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West Virginia Man's 3D-Printed Gun Parts Earn Him Thousands At NY Buyback Program

A small plastic part earned him $21,000

New York Attorney General Letitia James has been forced to redraw the rules governing the state’s gun buyback program after it became evident that at least one individual had been manufacturing cheap parts with a hobbyist’s 3D printer before selling them to the state as firearm parts.

With a $200 3D printer, a 6-hour drive, and material to print with, a West Virginia man managed to earn himself $21,000 while a friend of his was able to earn close to an additional $6,000. Upon hearing about a gun buyback program being run in New York, the pair set about manufacturing cheap firearm accessories and 3D-printed guns in order to sell them for a profit. In the end, Kem, who uses a pseudonym online and says he negotiated with personnel from the program for much of the day, was allowed to leave with his prize.

The man, who spoke to the Associated Press but did not use his real name, said that while the profit factored into his decision to run the campaign, he was primarily motivated to teach policymakers a lesson about the effectiveness of buyback programs.

On Twitter, Kem celebrated his success with photos of his 3D-printed creations alongside his collection of prepaid debit cards. “F*** gun control,” he wrote. “Scam the s*** out of your local gun buyback.”

Speaking about his scheme in an episode of the podcast Shouse In The House, Kem explained that he quickly manufactured a small plastic part called an auto sear. Auto sears are two-inch-sized plastic inserts that allow a rifle that was manufactured as a semiautomatic to behave like an automatic.

According to the rules of the buyback program, each of the plastic parts qualified as a ghost gun since it lacked any serial number. Ghost gun returns were granted a premium of $100 in addition to the $250 each auto sear was worth.

He then sold 60 of these sears for a total of $21,000. Last week, the state’s attorney general’s office issued the following statement in response to the scheme, vowing that the rules had been modified to prevent further exploitation:

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. We have partnered with local police throughout the state to recover more than 3,500 guns, and one individual’s greedy behavior won’t tarnish our work to promote public safety. We have adjusted our policies to be sure that no one can exploit this program again for personal gain.

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