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TSA Reveals It's Found Multiple 3D Printed Guns at Security Checkpoints

Aug. 02, 2018
2 min read
TSA Reveals It's Found Multiple 3D Printed Guns at Security Checkpoints
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One day after a federal judge temporarily blocked 3D printed gun blueprints from being distributed on the internet, CBS News has learned that the TSA has caught a handful of 3D printed guns at airport security checkpoints.

Since 2016, the TSA says there have been at least four "incidents" with 3D printed guns or gun parts at airport security checkpoints.

A 3D printed firearm and five rounds of .22-caliber ammunition were found at Reno-Tahoe Airport (RNO) in a carry-on bag in August 2016. Another 3D printed gun was discovered in a person's carry-on luggage in May 2017 at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in New Hampshire (MHT). Both firearms were voluntarily abandoned.

There were two other reports of 3D printed parts for a rifle's lower receiver stopped at Las Vegas' (LAS) airport. The gun parts were also left with the TSA.

This news comes on the heels of the TSA considering the complete elimination of security checkpoints at smaller, regional airports.

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Every year, the TSA finds thousands of normal guns at airports — in 2017 the government agency confiscated nearly 4,000 firearms at airport checkpoints.

3D printed guns are typically made of polymer substances although most need metal parts to function properly. Because the weapons are mostly composed of plastic could make it more difficult for metal detectors to discover them.

"TSA Officers are trained and on the lookout for 3D guns," TSA Assistant Administrator Michael Bilello said in a statement to CBS News. "We have proven detection capabilities and screening protocols in place. In the world of airport and aviation security, 'a gun is a gun.'"

When asked about if the TSA is implementing methods to detect 3D printed weapons, the agency pointed TPG to this statement on their website:

[The] TSA has determined that these items can—and have been— detected at the security checkpoint. Our officers are trained to look for and detect threats, including artfully concealed weapons, and through use of sophisticated technology, including Advanced Imaging Technology, can detect non-metallic items concealed on a passenger.

In the same statement the TSA said that 3D printed firearms are treated like normal guns and must be transported in checked luggage in accordance with federal regulations or else be subject to penalties and prosecution.