Texas Man Attempts to Circumvent Gun Ban with 3D Printed Gun
One of the oft repeated phrases for pro-gun advocates is that we do not need more gun control laws, we simply need to enforce the ones that we already have. The case of Eric Gerard McGinnis is a perfect example of how the proper application of existing gun laws can keep firearms out of the hands of bad guys. That is, until the bad guy makes his own gun and plans a vendetta against politicians.
Taking Guns out of McGinnis’ Hands
A Texas judge barred McGinnis from possessing a firearm or ammunition for two years through a protective order in 2015 after a domestic violence incident with his live in girlfriend. The next year McGinnis tried to buy a gun from a federally licensed gun store in June of 2016 but his purchase was rejected after the background check revealed the court order against him. Not only was McGinnis denied the ability to purchase the weapon, the ATF reminded McGinnis he wasn’t allowed to have firearms.
Undeterred, McGinnis decided to get around the background check by making his own gun, an AR-15. In the United States the lower receiver, the firing mechanism part of the weapon, is the only part that needs to be registered and stamped with a serial number. All of the other parts such as the barrel, stock, upper receiver, and grip can all be purchased without a background check. McGinnis was able to purchase these parts legally without consequence but he would not be able to buy a lower receiver.
3D Printing His Own Gun
McGinnis had a solution; he would simply make his own lower receiver. McGinnis used a 3d-Printer to print a lower receiver and he assembled a fully functioning AR-15 all without having to undergo a background check and without alerting authorities to what he was doing. McGinnis’ assault rifle had no way of being traced since none of the parts had serial numbers, what is often referred to as a ‘ghost gun.’
He had also developed a strong interest in James Hodgkinson, the man who in 2017 used a rifle and a handgun to shoot at Republican congressmen during a charity baseball game practice. McGinnis then put together a list he had labeled “9/11/2001 list of American Terrorists” which listed the names and home and office addresses of both Democrat and Republican lawmakers and headed outside of Dallas to test his new assault rifle in the woods.
Arrest and Sentencing
That test turned out to be his downfall. Officers who just happened to be in the area on an unrelated call heard three shots and investigated finding McGinnis with a backpack that had the list and the gun inside. McGinnis was arrested, found guilty of possessing an unregistered short barrel rifle and unlawfully possessing ammunition while under an active protective order. He was sentenced to eight years in prison by Chief U.S. District Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn. McGinnis only had a month left on his protective order when he was arrested for his federal offense.
The fact that someone can create an untraceable assault rifle is alarming to many. Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives pushed two gun control bills through the Judiciary Committee that would expand federal firearm background checks and extend the time to complete background checks from 3 days to 10 days. The two bills look unlikely to survive in the Senate but they represent the first attempted gun control measures attempted at the federal level in years. It may also be foreshadowing of future gun control legislation with the case of Mr. McGinnis serving as a cautionary tale of the gaps in the current federal firearm laws.