Now Illinois Anti-Gunners Go After Making Legal Firearms at Home

80% lowers would likely become a thing of the past in Illinois if they get their way

Published Friday, February 8, 2019
Gun Rights Watch article by GRW Chief Editor

HB2253 in Illinois, just announced yesterday, seeks to make illegal the manufacture of firearms in the home or elsewhere for personal use and not predicated upon whether the firearm is intended for sale. It should be noted that this activity has long been recognized as one that is constitutionally protected by both the ATF and courts across the country. Also included is language banning 3D printed firearms.

This bill would be enacted by modifying the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act, requiring anyone machining out at 80% lower or 3D printing a firearm of any kind to be in possession of an Illinois FOID card, although the bill effectively makes manufacturing illegal unless you're an FFL, as we show below. The bill uses the terms "unfinished frame or receiver" and "undetectable firearm" for legal purposes.

The anti-gunners will probably claim that this is not an outright ban. As we've seen so often in the past though, gun bans tend to be incremental in nature. First, they regulate them, then when gun homicide rates fail to drop (and we know that this bill will obviously have no effect on homicide rates), then come the calls for the outright bans.

One question that comes to mind is, what will they use as justification for prosecution? If they raid your house and find your son's play cap gun, will they try to claim that it could be machined out into a functional firearm? It might be a stretch, but stretches have never been anything that disqualifies the state from egregiously trying to over-prosecute anyone they didn't like. This is Illinois, and they don't care about what your intentions actually were — it's only ever been about what they could get away with claiming at your trial.

Undetectable and Untraceable Firearms Provision

The end of the bill contains 4½ pages of new legal mumbo jumbo about exactly what constitutes an undetectable or untraceable firearm, and what the penalties for possession of one would be.

Here are the parts we found alarming:

  • It defines "Downloadable firearm" as a firearm manufactured or produced using "additive manufacturing", which is in turn defined as one "in which the material is added in order to produce the product, including, but not limited to, three-dimensional printing, in which layers of material are laid down in succession."
    So what's the problem with this? It could exclude manufacturing processes that have nothing at all to do with 3D printing. If you build your gun using some kind of a layering process, regardless of whether you used a 3D printer or not... well, welcome to your new life in a prison jumpsuit.
  • You'd need to be an FFL in order to 3D print any "Downloadable firearm". Simply having an FOID card won't cut it. In addition, you'll have to jump through all of the other hoops any FFL has to in order to produce the firearm, such as serialization and record keeping, as well as background checks of the purchaser.
  • Making a plastic undetectable firearm would be a federal felony already anyways, so much of what this law does is redundant from the word go.
    One possible solution? Drive a wood screw into the bottom of it so it'll show up on any metal detector. But don't take our word for it; we're not lawyers and we're not offering legal advice here.

  • "Untraceable firearms" are simply any guns without a serial number. Own an antique firearm that never had a serial number? Welcome to prison!
  • Since you need an FFL to engrave the serial number on the gun, it's possible to make the argument that you now would simply not legally be able to manufacture your own gun at all from an 80% lower, unless it already came with a serial number — but we don't know if that's even possible. Since the newly manufactured gun would exist for a short time with no serial number at all until it got to the FFL to engrave it, it would then be a felony to manufacture it all in the first place.