An American man has admitted breaking the law by using 3D printers to make components that convert semi-automatic pistols to fully automatic pistols.
Kent Edward Newhouse, 41, a convicted felon from Jacksonville, Mississippi, pleaded guilty [PDF] two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm and one count of carrying on business as a manufacturer of firearms. He had made and sold automatic sears, which can be used to turn legal semi-automatic weapons into illegal full-automatic weapons.
Newhouse now faces up to 15 years behind bars and a $250,000 fine for each count of possession of a firearm, as well as up to 10 years and $250,000 for illegally making and selling weapons. fire arms.
According to court documents [PDF]an informant informed the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in April that Newhouse was attempting to 3D print and manufacture automatic triggers for Glock pistols.
A few months later, in July, Newhouse told the ATF informant that he had made several automatic triggers designed for AR-style pistols and rifles, and that he wanted to sell the devices. And to prove it, the convicted felon sent over four videos showing him firing two different fully automatic machine guns, according to the criminal complaint.
At this point, the Feds moved in to set up an undercover operation. On July 8, the confidential source caught up with Newhouse and recorded him talking about the sears automobiles he wanted to sell. We are told that the informant also “personally observed” a fully automatic AR gun, four automatic triggers for AR-type weapons, and two pistols.
A few days later, a meeting was called at Newhouse’s home to buy four automatic sears for $400.
“In this purchase, Newhouse sold to the Confidential Source an AR-type pistol with an automatic trigger attached and two additional automatic triggers for a total cost of $1,800,” according to court documents. “These items were later recovered by the ATF.”
Now detained and charged, Newhouse will be sentenced on December 2.
“The use of 3D printers to illegally manufacture firearms and to manufacture devices to convert semi-automatic firearms into machine guns poses a real and present threat to our communities,” the ATF Special Agent in Charge Kurt Thielhorn in a statement.
On August 24 of this year, an ATF rule targeting these types of homemade weapons came into effect. It is intended to combat “ghost weapons” – firearms that are assembled from kits or from manufacturers using 3D printers, do not contain serial numbers and are sold without background checks, making it difficult tracing for law enforcement and easy access for criminals.
US law enforcement recovered about 20,000 ghost weapons last year, according to the White House. Unsurprisingly, 3D printed weapons, like all types of illicit goods, are also bought and sold on dark web marketplaces.
“As 3D printing becomes more widespread and advanced, we expect these weapons to continue to increase in number and sophistication,” noted Adi Bleih, security researcher at Cybersixgill. “And the built-in anonymity of the dark web gives anyone the perfect place to acquire a ghost gun or get the information needed to build one.” ®