The man, who identified himself only as “Kem,” explained how he printed a series of lower receivers and frames for different types of firearms on a $200 3D printer he received as a Christmas gift. He then drove six hours to Utica, where the police department was hosting a “community gun buyback” event on August 27.
According to a flyer for the event from New York State Attorney General Letitia James, people were invited to bring as many firearms as they wished to provide, with various price points offered for different types of firearms. Handguns received $150 in pre-paid gift cards at the site, with an additional $100 gift card being offered for any ghost or non-serialized guns.
Kem said that when he told them he had 110 firearms, it set off a negotiating session that lasted all day and culminated in a budget office representative counting out 42 gift cards in front of him, for a total of $21,000 worth of $500 gift cards – all funded by taxpayers.
“Nobody thought this through. If you look at the flyer, it is just the gravest thing that Letitia James could have done. She literally put a bounty on 3D-printed guns. She said, ‘I will give you extra money if it doesn’t have a serial number on it.’” He added that a lack of details and fine print on the flyer enabled him to walk away $21,000 richer.
When local news station NEWSChannel 2 reached out to the state Attorney General’s Office to find out if they were aware people were taking advantage of the program in this way, they did not answer the question. They only responded that the program was a “big success.”
Kem responded to this characterization with laughter, saying: "I'm sure handing over $21,000 in gift cards to some punk kid after getting a bunch of plastic junk was a rousing success."
He said that his goal with the effort was not just to make money but to draw attention to what he considers a misguided government policy.
“Gun buybacks are a fantastic way of showing, number one, that your policies don't work, and, number 2, you're creating perverse demand. You're causing people to show up to these events, and, they don't actually reduce crime whatsoever," he added.
He said he got the idea after seeing people post in Twitter about making ghost guns on 3D printers for gun buybacks.
However, the Attorney General’s office has now changed the program to prevent similar actions in the future. Speaking to WKTV, the office said: “It’s shameful that this individual exploited a program that has successfully taken thousands of guns off the streets … one individual’s greedy behavior won’t tarnish our work to promote public safety. We have adjusted our policies to ensure that no one can exploit this program again.”
Unlike the buyback in Utica, a September 17 buyback held in Camillus, New York, specifically excluded 3D printed and homemade “ghost guns.” Any 3D-printed guns that were brought to the event needed to be capable of firing multiple rounds safely to qualify.
Of course, this is just one of many problems with gun buyback events. In addition to shelling out taxpayer money for worthless pieces of plastic in the case of Utica, these events often attract individuals bringing in old and inoperable guns that criminals could have likely never used and do very little, if anything, to stop crime. Yet somehow, the AG’s office has the nerve to classify the buyback event as a “big success.”
Sources for this article include: