Want to build a 3D printed gun? You won't in Erie County's libraries

Aug 6, 2018

New York is one of several states now suing the federal government and the founder of a Texas company that offers blueprints to produce 3D printed guns. While the long-running dispute over gun rights takes a new twist, a Buffalo institution that provides access to 3D printers makes clear you'll not be allowed to try it in their space.


In late July, the federal government cleared the way for a Texas company, Defense Distributed, to publish its blueprints for 3D guns. Last week, New York State joined a lawsuit to prevent widespread distribution of 3D printed gun blueprints. A federal judge ruled to halt the distribution of such plans, but not until some already got online.

Kendall Tubb, senior page at the Buffalo and Erie County Library downtown branch, assists a visitor using one of the 3-D printers available for public use.
Credit Michael Mroziak, WBFO

The Buffalo and Erie County Public Library's central branch in downtown Buffalo offers access to 3D printers and hosts a program through which users may sign up and, after some instructions, produce their desired objects.

"Most people are downloading things like gadgets or gizmos," said Mary Jean Jakubowski, director of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library. "We've had figurines, we've had chess pieces made, we've had some really wonderful things. We've had people come in and do vacuum cleaner parts. We had someone come in and do a part for a motorcycle one time!"

But it's made clear from the moment a user signs up, producing weapons or components is prohibited. Guns aren't allowed inside the library and there's a code of conduct to which patrons are held, Jakubowski explained. 

Even if someone wanted to print a gun on the sly, the printers located within the library are in open view of other patrons and library staff.

"Our procedures for the 3D printers are very clear. We do have a line that says printing weapons, sexually explicit materials and other items that contravene the library's rules of conduct are not allowed," Jakubowsk said."

Another prohibitor could be the simple cost. The library charges five cents per gram of materials used to create printed objects. Furthermore, Jakubowski adds, the printers they provide are small to medium in size.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, in response to the injuction ordered last week, issued a written statement: "The federal judge's preliminary injunction against the distribution of 3D gun plans is a critical and lifesaving victory in our fight to keep people safe in New York and across this nation. This federal government's frightening move to allow the unchecked distribution of 3D gun plans would make the chronic problem of gun violence even worse, and it must be stopped.

"In New York, we are proud to have the strongest gun safety laws in the nation and we refuse to let the federal government take us backwards. New York joined with other states to sue the federal government and today we took new actions to keep dangerous untraceable 3D guns out of our state. We will not sit idly by as the Trump administration puts the lives of New Yorkers at risk."