the activity serial numbers are designed to track.
“Now she’s trying to make it illegal for the home hobbyist to own or possess firearms they’ve made,” he said. “They’re going after an industry and a hobby and lawful gun owners.”
But Willis said the bill didn’t ban any weapons or go after FOID card holders. Her aim was to add a layer of regulation to otherwise untracked weapons.
“It’s not that expensive to buy a 3D printer right now,” she said. “And if we’re trying to cut down on illegal gun trafficking and illegal guns out there, if we don’t have some protections in there to prevent these from getting in the wrong hands, why bother?”
But Vandermyde said there’s been no proof that self-manufactured guns are used in crime, and the bill does not have any language to curtail actual sources of gun violence.
“If they want to talk about going after felons in possession of firearms they shouldn’t have, we’re more than happy to sit down and talk about and work on that,” Vandermyde said. “But any bill we have seen that they want to go after, goes after the industry, goes after federal firearms licensees and goes after the law-abiding gun owner.”
The Illinois Rifle Association is opposed to the bill as well, listing it on its website among eight bills it opposes this legislative session.
A spokesperson for the Illinois State Police said the agency is still reviewing the final bill before taking a position.