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How a 3D Printer Exposed Gun Buyback Hypocrisy

The state of New York has been forced to change the rules for its gun buyback program after a creative activist claimed to have exposed the absurdity of gun buybacks by “selling” 3D printed components to the state at a massive profit. In a way, he was printing his own money.

The story unfolded when a West Virginia man, who has so far successfully withheld his identity, travelled to Ithaca New York in late August for a gun buyback event. He believed he had found a loophole in the program rules that would allow him to demonstrate that these events are, in his opinion, little more than fan service for left wing activists that have virtually no effect on crime while wasting tax money.

3d Printed Lower Receivers
3d Printed Plastic Lower Receivers with no Serial Numbers are considered “Ghost Guns”

Before his road trip, he 3d printed 110 lower receivers in plastic and took them into the police station. He was able to convince the cops to trade a few dollars’ worth of dried resin for $21,000 in gift cards! He even received a $100 bonus for turning in “ghost gun parts” since they didn’t have serial numbers, turning the rules on themselves.

According to new laws passed in August 2022, lower receiver kits can be considered a firearm and are therefore regulated under federal law and require a serial number. Receivers without a serial number are now considered “ghost guns.”

The lower receiver outlined on a gun
The lower receiver of a firearm

Contacted by a reporter via email, the trickster stated that, “…the people running this event are horribly uneducated about guns, gun crime and the laws surrounding the regulation of guns.”

He added that gun buyback programs in the age of 3D printing are, “ridiculously stupid.”

Letitia James District Attorney
Dist. Attorney Letitia James

In response to this embarrassment, New York’s liberal Democrat District Attorney Letitia James’ office, who sponsored the event along with the Ithaca Police Department, wrote:

“It’s shameful that this individual exploited a program that has successfully taken thousands of guns off the streets to protect our communities from gun violence.”

But do they?

Economics Professor Mark Anderson of Montana State University recently co-published a study with the National Bureau of Economic Research that told a different story.

According to their study, even without the 3D printing problem, gun buybacks tend to take place in low crime areas, offer too little money, and take in older and non-functioning weapons. In fact, the research shows that these events have no impact on homicide or suicide rates within the jurisdictions of the buyback programs.

Despite the complete lack of evidence of their effectiveness, the New York State Attorney’s Office has continued to run gun buyback programs for a decade, wasting millions of dollars that could otherwise go to effective programs shown to reduce violence.

None the less, AG James announced that, in response to this story, going forward officials will have greater discretion to determine the value of the weapons received. They will also require that all 3D parts turned in must be capable of firing more than a single shot.

While this may seem like treating a gun shot wound with a bandage, James and other left wing activists will continue to seek praise for these dubious programs while taxpayers flip the bill.

Despite all of this, NY Dist. Attorney James still considered the event a success:

“296 firearms, including 177 ghost guns, were turned in to law enforcement at a gun buyback event hosted by her office and the Utica Police Department.”

However, she failed to announce to the public that ⅔ of those ghost guns were plastic parts.

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