Nightly News   |  April 06, 2013

Will 3-D printing make guns more accessible?

Amid the wonder over what 3-D printers can do, there’s an increasingly heated debate over what's coming out of some of them — the components of a gun — and whether the technology will make access to weapons even easier. NBC’s Janet Shamlian reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> president obama call them revolutionary, 3-d printers that create physical products from a digital file. they're changing the way we make things in this country. on flash point, guns in america shows how some are using the technology in a way the president may not have foreseen, to make cheap gun parts.

>> this is the brain of the 3-d printer, if you will.

>> reporter: when chapman basil learned of the 3-d printer, he had to have one.

>> taking anything of design from a 3-d model and having the physical object in my hand, i got so excited, i had to have one.

>> reporter: the software designer and gamer paid $3,000 for this item, he's made many items. and he's also made this. a semi- automatic rifle with a file downloaded from the internet. gunsmiths have been forging their own for ages.

>> this is the magazine well right here.

>> reporter: with a 3-d printer, guns can be produced out of plastic and open up a new avenue for unlicensed gun manufacturing. with 3-d printing, a semi- automatic weapon can be made with very little money. a magazine like this for less than $10, and a receiver, one of the main components, for under 20. cody wilson is a texas law student who has uploaded blueprints to the web after other sites took him down following the massacre at sandy hook .

>> my premise was i'm going to create a gun and put it on line.

>> reporter: printing gun parts like these is currently legal under federal law .

>> i think people should have access to it, and i don't think you or anyone else should have the ability to control your access to it on the internet or your ability to print it on the machine.

>> as the gun debate heats up around the country, congressman steve is serks l sel is pushing for a rule that makes these guns illegal under the law.

>> i didn't think that would be a reality, but today with 3-d printers, it is. i don't want to make it easier for the bad guys to do harm for us, i want to make it harder.

>> reporter: no one has been able to make an entire gun that fires more than a single shot. but as designs improve, making a gun at home could soon be as simple as a point and a click. janet chamblee, nbc news, liberty, texas.