3D-Printed Gun Maker Sentenced To 8 Years In Prison The man printed the gun after a background check stopped him from purchasing a firearm legally. His sentencing comes as lawmakers around the country are trying to expand background check requirements.
NPR logo Texas Man With 3D-Printed Gun And 'Hit List' Of Lawmakers Sentenced To 8 Years

Texas Man With 3D-Printed Gun And 'Hit List' Of Lawmakers Sentenced To 8 Years

A 3D-printed gun called the Liberator. A man was sentenced to eight years in prison Wednesday for violating a court order after he printed his own 3D gun. Eric Gay/AP hide caption

toggle caption
Eric Gay/AP

A 3D-printed gun called the Liberator. A man was sentenced to eight years in prison Wednesday for violating a court order after he printed his own 3D gun.

Eric Gay/AP

Eric Gerard McGinnis was not supposed to have a gun. After a violent altercation with his girlfriend, a Texas judge barred him in 2015 from possessing a firearm. A year later, McGinnis tried to buy a gun anyway, but the purchase wouldn't go through after a background check revealed the court order.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, McGinnis obtained a barrel, stock, upper receiver and grip — and then used a 3D printer to create the gun's firing mechanism. He assembled the parts into a short-barrel AR-15 style rifle and headed out into the woods with what federal attorneys called a "hit list" of Democratic and Republican lawmakers, including their office and home addresses. The list was titled, "9/11/2001 list of American Terrorists."

McGinnis was arrested in 2017 after officers heard three shots in the woods. On Wednesday, he was sentenced to eight years in prison.

"When he realized he couldn't legally purchase a firearm, Eric McGinnis circumvented our gun laws by 3D-printing his weapon, eliminating the need for a background check," said Erin Nealy Cox, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas.

While McGinnis was being sentenced in Texas, Democrats in the House of Representatives were attempting to make good on their promise to tighten gun laws. The Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved two bills expanding background checks for gun purchases. Those laws would require checks even at gun shows or in private sales. According to Politico, the legislation "stands virtually no chance in the Senate," which is controlled by Republicans.

McGinnis' attempt to legally purchase a firearm was stymied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. But legislation proposed this week in the Senate deals directly with 3D printable guns. A group of Democrats proposed a law that would maintain current laws against publishing 3D-printed gun information over the Internet.

The Senate Democrats criticized President Trump's proposal to transfer oversight of 3D guns to the Commerce Department, arguing that would make it easier for people to get access to blueprints.

"The Trump administration basically gave anyone – including criminals and murderers – a green light to 3D print and sell untraceable 'ghost guns,'" said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., according to The Washington Examiner. "Thankfully, the courts have blocked this for now, but Congress needs to act to close this glaring loophole before anyone gets killed."

It's not just Congress that is considering gun legislation. In New Hampshire on Wednesday, state lawmakers considered multiple bills that would expand background checks to close the so-called "gun show loophole"; impose a seven-day waiting period for most firearm sales; and prohibit possession of firearms at school zones throughout the state.

In Nevada, the state Senate approved a bill designed to close the gun show loophole. According to the Reno Gazette Journal, all eight members of the Republican minority party opposed the bill, arguing the law was a "feel-good" measure being passed for political reasons.