Someone walked out of a gun buyback event in Houston, Tex. with more than $3,000 after unloading a box of over 50 3D-printed guns, according to local officials and media reports.
The “no questions asked” event was the first of its kind in Houston, offering residents Visa gift cards of $50 – $200 for each gun they turned in. So naturally, someone used a 3D printer and freely-available schematics to fabricate dozens of so-called “ghost guns”—and turned a tidy profit.
News of the hustle spread on social media, along with photos of the homemade gun haul. Some of the DIY guns pictured don’t even seem to be full guns—many appear to just be lower receivers, the part of a firearm that is regulated and considered a “gun” under the law.
Some social media users mocked the buyback program for allowing such an obvious loophole, while others argued that using cheaply-made plastic firearms to take money from the government is good, actually.
The man who sold the guns claims his intentions were different, however.
“The goal was not personal profit, but to send [Houston leaders] a message about spending 1 million tax dollars on something that has no evidence of any effect on crime,” the man told local news reporters.
Despite it being cheap and generally pretty damn easy to get a gun in most states, homemade firearms have been surging across the US. According to statistics released in April by the Department of Justice, authorities have recovered around 45,000 “privately made firearms” since 2016.
Nevertheless, local officials in Houston praised the program as a success, while noting that the next event will have to include restrictions that disqualify homemade firearms.
“The community response was robust and we also learned that in future gun buybacks, we will need to establish some guidelines regarding Privately Manufactured Firearms,” a spokesperson from the mayor’s office wrote in a statement sent to local media outlets. “These firearms can come in many styles and configurations and thus, in the future, we will communicate well in advance if PMFs will be accepted during the buyback program. This program was not designed to establish a place for PMFs to be profitable but rather to get unwanted firearms off the streets of Houston that could become crime guns.”
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