State Politics

Gun-rights advocates hope to build weapons at Capitol

In this May 10, 2013 photo, Cody Wilson holds what he calls a Liberator pistol that was completely made on a 3-D-printer at his home in Austin. With the advent of 3-D printers capable of producing plastic weapons, the House voted on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013, to renew a 25-year-old prohibition against firearms that can evade metal detectors and X-ray machines. Wilson, founder of Defense Distributed, a nonprofit that advocates the free distribution of information on 3-D printed weapons, posted blueprints online for using the printers to make the pistol which he says he designed, before being ordered by the State Department to take them down after two days. He now is part of a demonstration planned for next week at the Texas Capitol. (AP Photo/Austin American Statesman, Jay Janner)
In this May 10, 2013 photo, Cody Wilson holds what he calls a Liberator pistol that was completely made on a 3-D-printer at his home in Austin. With the advent of 3-D printers capable of producing plastic weapons, the House voted on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013, to renew a 25-year-old prohibition against firearms that can evade metal detectors and X-ray machines. Wilson, founder of Defense Distributed, a nonprofit that advocates the free distribution of information on 3-D printed weapons, posted blueprints online for using the printers to make the pistol which he says he designed, before being ordered by the State Department to take them down after two days. He now is part of a demonstration planned for next week at the Texas Capitol. (AP Photo/Austin American Statesman, Jay Janner) AP

Second Amendment advocates plan to manufacture guns at the Texas Capitol during an armed rally set for the opening day of the 2015 legislative session Tuesday.

Come and Take It Texas announced this week that it has bought “the Ghost Gunner,” a machine that uses 3-D technology to build firearms, for Tuesday’s event. Participants had already planned to carry rifles and shotguns to protest the state’s gun laws.

“Things just got a little more interesting on the 13th,” an organizer wrote on the group’s Facebook page.

The Ghost Gunner can make the lower receiver of an AR-15. The machine, which produces designs in metal instead of plastic like a typical 3-D printer, was invented by Austin-based gun-rights activist Cody Wilson. Wilson, whose nonprofit Defense Distributed sells the Ghost Gunner for about $1,500, created the world’s first 3-D printable gun in 2013.

The rally, held in support of a bill filed by Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, is part of a push to scrap the state’s handgun-licensing requirements during the legislative session. Stickland did not respond to a request for comment.

Gun-rights supporters are divided over the use of armed rallies to raise awareness of their cause. Some view the tactic — which has featured protesters carrying assault rifles and other weapons in city streets — as overly aggressive. The possible 3-D printing of firearms at such a rally has added another layer of controversy.

At a second rally planned in January by Open Carry Texas, participants will have empty holsters instead of firearms. The group’s founder, C.J. Grisham, said Tuesday that he had reached out to the other event’s organizers and asked them not to use the Ghost Gunner.

“I don’t understand the purpose of it,” Grisham said. “It seems confrontational and … needless. I mean it’s the first day of the Legislature. We are this close to getting open carry passed, and now these guys want to come and manufacture a firearm on the steps of the Capitol? I just don’t get it.”

Plans for firearm manufacturing at the rally also drew criticism from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a group that advocates for tighter gun control.

“If this type of extreme behavior is happening now, what will Texas look like without any kind of reasonable licensing requirement at all, which is their ultimate goal?” said Claire Elizabeth, the president of the group’s Texas chapter.

Come and Take It Texas did not respond to a request for comment.

Texas, which allows the public display of long guns like rifles and shotguns, legalized the concealed carrying of handguns with a license in 1995. It is one of six states that specifically prohibit openly carrying handguns, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Stickland’s measure is among several targeting handgun restrictions, but it is the only one that proposes lifting licensing requirements altogether.

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