So you want to buy a machine gun.

Since I’m a lawyer and a gun enthusiast, I occasionally field questions like “Can I buy a machine gun?” or “Are silencers legal?” from friends and family members. And like so many other questions, the answer is almost always “Maybe.”

Federal law prohibits certain individuals from possessing any firearms (under the applicable laws, a silencer counts as a firearm by itself, which is linguistically and logically silly). The list includes felons, fugitives, illegal drug users, those who have been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence, and those under certain restraining orders. For the whole rogue’s gallery, see 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). States have similar prohibitions against certain people possessing firearms. And individual states may also regulate gun ownership for those who aren’t prohibited outright from owning guns. For example, New York bans the possession of machine guns but allows other guns. In Massachusetts, would-be gun owners must complete a licensing process. On the other hand, some states take a much more permissive view of gun ownership. I happen to live in a free state, and I’m most familiar with Louisiana law, so I’ll focus on it. Continue reading

Can You Run Me Off a Gun?

This post is not legal advice; it’s only my opinion. And unless you’ve retained me by a signed contract after an in-person consultation, I’m not your lawyer. If you’re considering printing this project, hire a lawyer who knows the area of law — both federal law and your particular state/county/city/whatever’s law) and consult him. Or better yet: buy a lower. It’s cheaper than hiring a lawyer and probably more fun!


Now onto the interesting stuff.

Recently, a Thingiverse user posted a file that can be printed on a 3d printer to create a (theoretically) functional AR-15 lower receiver. This upset some members of the Thingiverse community, as you can see from the lively discussion on the project page. Tech  Crunch covered the controversy and asked a few important questions. Is printing a gun the same as buying a gun? Is the printed lower receiver a weapon? Is it a part? Is it Illegal?

In short, no, printing a gun isn’t the same as buying one because the user is a manufacturer instead of a consumer. The lower receiver is still a firearm under federal law (and probably state law) as opposed to being just a part. And, finally, printing a lower is not prohibited under federal law for those allowed to own firearms, but your state’s law may vary. Continue reading