Bill to ban 3-D printing of guns advances

City Council's Public Safety Committee today approved a bill that would ban the use of 3-D printing of guns in Philadelphia. 

"You can use certain types of plastics and certain types of other material to replicate anything," said Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, who sponsored the bill. "What will happen if someone used one of these 3-D printers on a personal use, which we are seeing now, to create an actual firearm? That could be something thats catastrophic."

The possibility of people using 3-D printers, a new technology, to produce weapons raised eyebrows after the Texas group Defense Distributed posted a video in May of a Star Wars-like plastic gun being used. Many fear that the guns could allow criminals or terrorists to evade metal detectors.

In the past, some city ordinances regarding firearms have been struck down because, in Pennsylvania, state law preempts cities' when it comes to guns. But Johnson said that won't be a problem in this case.

"The prohibition that city ordinances can't overcome as it relates to state legislation is primarily ownership, transfer of a firearm. This goes to manufacturing," he said. "We've spoken with the Law Department. We believe that if there is a challenge in the court system, it will be something we'll be able to defeat."

The Philadelphia Police Department testified in support of the measure.

The bill was advanced unanimously by Council members Johnson, Curtis Jones Jr., Jannie Blackwell and Denny O'Brien.