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Machine Guns Created By 3D Printer Sends Man to Prison for 14 Years

For illegally manufacturing machine guns using 3D printers a Jackson, Miss., man was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison. Kent Edward Newhouse, 41, already had a felony conviction, making it illegal for him to have firearms, USA Today reports. In 2022, he illegally possessed firearms and used 3D printers to manufacture a firearms component called an "auto sear," which turns a semi-automatic firearm into a fully automatic machine gun. Federal law designates auto sears as machine guns. "On July 13, 2022, Newhouse sold a confidential informant a firearm and several auto sears," the Justice Department said. Newhouse pleaded guilty to two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm and one count of engaging in business as a manufacturer of firearms. The auto sears Newhouse 3D printed are a type of conversion device that makes semi-automatic firearms act like machine guns that fire rapidly without the need to pull a trigger repeatedly. They're tiny metal or plastic pieces, the size of a dime, and quickly attached to the back of a semi-automatic.

Auto sears have been turning up more often in places like Louisville. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives reported 120 of the devices were confiscated in the city in the first nine months of 2022, compared to about a dozen in 2021 and none in 2020. “The use of 3D printers to unlawfully manufacture firearms, and to make devices to convert semiautomatic firearms into machine guns, poses a real and current threat to our communities," said ATF agent Kurt Thielhorn when Newhouse pleaded guilty. Last month, Congressional Democrats reintroduced legislation they hope will help authorities prevent the importation and trafficking of conversion devices such as auto sears, and report data about auto sears in federal firearms tracking reports. “Gun conversion devices can turn ordinary handguns into deadly automatic weapons in less than a minute. As we grapple with the epidemic of gun violence in this country, virtually unfettered access to these types of deadly firearms is exactly what we do not need,” said New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a cosponsor of the Preventing Illegal Weapons Trafficking Act of 2023.


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